Richmond to Power on After Mid-Season Mauling
The Richmond Tigers’ may have been out of form since their AFL Round 10 loss to Port Adelaide in Darwin, but that defeat and the subsequent few weeks of misery have only served as incentive for the club according to their coach Damien Hardwick, who said they were ready to bounce back against the Gold Coast this Saturday.
The Tigers were on the verge of a spot in the top eight for this year’s AFL Premiership before they lost 74 – 89 in an upset to the lowly-seeded Port Adelaide on May 28, and since then their only victory has been over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on June 18.
Losses to the Sydney Swans (Round 12), Melbourne (Round 14), Carlton (Round 16) and then a nasty 66 – 105 defeat at the hands of Essendon last Saturday have seen Richmond drop down to number 13th on the AFL Ladder that is topped by Collingwood.
The huge 39-point trouncing to the Bombers was made even more bitter due to the fact the Tigers were in front by 23 during the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball in the last quarter,” Hardwick said.
“I think at one stage the possession-count was 32-2, and the game was done and dusted from there.”
Hardwick, however, is confident they can enjoy a confidence injection with a win over the last-placed Gold Coast Suns when they take them on at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns during the AFL’s Multicultural Round.
“What we learned in Darwin was that the conditions, the humidity, were the things we didn’t handle overly well with our use of the ball,” Hardwick said.
“So we’ve put a few things in place to try and rectify that.
“We’re going up a day earlier to help with our preparation and so we can train on the ground.
“We’ll have a couple of training sessions up there, so that should do the job for us.
“It’s a change of scenery and a change of temperature – I think it’s 26 up there today.
“So it will be good to get out of the Melbourne cold for a couple of days and we’re looking forward to an exciting challenge.”
With just two wins for the season to date, the Suns are a struggling side that will start the underdogs in Saturday night’s showdown while Richmond will get their chance to work back into top eight calculations with a win.
It will be a tough game, however, with kick-off scheduled for 2:10pm.
An evening match was unable to be arranged at the Cairns venue, as Cazaly’s Stadium is not equipped with AFL-standard lighting.
“It’s hotter, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s not much we can do about that,” Hardwick said.
“We’ll pick the fittest team we can and hope to run out the game at full strength.
In regards to the Richmond team selection, Hardwick said that there would only be minor changes to the squad that suffered a heavy loss last week.
“There will be a couple of changes, but there won’t be drastic changes,” he said.
“You don’t want to be making wholesale changes at this time of year.”
Despite their placing on the table, Hardwick is also well aware of the danger the Suns present on Saturday afternoon especially with the likely return of skipper Gary Ablett from his knee injury.
“He (Ablett) trained yesterday,” Hardwick said.
“We’ll put measure in place to make sure that he doesn’t have the influence that he normally does.
“They’re (the Suns are) a young football club, but they’re certainly exciting to watch.
“They’re a side I enjoy to watch to see how the young talent of this country is going.
“It’s still an enormous challenge for us.”
Talking tactics and of lessons learnt against Essendon last round, Hardwick said controlling possession and field position would be essential on Saturday to beat the Suns.
“We just have to make sure we get our hands on the ball and drive the ball forward,” he said.
“One of the key indicators in games at the moment is time spent in your forward half.
“One of the funny things is that we actually won that key indicators stat (in the loss to the Bombers) but a number of their goals came over the back because of our poor defensive set-up.
“So we learned a few things out of the weekend’s game.
“As much as you can, you try and learn something from the bad results that you have.”