Tigers focus on contested ball in AFL
Fixing their awful contested ball count is the top priority for Richmond ahead of Saturday’s massive AFL assignment.
The Tigers collapsed in the second half against North Melbourne and now face Fremantle, who are building a head of steam with three-straight wins.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is happy enough with his team’s defensive work – they are just doing too much of it because they cannot win the ball themselves.
“If you start getting the ball controlled a little bit more through your offence, your defence becomes remarkably better,” Hardwick said.
“We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball to get our offensive game up and going, which means you’re defending for a long period of time.
“Eventually, the dam wall is going to break, which is obviously what we experienced in the third quarter.
“We just have to continue to work on that contested ball part of our game.”
Fremantle are renowned for their contested ball work, while Richmond’s task in that area will be even harder given Matt Thomas is suspended.
Hardwick said Thomas and captain Trent Cotchin did well in winning the contested ball.
“But unfortunately in some situations, those players don’t reproduce the form on a quarter-by-quarter basis,” he said.
“So then you’re looking at plan B and plan C.
“Unfortunately when those two plans don’t work, you go back to plan A and you start again.”
For all Richmond’s problems, Hardwick said their focus remains winning.
He added that their woeful 3-8 win-loss record did not reflect their abilities.
“Like Mick Malthouse said (of Carlton) … there is no white flag,” he said.
And don’t dare even suggest that the Tigers are soft.
A reporter used the “S” word – the worst four-letter insult in professional sport – when asking a question of Hardwick.
The query was more about Richmond’s appetite for the contest, but Hardwick did not hear beyond “soft” and saw red.
“You can’t say that … I can say that about your journalism,” Hardwick said.
“You play AFL footy mate, you have to be tough, no doubt.”
As the media conference Hardwick told the reporter he was lucky not to be on the wrong end of a left hook.
Hardwick was smiling, but only appeared to be half-joking.