K rock Football

Tigers back into the top eight

RICHMOND again struggled to kick a big score but still squeezed its way back into the AFL’s top-eight with a dour eight-point win over Sydney on Sunday.

To make matters worse for the Swans, they face a spell without co-captain Josh Kennedy, who limped from the field with a medial-ligament strain to his left knee in the opening quarter.

The Tigers kicked three majors in a blistering opening 10 minutes to put a break on their opponents, but a Gabba downpour quickly turned the match into a slugfest.

The teams managed just three goals between them after quarter-time as the Tigers prevailed, 4.10 (34) to 3.8 (26).

It was the second-lowest combined match total in the AFL era as Richmond failed to capitalise on their inside-50 dominance (53-36).

The Tigers overcame the loss of five key players – captain Trent Cotchin, Toby Nankervis, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards – from the previous week’s victory over Melbourne.

Kane Lambert (23 disposals), Jayden Short (25) and Jack Higgins (19) stepped up to do plenty of grunt work as Dylan Grimes held the backline together.

Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton were both dangerous at times in attack with one goal each and seven clearances between them.

The only dampener on the Tigers’ win was a late bump from Marlion Pickett that caught Isaac Heeney high and will be scrutinised by the match review officer.

Sydney fielded nine players with fewer than 30 games’ experience and was far from disgraced in a gritty performance against the reigning premiers.

But their ultimately disappointing afternoon was compounded by injuries to Heeney and Kennedy.

Kennedy limped off with a left knee injury before quarter-time while Heeney hurt his right ankle early but played on before being helped off the field in the final stages.

Sydney’s difficult day started with a contentious deliberate rushed behind call on Callum Mills, who was pushed over the goal line by Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt.

Mills was penalised anyway and Riewoldt kicked the first of three Tigers goals in the first term from the resulting free kick.

The Swans left out versatile tall Aliir Aliir in a surprise selection decision before the bounce, leaving Hayden McLean to ruck against Ivan Soldo.

They backed undersized defenders Dane Rampe (188cm) and Robbie Fox (186cm) to take on Riewoldt (193cm) and Tom Lynch (199cm).

It worked to a degree as Riewoldt and Lynch, who was nursing a sore hand after minor surgery on Monday, were held to one goal each.

Tom Papley was the only multiple goalkicker, with two for the Swans, as Mills (29 disposals), Jake Lloyd (24) and Ryan Clarke (23) worked hard all day.

Richmond will remain in their Queensland hub for a meeting with North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, while Sydney returns home to tackle Gold Coast at the SCG.

(C) AAP 2020

RICHMOND 3.3 3.5 4.7 4.10 (34)

SYDNEY 1.3 2.3 2.5 3.8 (26)

Goals: Richmond: D Martin J Riewoldt S Bolton T Lynch. Sydney: T Papley 2 J Rowbottom.

Umpires: Matt Stevic, Hayden Gavine, Andre Gianfagna.

Official Crowd: 3,606 at Gabba.