Confidence for this game was pretty solid. We were OK without being quite good enough against Brisbane. Tom Lynch was available after a spell to get his sore hamstring completely right. His absence contributed to last week’s loss, but would that call ultimately pay off? Dimma decided to put his faith in the “Nank & Friends” approach in the ruck, so Mabior Chol made way for Lynch. Unlucky Jake Aarts was dropped to bring back dual premiership defender Nathan Broad. The Saints had 3 forced changes, with Ryder injured, Carlisle on baby watch and Ben Long suspended.
Lynch was on the board immediately, after outmarking his shadow for the day Dougal Howard. A few minutes later Sheds crumbed a huge leap from Jack in the pack and dribbled one through from straight in front. Modern players practice this incessantly, that’s why they’re so good at it. Why do they not practice drop punts incessantly? Good question, Virginia.
Shane Savage, who played at Hawthorn in the 1970s, kicked an absolute monster from the NSW border to get the Saints away.
Shai Bolton replied with two goals in a minute that were audacious and ridiculous. He followed a sort of bumblebee path with Sinclair on his heels clutching the air. It ended with Shai running outside 50 then launching a kick over the crowded forward line. It bounced 15 out and rolled through.
From the bounce we pumped it long once more and Shai roved to Nank, ran juggling the ball into a pack of Saints, and without ever really controlling it, tapped it towards his swinging boot, to goal from 30 metres out.
Dan Butler has excelled at his new club this year and it was a spicy moment when he ran down Cotch in the centre for HTB. He then goaled on/after the siren to give St Kilda a smidgen of hope after a tough quarter. Richmond led 5.1.31 to 2.2.14.
The second was maybe more even but St Kilda were wasteful. Billings, Marsh and King blew gettable chances. Cotch ripped Zak Jones’ head clean off, in a classic example of his literally careless style in finals. Will kill for Richmond, this guy. They re-attached Jones head but he didn’t contribute a great deal thereafter. Again (if we win) the next few days will be full of speculation whether Trent will miss a final.
Sheds kicked a beauty over his shoulder before Clark answered from tight on the boundary. Dan and Lynch added goals so we went in at half time on a very accurate 9.1.55 to 3.6.24. In 2020 footy that’s close to a decisive lead.
The 3rd term however was all Saints. Cartoon-baddie Tom Lynch reappeared, sitting on a bemused Howard’s head then dropping a knee gently on his shoulder and giving away 50 metres – and bringing more tribunal speculation. Quite harmless but dumb and unnecessary.
For all their chances this quarter the Saints didn’t hurt us, through a combination of our pressure and plain bad luck. Our one goal for the term came after Sheds shot this pass to Prestia who goaled. Look at this wonderful player’s composure in the moment – about to be hit hard but his eyes are only on Dion.
A much better effort from the Saints that term, finishing off with a goal to Kent after a duff kick from Bachar and great twinkletoes from Dan Butler. But they’re still 23 points in arrears at the last break.
Well, now it’s interesting. Hunter Clark is quite a player, he sold a dummy to Bachar, ran on and set up a goal for Seb Ross. Margin 17 and momentum with the Saints. Somewhere in their mansions Eric Bana, Shane Warne and Lazar Vidovic are sitting bolt upright. Their boys have 17 scoring shots to 14 and maybe if they can just hit some targets they can do this.
But it just didn’t happen. Richmond are a hardened finals unit and there are children at kindergarten now who have never known them to lose from here. We ‘raised the fight’ and overwhelmed their moves forward with mad pressure.Embed from Getty Images
Sheds spotted up George for our 11th goal, Dusty hoisted another, and we were home by 31 points.
We can say the gamble of resting Lynch has at least broke even. Nank was fantastic with help from Astbury and Balta. Faith in Dimma is strong.
RICHMOND 5.1 9.1 10.4 12.8 (80)
ST KILDA 2.2 3.6 5.11 6.13 (49)
5: Edwards – sublime to watch
4: Bolton – his goals set us on the path to a prelim
3: Houli – 32 touches
2: Martin – Did Martin things
1: Lynch – Richmond aren’t themselves without him now
Honourable mention to Dan Butler who would have got votes if opposition players were eligible for the Benny.
18: Grimes, Vlastuin, Graham
12: McIntosh, Lambert
10: Riewoldt, Baker, Edwards
9: McIntosh, Prestia
5: Higgins, Eggmolesse-Smith, Chol
4: Caddy, Lynch
1: Castagna, Astbury
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy for Tackles
Cotchin, Rioli 47