TIGERS FLIRT WITH FORM
RICHMOND’S next defeat is around the corner unless it lifts, and fast, coach Damien Hardwick warns.
The Tigers have won seven of their past eight outings, but Hardwick said yesterday they had been sloppy and it was only a matter of time before it caught up with them.
“We think we’ve been playing poor. Nowhere near to our standard,” Hardwick said.
“We’ve been getting over the line playing nowhere near what we can. We’ve got to lift the bar to perform on a regular basis.
“Defensively, we’ve been happy with our games, but offensively we’ve been sloppy at various stages.”
The statistics back him up. Richmond has the lowest scoring average of any topeight side, with an average of just 83.8 points a game.
In the six games since Round 9, of which they have won five, the Tigers have averaged just 80.5 points, putting them 11th in the competition.
They scored fewer than 78 points in two of those games, but have counteracted that shortcoming defensively and are ranked second best in the competition when it comes to points conceded.
But it’s going inside 50 that has failed to prove fruitful for Richmond, which went inside the arc 52 times against Carlton last weekend for just 10 goals.
Hardwick said it was the worst return in years.
“Our inside-50 kicking last week was as poor as it’s been for two, even three years,” Hardwick lamented.
“We probably had six or seven goals where my son’s under-18 side could have done a better job converting those chances. If we continue to play at the level we are at the moment, we’re going to get beaten.”
The Tigers go into Sunday’s clash with St Kilda without forward Ty Vickery, who was suspended for two matches for rough conduct.
While it creates a dilemma, Hardwick has been pleased with the team’s physicality this season.
“We prefer playing that aggressive style of game,” he said.
“You notice the best sides do it, whether it’s from a physical harassment point of view or from an intimidation point of view — it’s something that our guys have taken on board and grown with.
“We feel that’s the best way to play footy and get the results we’re after.”
Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt is racing the clock to be fit for the match, at which his late sister Maddie will be honoured, after injuring his calf.
Despite the obvious quality of the Saints champion, Hardwick hoped he would be fit to take his place.
“It is one of those occasions where with Nick being such a prominent player in the side and in such a special game, you do hope that he can play,” he said.