Herald Sun

TIGERS FLIRT WITH FORM

- LAU­REN WOOD

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.

 ?? Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES ?? Brett Dele­dio gets shut down by Carl­ton’s Jason Tutt as the Tigers strug­gled to con­vert chances into goals at the MCG last Fri­day night.
Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES Brett Dele­dio gets shut down by Carl­ton’s Jason Tutt as the Tigers strug­gled to con­vert chances into goals at the MCG last Fri­day night.

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