Richmond coach Damien Hardwick delivered the competition a stern reminder after the Tigers downed the Dogs.

“When they’re challenged they’ll jump.”

Those were the words of Richmond coach Damien Hardwick after an embattled Tigers unit grinded to victory over the red-hot Western Bulldogs at the MCG on Friday night.

Richmond have become renowned for responding to challenges in emphatic fashion ever since they launched their dynasty in the 2017 grand final – and their greatness was again on show against the Bulldogs as they powered to a 22-point win, 11.11 (77) to 7.13 (55).

Three-time Norm Smith medallist Dustin Martin wasn’t available due to concussion and a foot injury, and star teammates Nick Vlastuin (knee), Dion Prestia (calf) and Kane Lambert (calf) were sidelined, too.

MORE: Ross Lyon backs Richmond’s call to let Dustin Martin visit New Zealand

Captain Trent Cotchin had also had a dip in form, registering just 12 touches against Melbourne last week to prompt Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes to call for the skipper to lift on Nine’s Footy Classified.

And as a collective, the Tigers had mustered only three wins from their first six games of the season and had been reeling on the back of a 34-point loss to the Demons.

But Hardwick’s troops would rise to a statement win, fighting back from a 25-point deficit to conquer a Bulldogs outfit that had headed into the game undefeated.

Key forward Tom Lynch wasted a series of simple shots on goal in the opening half but ignited the Tigers’ second-half surge, jagging three majors in the third term and finishing with 12 marks and 11 score involvements in a colossal performance.

When Hardwick was asked in his post-match conference if the hunger to disprove the doubters remained alive despite the three flags in four years, he answered without hesitation.

“I think every player individually wants to come in and show their wares, but I think collectively as a side we want to show how we can play,” Hardwick said.

“We were disappointed in certain facets of our game last week, but we still gave ourselves opportunities to win or get closer than what the scoreboard probably reflected.

“We’ve been playing some reasonable footy without playing great footy. But what I love from this group is they always respond. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. When they’re challenged they’ll jump. They enjoy the challenge.”

Until Friday night, the Bulldogs and Demons were the only teams in the league undefeated after the first six rounds.

And Luke Beveridge’s men lay claim to arguably the classiest midfield brigade in the competition, given the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Adam Treloar, Bailey Smith, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore.

Hardwick said his side relished the chance to challenge itself against such formidable opposition.

“You’ve just got to be grateful that you can get the opportunity to play a great game like we do and play against a really good opponent where you can test yourself,” Hardwick said.

“Our guys are a proud group.

“They were disappointed with last week and the result, but they responded very well tonight.”

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/1388112772936785923

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

AFL

By

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.