RICHMOND 3.2 8.5 10.10 13.11 (89) GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 2.7 6.10 8.14 (62)
Goals: Richmond: B Deledio 2 D Martin 2 R Petterd 2 B Ellis B Griffiths B Houli J Riewoldt M Thomas S Edwards T Cotchin. Greater Western Sydney: J Patton 2 T Boyd 2 A Treloar C Ward R Palmer W Hoskin-Elliott.
BEST: Richmond: Deledio, Cotchin, Ellis, Rance, Edwards, Petterd. GWS: Ward, Treloar, Davis, Shaw, Bugg.
Injuries: Greater Western Sydney: J Hunt (hip flexor).
Reports: Richmond: R Conca (Richmond) for striking D Smith (GWS) in the second quarter.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Sam Hay, Nicholas Foot.
Official Crowd: 23,093 at MCG.
In this competition, five consecutive wins almost invariably place a team either inside the top eight, or somewhere near it. Richmond, thus, is some kind of theoretical possibility of making it, and a realistic chance of finishing in its once customary position of ninth.
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Richmond secure their fifth consecutive win with a 27-point victory over Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on Saturday.
That a fifth win on the trot by the Tigers doesn't have them entrenched in the top eight - and still long odds to reach that distant destination - is a demonstration of how off key they were for the first two thirds of their underwhelming season.
In time, we'll learn whether their belated charge is a genuine reflection of their capabilities - as a team that ought to have played finals - or classic fool's gold.
Greater Western Sydney, at the MCG, doesn't represent a major scalp. Not yet. But the 27-point victory will be sufficient to ensure that there will be a sizeable turnout - many more than the 23,000 who endured the cold twilight and failing lights - when the Tigers play Essendon on Friday night.
The outcome was shaped in the second quarter, when the Tigers booted five goals and the profligate Giants posted only four behinds. The half-time margin of 34 was sufficient and, despite GWS's third quarter revival - when it chanced its arm and moved the ball with some urgency - one never thought that the visitors would surf over the top - as they had almost managed against the Cats.
GWS closed to within 16 points in the third term, following a nice snap by Adam Treloar, who appeared suddenly as a force (14 touches for the quarter) following a dormant first half. Callan Ward and Toby Greene were also prominent, and there were flashes from Tom Boyd and especially Jonathan Patton that reminded us of what that towering duo might do to defences from 2016 onwards.
Whereas the monstrous Giant forwards are tomorrow's heroes, Richmond's most polished pair, Brett Deledio and Trent Cotchin, are game-changers in the present. Cotchin did his best work in the contest, Deledio when running with the ball and delivering it. Deledio's two goals in the second term were important, while Cotchin would finish with a game-high 18 contested balls. Brandon Ellis continued his steady maturation into a reliable midfielder, finishing with 34 touches and a nice goal in which he intercepted a well-intentioned switch of play from Lachie Plowman in the last quarter.
Jack Riewoldt was contained by Phil Davis, who received help from team mates who folded back and restricted the space in Richmond's front half. Heath Shaw's return from a severe concussion solidified the GWS defence, which, numerically speaking, did well to hold the Tigers to 13 goals from 56 forward entries. Dustin Martin was well smothered by Tomas Bugg, though Dusty booted two handy goals in the second half.
But the modest scoring wasn't due to frenzied pressure from either side. The Tigers, in fact, posted an astonishingly low tackle tally of 31 for the match - less than half of what teams budget for in these defence-conscious times. On the plus side, Richmond held a significant edge in contested ball, with 30 more than Leon Cameron's skinnier boys.
Alex Rance was probably the best defender afield, providing plenty of run from behind the ball. Anthony Miles, Richmond's great discovery of 2014, was more subdued in terms of winning the ball, but he still played an important part when switched on to Callan Ward, who had been outstanding in the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, at about 5.30pm, two of the MCG light towers went down. Around this time, Ricky Petterd took a strong mark and converted to put the Tigers 28 points ahead of the Giants. A freshly retired Jake King, sitting in the Richmond cheer squad with a beer in hand, seemed as content as those kindred souls surrounding him.
The lights were turned back on at half-time. The Giants found some light in the second half, but their brightest days lie ahead. Richmond? Who knows. At least the darkness is lifting at Punt Rd.