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Richmond Tigers aim to tame the Sydney Swans monster

Tall order: Richmond needs to lift to beat Sydney.

Tall order: Richmond needs to lift to beat Sydney. Photo: Getty Images

When the AFL fixture list throws up Sydney, where do you start planning your defence?

It's a question plaguing Richmond coach Damien Hardwick ahead of their Friday night's clash with the Swans.

Certainly not the midfield where Josh Kennedy is on track to challenge for the Brownlow.

"Kennedy is one of those guys, you can tag him as many times as you like but he still seems to find a way of getting 25 (disposals) and 10 (clearances)," he said.

"They've got quality players through there, Kieren Jack and these types... they're just a formidable running machine."

And not a forward line where Lance Franklin now struts his stuff.

"I think (Franklin's) actually improved. It's probably the first time we've seen him be a force in contested marking," Hardwick said.

"You've got to make sure you monitor Buddy but then there's also a very good player down there by the name of Adam Goodes... (Sam) Reid, all these other types."

"Even across their half-forward line, the likes of (Jarrad) McVeigh who just seems to keep getting better year-in and year-out.

"A young kid by the name of Parker that's really impressive."

About the only factors pulling in the Tigers' direction is their recent form against Sydney at the MCG, winning the past three, and a few Sydney absentees.

Hardwick was heartened by the "big outs" of Kurt Tippett and Dan Hannebery, doubting that Ben McGlynn would take his place in the Swans' side.

He was also cautiously optimistic of taming the monster - with Alex Rance to be handed the job on Franklin.

"Alex has a pretty good record on Buddy the last couple of times he's played but that by no means guarantees Buddy is going to have a quiet game," he said.

With a 111-point belting of GWS their only win in seven matches, Hardwick was heartened by improvement in a key metric: the contested ball.

Seen by fans and coaches alike as a reading of hunger for the ball and skill under pressure, the Tigers shaded Fremantle last week despite a 20-point loss.

"That's our challenge... the consistency is the point that we've been missing," he said.

"We've got to outnumber as many contests as we can because that's the key."

AAP 

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