Full stretch: The Tigers' Ben Griffiths makes a greasy ball stick in a sodden match in Sydney yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
THE redemption of Daniel Connors still has a way to go but yesterday the troubled Tiger repaid some of the faith Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick showed in him with two clutch goals in their 12-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
In a scrappy clash that failed to hit great heights - due mostly to the driving Sydney rain - Connors saved his side's blushes when the Giants were eyeing a huge upset with five minutes remaining.
Richmond had registered six consecutive behinds in the final quarter before Connors kicked two goals in response to GWS debutant Sam Schulz's major, which had reduced the Tigers' lead to just seven points at Skoda Stadium.
AFL Round 12 2012: GW Sydney v Richmond
Richmond held on in wet conditions at Skoda Stadium to defeat GWS by 12 points,final score 11.20 (86) to 12.2 (74). Photo: getty
Hardwick was circumspect after the 11.20 (86) to 12.2 (74) victory, noting Connors still had to redeem himself after being banished from the club for three months over summer due to alcohol and behavioural issues.
''There's no doubt [his career was in jeopardy] and that's well documented and Dan would tell you that himself,'' Hardwick said after Connors' first game in more than a year.
''He has still got a long way to go and has a number of areas to improve his football and also his durability as a footballer.''
Connors kicked three goals working in tandem with spearhead Jack Riewoldt, who also booted three.
''He started off slow, but credit to Daniel - he fought his way through the conditions,'' Hardwick said.
''It's been a real credit to him that he's fought his way back into the side.
''He had to earn the trust of the playing group and coaching staff again and he's done that.
''He put his game forward and will certainly be part of the short-term future at the moment.''
The Tigers had 17 more scoring shots than the Giants, but inaccuracy meant the visitors never established a comfortable buffer despite often dictating terms.
Hardwick was not alarmed by how his side flirted with disaster against the league's newcomers.
''They [GWS] are going to be an outstanding unit. I think they're going to be very, very good, very, very quickly,'' he said.
''They're going to beat some sides. They've been really competitive over the course - [there's] no embarrassment on our behalf.
''We've had two of those [wet games] in the last two weeks where it's just been an arm wrestle … a toss of a coin to see who wins.
''We were lucky and fortunate enough to come out on top today.''
GWS' Jeremy Cameron and debutant Jonathon Patton combined for four goals and seven contested marks - the latter number being the same as the Tigers' combined tally.
Giants coach Kevin Sheedy was disappointed to lose, but noted that it was one of the first times his side had strung together four quarters of quality football.
''The players are playing up to somewhere near their maximum,'' Sheedy said, suggesting it was a better performance than the maiden win over Gold Coast.
''We actually took the game to the 110th minute and I think our fans will understand and respect that. These young players are starting to play deeper into the game.''