RICHMOND yesterday kept its slim finals hopes alive with a brilliant 29-point win over Hawthorn at the MCG in what coach Terry Wallace described as possibly the Tigers' best "four-quarter" effort in his time at the club.
Richmond raced to a four-goal lead early in the first term and was never headed despite some spirited pressure from Hawthorn, which failed to capitalise with goals when they were needed most.
Glamour spearhead Lance Franklin, who started the game on 91 goals for the season, was again the culprit, kicking 3.6 to take his total against Richmond this season to 4.13. Jarryd Roughead, who kicked five to help beat Richmond last time, gathered only five disposals, one uncontested mark and did not kick a goal.
Needing to rely on others for a genuine chance of slipping into the finals, the Tigers' joy lasted only an hour until St Kilda powered away from Fremantle in the second half of their match at Subiaco.
Wallace said he was extremely pleased with the way his side had shaken off its pathetic effort against Adelaide the previous week to put the acid on Hawthorn.
"I thought it was probably our best four-quarter, just-disciplined, do-the-right-thing, nothing fancy and just-get-the-job-done game that we've played," he said.
"We beat a side inside the eight; it doesn't happen very often.
"I thought that was probably our key to our game, in that it was more a four-quarter performance than what I've seen.
"I think we've won games this year where we have kicked eight goals or nine goals in a quarter and played a terrific patch and then gone missing for a patch of the game."
Asked whether he felt Hawthorn's stumble would affect it, Wallace said he did not subscribe to the "loss you needed to have" philosophy and that the Hawks would "reload" and bounce back.
Despite going inside 50 on 49 occasions, Hawthorn managed to score only 10 goals, appearing to be Franklin-centric while Roughead played "higher" up the ground than he had previously.
Yet coach Alistair Clarkson rejected the idea the Hawks had been too narrowly focused on Franklin, who finished the day still needing six goals to crack the ton. He felt they had been beaten by their own inability to convert when they dominated periods of play.
"We have won 15 games of footy so we are not going to crucify ourselves over one game of footy," Clarkson said.
"Richmond, in my view, hunted the footy, had a lot more to play for than what we did early in the game and it showed on the scoreboard early.
"Early in the game, Richmond were just harder and hungrier than what we were. You can talk about our forwards until the cows come home but I think the clearances at one stage in the first quarter were 13 to 1 (they were 10-2 at quarter-time)."
Clarkson was frustrated that the side after quarter-time won clearances and inside 50s yet failed to convert.
"If you watch the third quarter, there were plenty of opportunities for us and we just butchered the footy with our use. That was the period of the game where we really had Richmond on the ropes," he said.
"Go to the stats and look at the kicking efficiency and see (Richmond) are at 77% and we were at 69.
"Sam Mitchell has had half of his kicks either ineffective or clangers; now that is most unlike Sam Mitchell. He had a day where he didn't feel comfortable with the surface under his feet and we butchered the footy on a fair few occasions."