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Pressure first, goals second for Tiger smalls

Nathan Schmook, AFL Media  September 10, 2017 1:21 PM

QF: Tigers' ferocious finals pressure Highlights of the tackling and harassing during the Qualifying Final against Geelong.
AFL 2017 Second Qualifying Final - Geelong v Richmond

Dan Butler celebrates a goal against Geelong

RICHMOND'S small forwards know a lack of goals won't cost them their spots in the team this September as long as they keep applying the fearsome defensive pressure that rattled Geelong on Friday night.

Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Daniel Rioli combined for just two of the Tigers' 13 goals in Friday night's win, but their defensive pressure was a standout feature in a win that has sent the Tigers through to a home preliminary final.

In a game that was played between the arcs for long periods, they still combined for 48 pressure acts, with Richmond laying 21 tackles inside 50 to Geelong's four.

Butler said the Tigers' coaches viewed goals and possessions from their small forwards as a bonus, giving the trio the freedom to focus on a defensive aspect of their games they know they can deliver every week.

"They (the coaches) just speak about playing the game and playing on our talent and to our strengths, but all they're worried about is how much pressure we put on," Butler told

"We have weeks where we have three or four touches but we apply good pressure, so that's why we stay in the team.

"We played our role pretty well (against the Cats). All we try and do is put pressure on and then if we get kicks, marks, handballs, goals that's just a bonus.

"Our main role is to put pressure on for the team and provide supports for the midfielders and backs."

Coach Damien Hardwick praised his group's defensive pressure on Friday night and the ability to create seven forward-half turnover goals against the Cats.

With a game-plan based on defence, Butler said the small forwards could take their pressure to higher levels if the Tigers' preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney or West Coast is more contested. 

"The scrappier it is the better it is for us as small forwards, because we're always there to pounce and apply pressure and tackle," he said. 

"I think we've played in all different conditions this year and played well.

"But that was the highest pressure game I've played in, especially with the crowd … it was definitely hard to block out but it was a pretty exciting night."

Butler said he could not have imagined having the impact he has this season when he made his debut in round one, after missing his first year (2015) because of a knee injury and spending last year in the VFL.

The 21-year-old has missed only two games because of a groin injury this season and kicked 27 goals, also averaging 4.7 score involvements a game.  

Richmond's small forwards against Geelong

Dan Butler

Pressure acts: 13
Tackles: five
Tackles inside 50: three
Score involvements: three
Disposals: nine
Scores: 1.1

Daniel Rioli

Pressure acts: 16
Tackles: four
Tackles inside 50: two
Score involvements: five
Disposals: eight
Scores: 0.0

Jason Castagna

Pressure acts: 19
Tackles: four
Tackles inside 50: two
Score involvements: two
Disposals: six
Scores: 1.0