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Cubs on show again, as VFL Tigers sink Blues

VFL: Higgins kicks three Jack Higgins kicks three goals in three quarters during Richmond's VFL practice match against the Northern Blues.

Create winning habits.

Three simple words, and a mantra that Craig McRae is ingraining into his troops.

Richmond’s VFL side welcomed another arch-enemy to the Swinburne Centre, with the Tigers and the Northern Blues duking it out as the undercard before tonight’s main event at the ‘G.

The Tigers went into the pre-season hit-out with clear objectives: to be ruthless at the contest, constrict their opposition and celebrate as one.

They ticked all of those off after a clinical display in front of a bevy of Tiger faithful, cruising to a nine goal win over the Blues, 19.13 (127) to 11.7 (73).

It was fitting that whilst Richmond’s 11th premiership flag was being unfurled at the ‘G, its VFL side secured its win in the “premiership quarter”, thanks largely to Jack Higgins and Liam Baker.

Higgins and Baker were simply everywhere, using their speed, smarts, nous and skill to net four goals between them in the third term, which put the result beyond doubt.

Although Higgins and Baker (both with two goals) were deadly inside 50, a Tiger son-of-a-gun provided the highlight of the term.

Patrick Naish is better known as a dashing winger/halfback, with a deadly right boot, but it was his defensive work in the contest that shone through this evening.

Northern Blues’ speedster, Kym Lebois gathered the ball on the Jack Dyer Stand wing, with clear grass in front of him, his eyes lighting up with sight of the goals.

Naish had other ideas.

The winger grit his teeth, put his head down and sprinted after Lebois, diving full stretch and drilling the Blues’ midfielder into Punt Rd Oval.

Much to the delight of the Tigers in attendance and his teammates.

The Tigers’ tackling intensity rose sharply after halftime and became infectious.

Connor Menadue, Steve Morris, Jake Aarts and Anthony Miles all laid bone-crunching tackles in the third term, with Aarts also cashing-in forward of centre.

The game may have been won in the third quarter, but it was set-up in the first, sparked by one man, Mabior Chol.

Chol ignited the home side in the opening term, with the first two majors of the game, before the Blues hit back.

The Tigers settled in the backend of the quarter, after a classic crumb and goal by Tyson Stengle.

Both sides enjoyed patches of dominance in the second quarter, with the Blues netting five goals to four, and going into halftime full of running.

Connor Menadue, Ryan Garthwaite, Nathan Broad and Jack Higgins led the charge in the second term, with Menadue goaling from a near impossible angle drawing the loudest applause.

Menadue has an air of confidence about him in 2018, with his speed and composure standing out.

Broad’s athleticism and ability to intercept are added strings to his bow, and will serve him well at any level this season.

The Tiger faithful would have been suitably impressed with Ryan Garthwaite’s shear willingness to compete, whether that be in the air or at ground level.

Garthwaite barely lost a contest all evening, and kept Harry McKay well in-check.

Higgins’ gun-trigger right-foot snap at goal at the 22-minute mark of the second term sailed through and kept the momentum on an even keel.

Higgins then blew the game open in the third stanza.

Higgins finished the game with three goals, and proved once again why he was regarded so highly by the Club.

Liam Baker plays a similar way to Higgins, brimming with spunk and flair, with a taste for the contest and a keen eye around goal.

The game was well and truly secured in the final term, however the two Callums (Moore and Coleman-Jones) combined exceptionally in one passage of play that highlighted their aerial ability.

Moore soared early at centre-half forward, securing the mark in customary fashion; he then attacked the goal square, where Coleman-Jones stood tall and kicked truly.

Garthwaite also provided a highlight as the light began to fade, outpointing Harry McKay one-on-one inside defensive 50, as he did for the majority of the night.

Richmond has a history of housing fullbacks with ungainly kicking styles, and Garthwaite’s is just that, but highly accurate and effective.

The winning habits Craig McRae spoke about all night were on show and will continue to grow throughout 2018 and beyond.

RICHMOND               6.3       10.7     16.10   19.13 (127)

NORTHERN              2.0       7.3       9.4       11.7 (73)