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VFL Tigers fall to Williamstown

VFL R10: Townsend kicks two Watch Jacob Townsend highlights from Richmond VFL's Round 10 match against Williamstown.

“Individual commitment to a group effort: that is what makes a team work.”

Words of NFL icon, Vince Lomardi when discussing what it takes to be defensively imperious.

Williamstown and Richmond laid claim to being the top-two defensive outfits in the VFL this year going into round 10, both giving up just nine-goals a game on average in 2018.

An arm-wrestle was nigh guaranteed on Sunday at Williamstown Football Ground, when the Tigers attempted to topple the Seagulls for the first time, in a long time.

The Tigers and Seagulls fought out an absolute classic, with Williamstown prevailing, 12.11 (83) to 10.11 (71).

The Tigers hadn’t beaten the Seagulls since re-entering the competition, and went about rectifying that on a rare, windless day at the sun-drenched Point Gellibrand.

The Tigers burst out of the blocks with the opening three majors to Shai Bolton, Tyson Stengle and Jacob Townsend, before the Seagulls hit back with venom.

Any thoughts of Richmond pulling away from their less fancied hosts were quashed when Williamstown slammed on three majors of its own to finish the first term.

Dominant Tiger ruckman, Ivan Soldo was a late exclusion, which left the majority of the rucking duties on the shoulders of youngster, Callum Coleman-Jones.

Coleman-Jones relished the early responsibility, showing poise beyond his years, to lead his midfield with purpose and flair.

The budding ruckman finished the day with 17 disposals, 32 hit-outs and four clearances, in what was a pleasing display.

The Tigers bench was cut in half for large chunks of the opening term, when Oleg Markov (knee) and Tom Silvestro (cut eye) left the ground in the hands of the trainers.

Markov injured his knee in the opening minute of the game and didn’t return, while Silvestro re-emerged after some running repairs.

Young bull, Charlie Thompson (jaw) and goal-sneak, Tyson Stengle (ribs) also left the field to be assessed by the trainers in what was a willing opening half.

At times, Richmond’s bench resembled the emergency ward of a local hospital, with the medical staff kept busy for most of the day.

Richmond wrestled back the lead early in the second term via some brilliant work by Stengle, Daniel Rioli and Jacob Townsend, before Williamstown hit back.

The pressure gauge neared boiling point, as both sides harassed, scrapped, stalked and mauled their opposition.

The Tigers’ class rose to the top in the back-end of the second term.

Firstly, Coleman-Jones fended-off a Seagulls’ defender in the goal-square, before deftly palming the ball down to Charlie Thompson, as the young-gun snapped through his debut goal.

Corey Ellis then cruised out of congestion, accepted a handball, hit 35 and speared through his first for the day, handing the Tigers’ a slight four-point lead at halftime.

Six lead changes in the first half, and it was like finals footy in June.

The game went up another notch in the second half, with both sides throwing their weight around.

Sam Lloyd was reported after a bump on Williamstown’s, Lachlan Spark, which seemed to jolt the Seagulls into action.

Daniel Rioli coolly slotted the first goal of the second half, but Williamstown arrested back the ascendency on the back of three unanswered goals.

The Tigers struggled for the majority of the day to find a winner in the air forward of centre, as the Seagulls controlled the air in their defensive half.

Williamstown defender, Leigh Masters patrolled his back-50 with superiority and chopped off countless Tiger forays forward.

With the Seagulls clutching to an eight-point lead at the final change, the ball was in the Tigers’ court to strip Williamstown of its momentum and make a charge of its own.

The Seagulls started the better in the final term, with ill-discipline starting to creep into the Tigers’ game.

However, a Daniel Rioli goal against the tide sparked Richmond into action.

The young Tigers fought and scrounged right to the death, but every time they mounted a challenge, the Seagulls answered straight back, and eventually wore them down.

Jacob Townsend was a colossus, continually applying bone-jarring physical pressure, either up forward or through the midfield.

Townsend finished the day with two goals, 16 disposals and 11 tackles, while Corey Ellis tolied manfully to finish with 28 disposals, six clearances, seven tacklesa and a classy goal.

Late goals to Shai Bolton and Ryan Bathie cut the margin to 12 points, but it was ultimately, a bridge too far.

Williamstown laid down the challenge, and It was only a lack of polish and poise at critical times, which eventually cost the Tigers snagging victory.

WILLIAMSTOWN          3.4        5.6        8.9        12.11 (83)

RICHMOND                   3.2        6.4        7.7        10.11 (71)

Goals

Williamstown: Schultz (3), Cavarra (2), Kempster (2), Bewley, Gibbons, Dunnell, Rodda & Wheeler

Richmond: Rioli (2), Bolton (2), Townsend (2), Bathie, Thompson, Ellis & Stengle