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VFL Tigers downed by Cats

VFL R18: Bachar returns Watch Bachar Houli's highlights from the Round 18 match against Geelong.

Jacob Ballard is one of the integral members of the Richmond VFL program and today he celebrated his 50th game for the club with a trip down the Princes Highway to Geelong.

No one has played more games for the VFL Tigers than Ballard, and his team members set their sights on making it a memorable day for the tough-as-teak utility.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the trek down the highway won’t be one they’d like to remember, with the Cats dominating after quarter-time to register a 17.7 (109) to 9.3 (57) win.

Both Richmond and Geelong hold spots in the top-four, and the game lived-up to the top billing with the hosts dismantling the Tigers on their way to a 52-point win.

The Cats went about slicing open the Tigers’ water-tight defensive set-up from the outset, by attacking through the corridor and burning the ladder leaders on transition.

Premiership hero, Bachar Houli was a welcome return for the Tigers and he was electric in the opening term.

While he was a touch rusty, he was productive, industrious and composed with ball in hand and a steadying influence in a high tempo first quarter.

Houli was Richmond’s main ball winner in the first term with nine disposals, launching the ball inside-50 on three occasions.

The veteran defender played the first half and was rested after halftime, finishing with 17 disposals in an encouraging return from a long stint out with injury.

Callum Coleman-Jones was another who started the game well, after reading the ball off hands deep in attack and strolling in for Richmond’s opening major of the day.

Geelong hit back with two of the last three majors of the term and took control of the contest thereafter.

The Cats big men asserted their dominance in the second term with Wylie Buzza wreaking havoc in attack and plugging holes in defence.

When the Tigers won the ball, their decision making going inside-50 wasn’t up to their usual standard, which brought the Cats’ interceptors into the game.

Noah Balta and Anthony Miles led the resistance, with Balta again highlighting his scope for improvement, be it down back or in attack.

Miles continuously burrowed his way through congestion, but Richmond lacked the potency on the outside which has been a real strength in 2018.

The midfield warrior ended the day with a team-high 29 disposals and eight clearances.

The Tigers scrapped and scrounged the ball forward, which was in stark contrast to the fluency and ease of the Cats’ ball movement.

The Cats blew the lead out to five goals at the main break on the back of a six-goal-to-two second term.

The Tigers needed a spark to ignite a response in the second half, but unfortunately, Wylie Buzza proved to be a thorn in the Tigers side once again.

Balta was swung forward in the third term and rewarded the move.

He marked strongly on the lead and more importantly kicked truly, which seemed to jolt the Tigers into action.

The budding swingman racked up 22 disposals in what was a warming effort on an icy day.

Milestone man, Jacob Ballard burst clear of congestion moments later and dragged back the deficit to a manageable 24 points, however, that’s as close as the visitors would get.

Buzza nailed his third soon after and the Cats sprinted away with the game.

Shaun Mannagh’s place-kick from 45 metres will make the highlight reel during the week and gave the Tigers’ fans something to cheer about.

Richmond fought and toiled away in the final term but lacked cohesion and connection for the first time in a long time.

Lessons will be learnt, and the Tigers will move on pretty quickly and prepare for next week as they welcome Williamstown to the Swinburne Centre.

RICHMOND    2.1       4.2       7.3       9.3 (57)

GEELONG      3.1       9.2       13.4     17.7 (109)

Goals

Richmond: Moore (2), Mannagh (2), Miles (1), Balta (1), Coleman-Jones (1), Ballard (1), Aarts (1)

Geelong: Grace (4), Buzza (3), Miers (2), Parsons (2), McLachlan (2), Gardner (1), Horlin-Smith (1), Murdoch (1), Atkins (1)