Richmond VFL has withstood a dogged Casey outfit to register a 35-point win, its 14th for the year, in its final home and away game at the Swinburne Centre for 2019.
The Tigers and Demons fought tooth and nail before the hosts slammed through four-goals-to-two in the final term, sealing a 12.6 (78) to 6.7 (43) win.
There were stories aplenty for Richmond in its Saturday afternoon clash with Casey, with most of the attention pointed at a mature-age debutant and a returning young bull.
Marlion Pickett donned the Yellow and Black for the first time and Jack Ross returned after 11 weeks on the sidelines with an ankle syndesmosis injury.
The Tiger Army has been anxiously waiting to see what Richmond’s inaugural mid-season draft pick has to offer, the intrigue growing after viewing his sparkling highlight reel.
Ross built a fan club earlier in the season after impressing at both VFL and AFL level—his ferocity at the ball and man endearing him to the football public.
Silky wingman, Fraser Turner, also returned after missing an extended period with a femur injury.
Ross stood alongside fellow cubs, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Luke English as the trio roved to Toby Nankervis.
Nankervis won the opening centre clearance and Ross picked up exactly where he left, showing no signs of rust.
Ross was at his bullocking and industrious best, racking up 12 disposals in the opening half, and was managed for the remainder of the game.
A gloomy and drizzly Saturday in Melbourne is a far cry from sun-soaked South Fremantle but Pickett looked comfortable in his surroundings as soon as he graced the Punt Road Oval turf.
The smooth-moving midfielder’s hands were crisp in the greasy conditions and he looked sharp and proactive with ball in hand.
The loudest roar of the opening term was reserved for Pickett. After drawing a free kick inside 50, his teammates and the Tiger faithful rejoiced as his set-shot pierced through the teeth of goal.
Pickett’s teammates swarmed the debutant, piling on the praise for the already much-loved Tiger.
The debutant was managed across the four quarters, finishing with 20 disposals, three tackles and a goal.
Connor Menadue lit the fire in last week’s opening quarter against Collingwood and started just as strongly this week, having a direct hand in the first three goals.
Menadue trapped a Demon at half-back and was justly reward with a free, which the Tigers took full advantage of, as Hugh Beasley streamed through the corridor, driving the ball deep to Oleg Markov.
Markov read the flight of the ball beautifully, out pointing his opponent and clutching the ball above his head.
The dynamic full forward then split the middle and broke the 10-minute deadlock.
Shortly after, Menadue sharked the ball off a forward-50 stoppage and slotted his first major of the quarter.
Casey hit back with its first goal of the afternoon before Blake Grewar released Menadue into space, and the Tiger on-baller snapped truly on his left.
Jake Aarts then showcased his strength and skill in the air, juggling a strong contested grab and coolly slotting his first major.
Richmond matched Casey’s physicality at the coalface and burnt the Demons in transition when the ball was out in space.
Pickett’s goal extended Richmond’s lead to 26 points in the shadows of quarter-time.
The second term was an arm-wrestle, with goals hard to come by.
Oleg Markov showcased his forward craft as he set up Blake Grewar inside 50, who showed his class by easing through his first for the afternoon.
Casey hit back moments later, cutting the margin to 19 points before Markov reset the 25-point margin.
The springy forward marked strongly on the lead and lined up for his set-shot, hemmed in on the boundary in the Richmond Station pocket. He set sail and nailed the shot.
Quarters two and three netted six goals collectively, with both sides holding firm defensively.
Aarts provided the highlight up forward in the third term. With the sturdy small forward buried under a pack, he threw the ball on his boot and it dribbled through for his second major.
Toby Nankervis took command in the final term, asserting his dominance in the ruck and his deft touch by foot.
Nankervis willed himself from contest to contest and was aptly supported by Callum Coleman-Jones.
Coleman-Jones showcased his strength and guile, outmuscling a Demons defender close to goal and snapping truly to kick-start a run of three goals which inevitably secured the win.
Nankervis and Coleman-Jones combined for 39 disposals, 51 hit-outs, eight tackles and two goals in what is proving to be an imperious combination.
Fraser Turner slotted back into his wing role seamlessly, accumulating possessions at will, hitting the arcs all day and pushed back hard into the defensive half to offer support.
Turner finished with an equal team-high 26 disposals along with fellow wingman Patrick Naish, the pair sharing an enviable blend of ball wining-ability and zone piercing disposal.
RICHMOND 5.3 7.4 8.5 12.6 (78)
CASEY 1.1 3.3 4.6 6.7 (43)
Richmond: Aarts (2), Markov (2), Menadue (2), Miller (2), Coleman-Jones, Grewar, Nankervis, Pickett
Casey: Lowden (2), Bedford, Lockhart, Munro