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VFL Tigers out-muscled by Lions

Reece Conca wins one of his 32 touches against Coburg on Sunday afternoon (Photo: Cameron Grimes Photography)

Richmond’s VFL side didn’t register its first major until the two-minute mark of the last quarter in a 33-point loss to Coburg at Piranha Park on Sunday.

In drizzly, soggy conditions the Lions simply outworked and out-hunted the Tigers early in the first term and ran away with the game thereafter, finishing 9.10 (64) to 3.13 (31).

Going into the game, Richmond knew that a positive result hinged on winning the contested ball given the fact that Coburg was VFL No.1 for clearances, centre clearances and hitouts to advantage.

It was drummed into the Tigers during the week and pre-game that the “contest is king” and unfortunately at quarter-time, they found themselves -19 in contested possessions.

In the opening ten minutes, Coburg continually led their Richmond counterparts to the ball and were much cleaner in the clinches and efficacious moving forward.

Richmond struggled to win the ball, and when they did, they struggled to control it for any meaningful length of time, as the Lions made the most of their chances inside 50.

The Tigers’ will and intent to tackle could not be questioned as Marcon, Conca, Townsend and Short continually put their bodies on the line in the opening term, registering a +9 tackle count.

One Tiger who paid the price for courage was ruckman Ivan Soldo who chased down a ground ball, came off second best, and was consequently taken from the field in the arms of the trainers.

Soldo took no further part in the game.

The Lions held a handy 14-point lead at quarter-time, which was stretched to 26 points very early in the second term courtesy of two goals from Ahmed Saad.

Coburg slotted four goals on the trot in the second term as they skipped to a 37-point lead at the main change.

Much like the opening term, Richmond tackled well, but just couldn’t get hands on the footy and the weight of numbers for Coburg going forward won out.

Liam McBean had a chance in the third term to kick the Tigers’ first, but his set-shot drifted wide in what was a disappointing day for Richmond’s forwards.

VFL Round 9: Conca highlights

In a positive for Richmond, they were able to win the contested possessions (+3) and inside 50 count for the first time in the match, but simply couldn’t hit the scoreboard.

McBean redeemed himself early in the final term as his left-foot snap dribbled through and the Tigers were finally on the board.

Their first major kicked the Tigers into gear as Reece Conca found space where there was none and slotted his first and some smart work by zippy forward Dan Butler handed Richmond its third.

The Tigers won the final term by 11 points and added some respectability to the scoreboard on what was a very gloomy day.

Richmond VFL coach Craig McRae was frank in his assessment of the side’s early work in the contest, which ultimately cost it in the end.

“I thought in the first five minutes their (Coburg) contest was stronger than ours”, McRae said.

“We addressed that before the game, we addressed it yesterday (Saturday) going into the game, because we knew it was a strength of theirs.

“We got out-muscled, out-hunted and outplayed in the first five minutes and it was two goals before we even woke up to ourselves.”

McRae also highlighted the side’s issues forward of centre that will need to be addressed moving forward.

“It’s been a constant struggle for us over the last two or three games,” he said.

“Last week particularly we didn’t capitalise on forward entries...and then again today we tried all sorts of things.

“We had players up higher, we had players back deeper, but at the end of the day we’re not winning enough contests in there - in the air or at ground level.”     

Reece Conca thrust himself further into AFL contention with another stellar performance, amassing 32 disposals, 21 contested, laying ten tackles and kicking a major.  

Mabior Chol started positively as a key-back once again, and at times proved impassable, with his defiant spoiling and ability to restrict standing out.

Chol was shifted forward in the final term, providing an aerial presence and won a handful of contests.

The Tigers will look to bounce back against Werribee next Sunday, June 12, in a curtain raiser at Punt Road Oval, with the first bounce at 12:30pm.