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VFL Tigers win first road trip for 2016

VFL R18: Lambert has 37 and kicks 3 Watch Kane Lambert's highlights from the Round 18 match against the Northern Blues.

Kane Lambert was a whisker away from suiting up against Collingwood on Friday night and the early preparation worked wonders in the VFL Tigers clinical 44-point win over Northern Blues.

In an expected first half shootout, which yielded 20 goals collectively, Lambert helped himself to three majors — his third was a stunner.

Friday night’s emergency swooped on a loose ball, and while tracing the boundary line, snapped truly on his left which capped off an eye-catching first-half showcase.

Lambert’s goal in the shadows of half-time handed Richmond a three-point lead, which the Tigers never relinquished as they stifled the Blues to win 19.11 (125) to 13.3 (81).

The Tigers impressively restricted the Blues to just 36 inside 50s in total and banged the ball inside their attacking 50 on 61 occasions.

The first half was played at breakneck speed, as both sides put defending on the backburner.

The opening term alone saw both sides kick six goals apiece with momentum swinging like a pendulum.

Tiger-tall Todd Elton got his day off on the right foot by exuding some early aerial dominance inside his side’s attacking 50, and importantly kicked truly.

The Blues hit back swiftly with back-to-back majors before the returning Ben Lennon answered for the Tigers with class.

VFL R18: Lennon kicks 3 in return

Lennon gathered on the paint of the 50-metre arc, dissected a duo of Blues defenders, steadied and slotted his first goal of the day, handing the visitors back the lead.

Tiger swingman Callum Moore should be handed the goal assist on the stats sheet, after chasing down an unsuspecting Blue, which led to Lennon’s major.

Moore’s tackle epitomised Richmond’s relentless and ruthless pressure throughout, be it applied or perceived, which ultimately thwarted and stifled the Blues’ manic, run-and-gun style.

In a theme for the first half, the Blues hit back instantly, as both sides traded goals up to quarter time.

Tiger goals came via Tom Couch, Jake Aarts, Nathan Broad and Lambert as the latter rubbed salt into the hosts’ wound.

Lambert, a former Blue, returned to his old haunt and performed with aplomb, finishing with 37 disposals and three goals in a best-on-ground display.

His goal handed the Tigers a slender two-point lead at the first break as both sides welcomed to the quarter-time siren like boxers battling for the round-one bell.

The Tigers and Blues went to their respective corners, or huddles, and took a much needed breather as Craig McRae installed some calm after a frenetic opening.

How the first term unfolded came as little surprise to McRae, as Richmond’s VFL and Development Coach ensured that if the Tigers maintained their manic pressure, then the Blues would yield.

The second term played out much like the first, as Blues’ key-forward Liam Jones stamped his authority on the game.

Jones nailed a second-term double and was looking ominous, before Lambert and the Tigers diverted the narrative.

Lambert goaled soon after Jones’ first, as the Blues’ hit back instantly with a pair of majors, before Connor Menadue, debutant James Cousins, and Lambert again, grasped back the momentum.

The game was hanging by a thread at half-time, and was set-up for an enthralling second half.

Impressively, Richmond slammed on nine goals to three post half-time as the Blues had little answer for the methodical style of the Tigers.

Budding Tiger tall Liam McBean showcased his nous and forward craft with four second-half majors, in a performance that would have done his AFL aspirations little harm.

McBean kicked a third-quarter double, with the second a superb right foot snap from the boundary.

VFL R18: McBean's four goal haul

Lennon also bagged a third-term major, while Mabior Chol capped off the quarter in grand style.

Chol dragged down a towering mark on the stroke of three-quarter time, and kicked the Tigers to a 24-point lead heading into the final term.

McRae reiterated at the final change that “strong defence gets the game done” and the Tigers agreed.

McBean kickstarted the quarter, before skipper Sam Darley made the most of a rare foray forward, finishing with class from the 50-metre arc.

Goals to McBean, Butler and Lennon put the icing on the cake and capped off a clinical and convincing win for the Tigers, displaying once again their evolving maturity and belief.

Lennon will push for a late season call-up at AFL level as he finished with 23 disposals, 12 marks and three goals.  

Richmond VFL-listed players Jacob Ballard (27 disposals) and Aarts (23 disposals and one goal) were solid across four quarters, as were Tiger cubs Connor Menadue (23 disposals and a goal) and Jason Castagna (22 disposals).

Corey Ellis returned from 10 weeks on the sidelines and importantly got through unscathed and showed flashes of silky brilliance.

Richmond hosts Geelong next Sunday, August 14 at 5pm in a curtain-closer at Punt Road Oval.