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Cubs impress as VFL Tigers hold-off Magpies

Miles superb in VFL practice match Watch highlights from Anthony Miles in Richmond's VFL practice match win over Collingwood.

As the light faded, the contest heated up, with Thursday night’s game at the Swinburne Centre mirroring Melbourne’s autumn heatwave, as Richmond eclipsed a gallant Collingwood by ten points.

The VFL Tigers welcomed their cross-town rivals, in what turned out to be a hotly contested practice match, with the hosts saluting, 13.7 (85) to 11.9 (75).

It was fitting that Richmond’s win was capped by a member of its youthful brigade, with Jack Higgins showcasing his wares and nous with a cat-like right-foot snap out of congestion icing the game.

Higgins buzzed around Punt Road Oval with energy and purpose, finishing with 23 disposals, nine tackles and a goal in an industrious display.

He has a cheekiness and a hardened persona that will definitely endear himself to the Tiger Army in 2018 and beyond.

The crowd that made the trek would have been delighted by the balmy Thursday evening conditions they were greeted with, but also the form of some budding Tiger talls.

All of Ryan Garthwaite, Mabior Chol, Noah Balta and Ben Miller showed enough to suggest that their development is going to head in an upward trajectory in 2018, at either VFL or AFL level.

Scroll down for more Cameron Grimes photos from Thursday night's Richmond VFL match

Development and VFL backline coach, Ryan Ferguson took the reins on Thursday night, and was suitably impressed by the way the young Tiger talls responded at being challenged during the week.

“I like that they responded to a call that last week we thought we weren’t working well enough together,” Ferguson said.

“I really liked their aerial connection, and their ability to work for each other.

“We practiced it and it came through in flying colours, so that was a real positive.”

Follow the Official Richmond VFL account on Instagram for all the behind the scenes action on match day

Ferguson was particularly pleased with the connection and chemistry shown by Garthwaite and his sidekick, Miller.

“He (Ryan Garthwaite) played to his strengths, his spoiling, his aerial contest, his ability to win or halve contests was a ripper for us,” Ferguson said.

“His partner-in-crime, Ben Miller, I thought his communication and his ability to impact contests for a first-year player was really strong too, so we’ve got a lot of growth out of our talls right across the ground, in particular our backs.”

The Tigers took a little while to warm into the game, as Collingwood scored with relative ease and efficiency, until Callum Moore and Tyson Stengle ignited the home-side.

Moore backed-up his two-goal effort against North Melbourne in a JLT Series game at Ikon Park, and brought that form with him on Thursday night.

A feat not lost on Ferguson.

“He kicked a couple of goals (on Wednesday) night, and he continued that on today (Thursday), which is a credit to him,” Ferguson said.

“To back-up a half of AFL footy, then to come with the excitement and energy to play the game, he wasn’t going through the motions, he was ready to join the team and play.

“It was a great credit to him to stand-up like that.”

His aerial superiority and dynamism led to a goal to Noah Balta, handing Richmond the lead, which they never surrender for the remainder of the game.

A stern intercept at half-back by newly-appointed skipper, Steven Morris led to Anthony Miles finding Callum Moore free at centre-half forward. Moore soared high, with his strong mitts and slick hands leading to Noah Balta finding space inside 50.

Balta had to cut his usual, Michael Holding-like run-up short, as he hugged the boundary in front of the Swinburne Centre, it didn’t bother the young tall in the slightest, as his set-shot sailed through at goal-post height.

Tyson Stengle wowed the crowd in the opening half, slotting two first-term majors and his dazzling footwork left a number of Magpies in his wake.

Stengle finished with 11 disposals, five tackles and two goals in what was a heartening display.

The Tigers stifled the Magpies in the second term, with nuggetty VFL-forward, Jake Aarts jagging two of the Tigers’ three majors for the quarter.

Post-half-time, the contest really tightened up, with the likes of Moore, Nathan Broad and Steven Morris subbed out of the game to manage their workload.

The Tigers remarkably used 30 players on Thursday night to ensure that everyone was rewarded with sufficient minutes in the build-up to Round 1.

“We got lots of game-time into guys we needed to get game-time into - VFL guys, experienced guys, guys that are trying to make our list - we got to play a lot of our AFL guys as well,” Ferguson said.

“In a lot of different ways, we learnt a lot today about individuals, about our team, our brand and how we want to play.”

The competitive nature in which the Tigers went about their work after being challenged multiple times during the match was a credit to them, and highlights the growing connection, chemistry and care of the club as a whole.

RICHMOND                          4.2       7.6       10.7     13.7 (85)
COLLINGWOOD                   3.2       4.4       7.7       11.9 (75)

Aarts 2, Stengle 2, Balta, Grewar, Higgins, Mannagh, Miles, Moore, Silvestro, Thompson, Wood

Collingwood: Close 2, Fasolo 2, McLarty 2, Daicos, Lane, Mayne, Sier, Stanford