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VFL Tigers withstand the challenge, and streak past Zebras

VFL R7: Oh we're from Tigerland Watch the boys sing the song after the Round 7 win over Sandringham.

Use your experience to feel comfortable in your surroundings.

Richmond VFL coach, Craig McRae drummed this into his chargers pre-game, and it was fitting that he used a story about a Tiwi Island fishing trip he had with Daniel Rioli’s father to do so.

It was the Tigers’ third time venturing to Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield, with the comfort levels rising upon each return.

After a dour first half, the Tigers put the foot down and motored to 65-point win, finishing 14.14 (98) to 4.9 (33).

The Tiger faithful that made the journey, would have been delighted to see the No.17 grace the field in the yellow and black once again.

Rioli nearly had the perfect start after pouncing on an errant Zebras’ kick, he streamed inside 50, steadied and unfortunately, just missed.

It was classic Rioli; cat-like reflexes, coupled with electric pace, and a dash of flair.

Rioli played the first-half and then took no further part, as he was eased through his first game since last year’s Premiership.

The Richmond fans would have loved opening up their VFL record and seeing a forward-line containing, Rioli, Shai Bolton and Tyson Stengle for the first time ever.

With the latter hitting the scoreboard in the opening term.

It took Bolton all of 90 seconds to kick his and Richmond’s first for the day, and Stengle slotted his in the shadows of quarter-time.

Stengle’s major was set-up by Mabior Chol, who found space in the corridor, swung onto his slicing left boot and found Stengle 15-metres out, goal-side of his opponent.

Chol has all the tools, size, speed, strength and skill, and when he puts it all together, he’s an imposing footballer and a joy to watch.

The Zebras pride themselves on the contested aspect of their game, and the game reflected that.

Both sides really cracked in all day, but no-one hit harder than Steve Morris.

Morris collected Sandringham’s, Nathan Freeman with a perfectly timed and fair hip-and-shoulder in the opening term.

Which put the luckless Freeman out of the game with a shoulder injury.

It was willing in the clinches, with both sides sharing the ascendency, with the respective midfields being fed by seasoned ruckmen, in Ivan Soldo and Billy Longer.

Soldo and Longer shared patches of dominance, which was the trend of the game.

The second term was tight and dour, with both sides sharing a goal apiece.

Sandringham was on the board early in the second, following a classy snap by Tom Lamb, who capitalised on a defensive turnover by the Tigers.

The Tigers had to wait until time-on in the second quarter before they registered their only major for the term, kicked by Brandon Wood via a freekick.

While scoring was tough in the second term, it was polar opposite in the third quarter for the Tigers.

Goals to Blake Grewar (2), Chol, Callum Moore, Corey Ellis and Ryan Bathie gave Richmond the scoreboard ascendancy it was after and dented the spirits of the Zebras.

A couple of Tiger talls wowed the crowd in the third term, with Chol and Moore dragging down two ripping grabs.

Chol soared above the pack deep inside-50, early in the quarter, while Moore stormed out of the goal-square minutes later and plucked a single-hander, both capping off their fine work with goals.

Corey Ellis also showcased his aerial courage, late in the quarter as Tyson Stengle picked out Ellis floating inside-50, with the silky midfielder tracking the ball in the air and marking.

And, in true Ellis fashion, he eased through his set-shot on his trusty left boot.

Callum Moore and Mabior Chol both added to their goal tallies in the final term, as Moore plucked another one-hand mark.

Anthony Miles put the finishing touches on another Miles-like performance, roving the ball to perfection and storming into the open goal.

Debutant, Harry Tanner provided a last-quarter highlight, gaining reward with his first VFL goal after mowing down an unsuspecting Zebras’ defender.

With the boy from Altona Football Club becoming lost in a swarm of Tigers teammates.

It would be remiss not to touch on the staunch and resolute performance by the Tigers back-six, in particular and run and dash of Oleg Markov and Connor Menadue.

Markov shone brightest when the game was at its hottest in the opening term, with his trademark dash and flair making a return, he finished with 20 disposals.

Menadue finished with a team-high 24 disposals, but it was his ability to defend in critical contests, nullify his opponent and then springboard from there which pleased the coaching staff greatly.

It was another mature performance, which was seriously challenging at times, but the Tigers embraced the struggle and fought it out right to the final siren.

Shai Bolton came off in the third quarter with a corked quad and took no further part in the game.

TIGERS          3.3       4.7       10.9     14.14 (98)

ZEBRAS         2.1       3.6       4.6       4.9 (33)