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VFL Tigers secure a gutsy win on the road

VFL R14: Oh we're from Tigerland Watch the boys sing the song after the Round 14 win over Essendon.

“Evidence feeds confidence”

Richmond veteran, Sam Lloyd labelled it as one of best wins he’s been a part of and you couldn’t wipe the smile off VFL coach, Craig McRae’s face.

The VFL Tigers trekked to Windy Hill keen to prove that no matter the circumstance, no matter the personnel, that their system holds-up against any opposition.

Richmond was staunchly challenged by fellow top-four counterpart, Essendon, but in the end it was its superior running game, class and defensive prowess which ensured a gutsy 32-point win.

The Tigers, full of vigour and verve, steamed to a 13.11 (89) to 7.15 (57) away win.

With in-form players such as Ivan Soldo, Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles and Jacob Townsend missing through a variety of injury, AFL duties and suspension, the Tigers depth was seriously tested.

However, as Craig McRae has continually preached, “anywhere, anytime, anyone”.

It was up to VFL-listers such as: Joel Ernest, Brenton Credlin, Shaun Mannagh, Connor Riley, Dan Coffield and Tom Silvestro to rise and fill the void, which they did with aplomb.

McRae posed the question to this chargers pre-game, "What do you think the 'Richmond Man' looks like?"

On today’s evidence, the “Richmond Man” exerts asphyxiating pressure, turns-up for his teammates, plays his role and and brings immense intensity from siren to siren.

With roughly a five-goal wind howling to the Nicholson St end, capitalising on that breeze was imperative for both sides, and it was the Tigers who were the first to cash in.

Richmond took a little while to adapt to the conditions, however when it spread the ball to the outside, it streamed forward with venom and class, and continually found space inside-50.

Zippy forward, Shaun Mannagh caused a mountain of headaches for the Bomber defenders, snagging two opening-term majors.

His second goal was set up superbly by burgeoning, tall utility, Noah Balta, whose penetrating ball use shone bright in gloomy conditions.

The Tigers were able to gain the ascendency with a five-goal first quarter, with experienced and young heads in Sam Lloyd and Liam Baker combining superbly through the midfield.

Baker sliced the Bombers to ribbons through the corridor, with his cunning ball-use continually putting his teammates in attacking positions, and Baker was also crafty in-front of goal.

He kicked one major in the opening term and set-up Lloyd as well.

The Bombers’ ball use allowed the Tigers set-up imperiously behind the ball, with Richmond repeatedly thwarting Essendon’s attacking thrusts.

However, once the Bombers added sprinkles of risk, dash and dare into their game, they found their way back into the contest and reduced the margin to seven points at halftime.

Essendon kicked four goals with the wind, but importantly for the Tigers, they were able to jag two of their own early in the term, to keep the Bombers at an arm’s length.

The Tigers lost Ryan Garthwaite to a left ankle injury, which saw him sit out the second half and put another strain on his side’s depth.

Noah Balta was swung back in the final term, with supreme effect, while Ben Miller and Dan Coffield assumed Garthwaite’s anchoring role resolutely.

Connor Menadue rose a level in the third term after being thrust into the midfield and kick-started the Tigers after finding Blake Grewar free inside-50.

Grewar, returning from a long injury lay-off cooly slotted the set-shot, which got the Tigers rolling.

Liam Baker put one up in the jet-stream and watched his running shot from outside 50 clear the pack and bounce through.

After Jacob Ballard pounced on a loose ball and snapped his first, the Tigers re-established their comfortable 29-point and wrestled the game back on their terms.

Essendon slotted the first on the final term to give itself a glimmer of hope, which was quickly quashed by a rampant Tyson Stengle.

Stengle judge the flight of the ball to perfection, flew early and dragged down an absolute classic.

He was awarded a 50-metre penalty, which took him to the goal-line, where he reinstated the Tigers’ five-goal lead, which wouldn’t be challenged again.

Stengle’s last quarter was sublime, but his partner-in-crime, Shai Bolton stole the show with his nomination for goal of the year.

Hemmed in on the boundary in the left forward pocket, in a sea of Bombers, Bolton shrugged two would-be tacklers, danced out of congestion and snapped on his right, sending the shivering Tiger Army into raptures.

This was a win that was once again built on heart, guts, bundled with class, and would have warmed the heart of any Tiger fan.

RICHMOND   5.3       7.3       10.9     13.11 (89)

ESSENDON   1.2       5.8       5.11     7.15 (57)

Goal Kickers:

Richmond: S. Mannagh 3, L. Baker 2, B. Grewar, S. Bolton, C. Coleman-Jones, W. Coates, C. Menadue, T. Stengle, S. Lloyd, J. Ballard

Essendon: D. Younan 2, J. Stewart 2, K. Huntly, N. Hind, J. Merrett