ONE OF the highlights from the Geelong-Richmond clash at the MCG last Sunday was returning Tiger Daniel Rioli's gut-busting, multiple-effort play which ended in his first AFL goal in almost nine months.
The play, late in the last quarter, epitomised exactly why the Tigers were so keen to get the creative forward back into the side after his extended absence following the broken foot he suffered in last year's Grand Final against Adelaide.
Rioli's decisive goal, which all but sealed Richmond's 16th straight victory at the MCG, underlined a key reason it remains the benchmark side of the competition.
Kane Lambert and Jack Riewoldt's desire and want to keep the ball alive and moving forward sum up his now-selfless approach to the game, but it is also an obvious Richmond tactic.
Yes, the sodden conditions at the MCG were conducive to gaining ground wherever possible. However, when you dive a little deeper into the stats it becomes clear that knocking the ball to a teammate's advantage is something the Tigers focus on.
Richmond is ranked No.1 in the competition for converting knock-ons to scores (34 per cent), edging out Fremantle (32 per cent) and Collingwood (30 per cent).
|Richmond's knock-on kings|
St Kilda has 103 knock-ons, best in the AFL, but has only converted 23 per cent of those to scores. The Saints' struggles in front of the big sticks (they are 16th for scoring) are a direct contrast to Richmond's scoring power (second-best for points for) this season.
A knock-on is defined by Champion Data as a tap by hand (not from the ruck) that either gains significant distance or goes to a teammate.
As seen in the video above, the Tigers have utilised knock-ons to generate scores and keep the opposition under direct and indirect pressure.
The Tigers are ranked No.1 in the AFL for total knock-ons in the attacking midfield zone and are best in the competition in the same category in the defensive midfield zone.
|Richmond's ranking by zone||Total knock-ons|
|Att mid||34||Equal 1st|
Keeping the ball in play wherever possible suits the swarming pressure Richmond attempts to apply to its opposition and the small forward personnel it has in its forward line, which includes Rioli, Jason Castagna, Dan Butler and Jack Higgins, feed off those turnovers.
Josh Caddy's deft tap to Dustin Martin on the wing in the third term against Geelong that led to Dan Butler's goal is a case in point, with the speed of Castagna (who had just come off the interchange bench for Higgins) and the hard running of Butler coming to the fore.
The reigning premier's intent to move the ball in a direct manner and shift it to the open side where possible came through in its win over the Cats, as it has for most of the season.
Port Adelaide's 14-point win over Richmond in round 12 provided a blueprint of how to best take the Tigers away from the game they want to play.
The Power hammered the Tigers at the clearances (49-35), contested possessions (187-154) and owned field position, making it difficult for Richmond's defenders to exit the ball from the backline with any purpose.
They are common themes that have cropped up in all of Richmond's losses this season. Adelaide enjoyed the midfield ascendancy in its win in round two while West Coast (in round nine) prevented the Tigers from keeping the ball trapped in the forward line.
With Rioli back in the side for the first time this season, Richmond had 19 premiership players in the team against the Cats. And with Dion Prestia (groin), David Astbury (ankle) and Bachar Houli (groin) to return soon, the Tigers again look like a formidable team heading into September.
Greater Western Sydney