A strong showing from an inexperienced defence led the ‘Black’ side to a start-to-finish victory over the ‘Yellow’ outfit in this morning’s Richmond intra-club match at Punt Road Oval.
In the most serious hit-out of this pre-season so far, the defence made up of David Astbury, Nathan Broad, Nick Vlastuin, and Jake Batchelor and Todd Elton at times, restricted a forward line consisting of key talls Jack Riewoldt, Ty Vickery and Liam McBean to just four goals until deep into the final period of play.
The Yellow side made a late charge in the last of six 15-minute periods, booting three of the final four goals of the match, but the Black side were never headed as they cruised to a deserved victory.
Sparked into action by Jacob Townsend and Anthony Miles roving to Ben Griffiths around the ground at the beginning of the match, the two former GWS players drifted forward and were rewarded with the opening two Black goals of the game. In promising signs, the Tigers’ top draft pick from last year, Daniel Rioli was involved in the build-up of both goals.
Ivan Soldo burst out and marked strongly on the lead from a Troy Chaplin centering pass inside 50 and converted to end the first period of play. An Oleg Markov goal from a 50-metre penalty was the only major the Yellow side could muster in that time. Soldo seemingly grew in confidence from that contest, impressing across the ground in the ruck. A poke in the eye was the only sore point of his morning, but he managed to play out he game
The second period saw more of the same, with the Black side adding a further three unanswered goals – all through mid-sized options in Brandon Ellis, Sam Lloyd and Kane Lambert – with the Yellow side failing to penetrate the opposition defensive set-up. Conversely, Reece Conca, Connor Menadue and Broad were able to supply plenty of rebound back into attack for the Blacks.
A desperate Shaun Grigg spoil ended up in the hands of Riewoldt which led to the second goal for the Yellow side. The club’s six-time leading goalkicker laid the ball perfectly into the path of Shane Edwards, who didn’t break stride as he strolled into an open goal. Edwards would repay the favour later in the match when he expertly found the leading Riewoldt lace out, and the reigning All-Australian made no mistake with the set-shot.
The Yellow side’s standout player, Dustin Martin, who was dominant throughout the midfield, dodged and weaved to create space on the half-forward line eventually finding captain Trent Cotchin inside 50 with a neat pass. The skipper went back and nailed his long set-shot on the 50-metre arc to bring the margin back to an even three goals in the fourth term, but that was as close as it got with Brandon Ellis answering back quickly with another fine long-range goal for his second.
An Elton spoil, gather and switch of play to Conca ended up with Townsend courageously marking deep inside 50 and kicking his second, while Adam Marcon and Jayden Short both bobbed up with a couple of nice snapped goals for the Yellow team late in the contest.
Marcon caught the eye on a couple of occasions with his work around centre clearances and moving the ball inside 50, while fellow rookie Mabior Chol took a couple of very nice marks for the opposition, but just missed with his set-shots in what was otherwise a pressing claim for NAB Challenge selection.
Pleasingly for the Club, the players emerged unscathed from the match on the injury front. Vice-captain Brett Deledio, recent recruit Chris Yarran, and Nathan Drummond all completed running programs before the start of the match, with Yarran and Deledio then watching the hit-out from the sidelines on exercise bikes.
Richmond will select a 29-man squad next Wednesday ahead of Friday’s opening NAB Challenge match against Fremantle in Mandurah.
Black 10.8 68
Yellow 7.8 50
Black – B. Ellis 2, Townsend 2, Lloyd 2, Miles, Soldo, Lambert, Lennon
Yellow – Markov, Edwards, Cotchin, McBean, Riewoldt, Marcon, Short
Jack Riewoldt and Nathan Broad do battle at Punt Road on Friday morning