After being pummelled by arctic blasts for the best part of a month, Melbourne turned on a sparkling winter’s day at Skybus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The ever-changing nature of the 2021 VFL season meant that Frankston and Richmond remerged from a two-week hiatus for their Round 16 clash.
Richmond weathered a barrage of Dolphins’ pressure and inflicted a fair amount of its own, running over the top of its hosts by 16 points.
Down a rotation minutes before the opening bounce, the Tigers had to manage injuries during the game and in the end, their heart got them over the line, the final score reading 15.9 (99) to 12.11 (83).
The multidimensional forward line, headed by Noah Cumberland and Hugo Ralphsmith, were potent and manic once the ball hit the deck, ensuring it either stayed in Richmond’s forward half or exited under maximum pressure.
Samson Ryan was herculean, kicking two crucial goals in the final quarter and playing a sole hand in the ruck.
Ryan was pitted against an experienced ruckman, but steeled himself, getting his hand to the ball and feeding the midfielders at his feet.
A collective nine goals were kicked in a frenetic last quarter, Richmond jagging five and Frankston four, with the budding Tigers holding off their more seasoned opponent.
The Tigers started sluggishly, as Frankston jumped to an early lead with a goal in the opening minute, with a bevy of Dolphins lining up in the corridor.
The Dolphins owned the opening minutes, with Richmond struggling to get any flash or flow into its game.
Luckily for the Tigers, Frankston failed to capitalise on its dominance in general play, and the visitors made them pay.
Richmond went on a 10-minute tear, netting four unanswered goals, two each to emerging youngsters, Cumberland and Ralphsmith.
Richmond’s first was kicked by Ralphsmith, with the dashing wingman deployed as a deep forward, a swooped on a loose ball inside 50 and snapped truly.
Cumberland, fresh off five goals a fortnight earlier against Collingwood, showcased his grunt and potency inside 50 with a quick snap from congestion for the Tigers’ second goal.
Cumberland displayed his grunt and tenacity with his second goal, trapping a Dolphins’ defender at the top of the goal square where he was justly rewarded with a free-kick and goal.
Ralphsmith’s second goal came via a set-shot after marking sharply on the lead.
The Tigers led by 11 points at quarter time.
The pressure went up a notch in the second term, as Frankston played the role of niggling host.
Cumberland waltzed into an open goal, kicking the opening goal of the quarter, taking his haul to three after 40 minutes of football.
Will Martyn and Riley Collier-Dawkins started to exert their influence around the ball and in transition, with both providing good balance inside and outside the contest.
The pair are pushing their claim for a senior recall, and their opening-half performance wouldn’t have done their claims any harm.
Martyn was a battering ram and showcased his poise with ball in hand, streaming forward from multiple centre bounces.
Collier-Dawkins was a bull, rarely lost his feet in the contest, kept his hands free and set-up his teammates on the outside.
They were handsomely supported by pocket dynamo, Maurice Rioli, whose influence on games has grown as the year has ticked on.
Rioli’s ferocity at the man and ball are likeable traits, and his decision making in traffic by hand or foot cannot be underestimated. He’s quick to pounce and attempt to win the ball back, which he’s usually successful at.
A three-goal-to-two second term extended the Tigers' lead to 18 points at the main break.
Bigoa Nyuon suited up for just his fifth game with premiership points on the line, and after a solid day out last time against Collingwood, he looked to grow from that performance against Frankston.
His scope looks infinite and possesses the traits to be moulded into a very capable key defender at AFL level.
The athletic big man’s situational understanding of where to deploy himself and where he’s best utilised is growing by the week.
He left the field midway through the third term with an eye injury and didn’t re-emerge.
Pressure in the third quarter was just as high, as the Dolphins cut the deficit to just eight points heading into the final term.
Patrick Naish had a tweak in his role this week, spending time at the centre bounce, splitting his time between midfield and wing.
Naish’s ability to win the contested ball and get on the fly at the centre bounce and at stoppages was a real weapon at times.
The dynamic Tiger kick started the road to victory, slotting a set-shot from beyond the boundary and the paint of 50, underlining his skill and ability to execute in big moments.
Richmond stretched its lead to 30-points midway through the last quarter before the Dolphins booted two in a row, including one on the siren, but to no avail.
The Dolphins came at Richmond from all angles, but Richmond matched them in the contest and then inflicted maximum damage inside 50.
FRANKSTON: 2.4 4.4 8.9 12.11 (83)
RICH: 4.3 7.4 10.5 15.9 (99)
Richmond: Cumberland (3), Ralphsmith (3), Olden (3), Ryan (2), Scanlon (2), Naish (1), Bartlett (1)