Hardwick backs Tigers’ tall timber

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is backing his three-pronged tall attack to get the job done against Sydney on the confines of the SCG.

Hardwick has shown a willingness to play tall forwards Jack Riewoldt, Ben Griffiths and Ty Vickery in the same attack this season and he sees no reason to leave out one of his big men given the smaller dimensions of the SCG.

“They’re all different in the way that they play,” Hardwick said on Thursday.

“We’re quite capable of playing Jack and Griff up the ground and Ty as well at various stages. “They cover the ground well for bigger players. “But the big thing about this is we’ve got to make sure that we kick some goals at ground level. “We were disappointed in that facet of our game last week (in the loss to West Coast). We couldn’t manufacture a goal.”

The last time these two sides played was back in round 23 last season when the barnstorming Tigers scored an upset win over the ladder-leading Swans – their ninth in a row – to confirm their spot in the finals.

Hardwick said that a lot had changed since then but admitted his players would take some confidence from the stunning three-point victory at ANZ Stadium.

Richmond will need to curb the influence of Swans’ tall targets Kurt Tippett and Lance Franklin, which Hardwick said would require a defensive effort from the entire team. “Probably the mistake sides make is Sydney don’t overly take a lot of marks inside 50 but they’re incredible at ground level,” he said.

“You even look at guys like Tippett and Franklin – from a marking point-of-view they’re reasonably consistent – but they’re very dangerous at ground level also. “We’ve just got to make sure that we bring our ‘A-game’, we get numbers back there to help those players to get the ball back out.”

A duel between Alex Rance and Franklin is a tantalising prospect, but while Hardwick agreed Rance had done well on the Sydney superstar before, he stopped short of declaring it his preferred match-up.

Tigers fans can look forward to seeing Rance in action for another four years after the All-Australian defender signed a new deal with the club last week, ending months of speculation the devout Jehovah’s Witness could walk away from the game.

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