Richmond’s hopes of gatecrashing the AFL top eight are gaining momentum after beating Fremantle by 38 points on Saturday night in driving rain and wild winds at Domain Stadium.
A week after beating Sydney after the siren, Richmond made it two wins on the trot with the 11.17 (83) to 6.9 (45) triumph over the Dockers.
The Tigers set up the win in the second term, booting four goals to one to go into halftime with a 31-point buffer.
Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin was influential, tallying a career-high 39 disposals in his first match back since fracturing his cheekbone.
The result improves Richmond’s record to 3-6.
And with winnable games against Essendon, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Port Adelaide over the next five rounds, the Tigers are well placed to make a charge up the table.
Their only significant challenge over that period is North Melbourne on June 3 in Hobart.
Fremantle remain at the bottom of the table with a 0-9 record.
It’s a reversal to last year, when they won their first nine games on the way to the minor premiership.
Adding to their woes was Zac Dawson’s report for a head-high hit on Steven Morris and defender Alex Pearce’s ankle injury.
Dawson collected Morris with his arm as the Tiger took a mark while running back with the flight of the ball.
Morris was able to shake off the hit to kick the goal, but was knocked unconscious late in the match following a heavy head collision with Clancee Pearce.
Richmond forward Ty Vickery was reported for striking Nick Suban, but the contact seemed minimal.
The severe weather in Perth meant a crowd of just 20,184 turned up for the match – well below actual ticket sales of 43,943.
The ones who did rock up witnessed Hayden Ballantyne kick the first goal of the match.
But from there, the Tigers took control and received some help from an umpire blunder.
Dockers defender Lee Spurr was left fuming when umpire Ray Chamberlain penalised him for a deliberate rushed behind in the second quarter – gifting Ben Griffiths a goal from point-blank range.
Spurr had soccered the ball through for a point, but he was under pressure from Griffiths at the time and shouldn’t have been penalised.
Richmond shot out to a 52-15 lead early in the third quarter, but two quick goals to Ballantyne sparked momentary life into Fremantle.
The second goal was somewhat of a miracle – a shank from the boundary that was headed out on the full before swinging back in for a goal.
But their fightback was short-lived, with the Tigers wresting back momentum to cruise to an easy victory.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon revealed defender Alex Pearce had broken his right tibia, ruling him out for the rest of the year.
“We’re really quite upset at the minute. It doesn’t look great. It’s a confirmed tibia,” Lyon said.
And in an added blow, skipper David Mundy injured his calf late in the match.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was pleased with his team’s effort, but he wasn’t getting carried away.
“For our guys to step up to the plate and get a result, in a pretty fierce stadium, we’re happy,” Hardwick said.
“We’ve still got some work to do though, fair to say.”
Injuries: Richmond: S Morris (head)
Fremantle: A Pearce (broken leg), D Mundy (calf), C Pearce (head), Z Clarke (knee)
Reports: Z Dawson (Frem) reported for rough conduct on S Morris. T Vickery (Rich) reported for striking N Suban.