The sense of relief around the MCG was almost palpable as the final siren sounded on Richmond’s nine-point win over Carlton.
As it seems only the Tigers can, they tortured their expectant fans with an error-riddled display against a side taking its first step in a long rebuilding process before averting disaster with a late scoring burst that secured a 14.8 (92) to 12.11 (83) win.
Coach Damien Hardwick said that his team was lucky to get out of jail against their unfancied opponents, who held a 10-point lead in the last quarter.
“It’s good to tick off the four points but we’ve certainly got a lot of work to do,” Hardwick said.
“I’ve never seen our side give up so many centre forward turnovers and give the ball up to the opposition.
“It’s probably testament to their pressure, which was very good.
“We were probably lucky that we were good enough at the end to win the game.”
The coach praised inexperienced midfielder Kane Lambert, who he said almost single-handedly dragged his side over the line in just his 14th career game.
Heading into the match Richmond had won just two of the nine matches they’d played in the past two seasons when Brett Deledio was absent.
They’ll need to cover his loss better against Collingwood next week, with Hardwick admitting the star playmaker will battle to overcome a quad injury in time.
“Running’s fine, he’s just got to pass kicking. He’s got a quad issue, so that’s the big test for it,” said Hardwick.
“If he didn’t have to kick and could just run around he’d be no issues, but it’s pretty important to kick the ball in AFL footy at some stage.
“So we’ll see how that one goes. He’s probably doubtful at this stage, but we’ll see.”
The Tigers are more confident that Ivan Maric (back soreness) and Shaun Grigg (thumb) will be available.