Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick can’t explain why his team struggle in Victoria and prosper beyond their boundaries.
But he’ll want to find an answer soon, with the Tigers playing their next five matches in Melbourne – four of them at the MCG.
A rousing come-from-behind 18-point win over Sydney at the SCG on Friday night extended Richmond’s perfect road record this season against non-Victorian sides.
In their previous 2015 ventures outside Victoria, they had beaten Brisbane, Port Adelaide and competition leader Fremantle by an impressive combined tally of 139 points.
Their only loss outside Melbourne’s boundaries has been a 35-point defeat by North Melbourne in Hobart.
Conversely, they have a mediocre 3-4 record in Melbourne, where three of those defeats have been to the Western Bulldogs, Geelong and Melbourne, all of whom started the latest round outside the top eight.
“We’ve got to win in Melbourne – that’s our problem. I can’t answer that,” Hardwick said.
“We follow the same process week in, week out with regards to our preparation both for home and away games.
“Away games we seem to gel well and play well.”
The victory over Sydney has moved Richmond to within a win of fourth spot.
The Tigers’ mentor lapsed back into classic cautious coach mode when asked if Richmond could push for a top-four spot.
“We just worry about our block of four (games in a row),” Hardwick said.
“We’re 3-1 in this (last) block.
“We’ll start a new block next week against GWS so, from our point of view, we just worry about us – what’s in front of us the next four weeks.
“We play every moment on its merit and that’s what we’ve got to worry about at this stage and the ladder will take care of itself.”
The next block of four fixtures includes home games against the Giants, Carlton and Fremantle, with a short trip to Etihad Stadium against St Kilda in the third of those four weeks.
Hardwick was happy to settle for a 3-1 split from their latest batch of four games, which included home matches against Essendon and West Coast in addition to away assignments against the Dockers and Swans.
“Absolutely, there’s some terrific sides we’ve played. We’ve been very fortunate we’ve played well for the majority of the four weeks,” Hardwick said.
Richmond’s next game is against injury-hit GWS, who are coming off successive 42 and 56-point thrashings, but Hardwick is way too canny to motivate the Giants by writing them off.
“We’ll make sure we do our due process and pay them the respect they deserve, because I’ve seen them play a couple of times and they are incredible to watch, so we’re going to have our work cut out,” Hardwick said.