Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has praised the courage of Trent Cotchin and Ben Griffiths after the Tigers flirted with AFL disaster against Gold Coast.
While Dustin Martin was clearly best afield in Sunday’s 17-point win at the MCG, Hardwick singled out Cotchin and Griffiths for their performances under duress.
A loss to the Suns would have killed off Richmond’s season, but they came behind twice in the last quarter to win 17.12 (112) to 15.7 (97).
Hardwick revealed Cotchin spent a day in hospital last week with a kidney infection and noted Griffiths suffered an ankle injury in their heavy loss to North Melbourne.
“They are pretty big things for us, for those guys to get up and play when we’re a little bit undermanned,” Hardwick said of Cotchin and Griffiths.
“He (Cotchin) is just a star that bloke, he really is – a good player, a good leader.”
Cotchin and Griffiths were among Richmond’s best as Martin lit up a cold MCG day with 36 possessions and two goals.
Once again, as they have done all season, Richmond did this the hard way.
They were 15 points behind in the last quarter before rallying with six of the last seven goals.
“We’re not having big wins, it’s always pretty close,” Hardwick said.
“We’re not a ‘win by 100 points on a consistent basis Hawthorn type thing’.”
While the Suns have not won since round three, they came into this game feeling they were a strong chance.
They kicked five goals to one in a dominating third quarter, but paid for elementary mistakes in the last term.
Hardwick, admitting to frustration about how his team was playing, had words with match officials at three-quarter time.
Seconds earlier, an umpire had called Brandon Ellis to play on when the Tigers midfielder thought he had a shot on goal.
“It’s just one of those things when it’s on the three-quarter time siren (and) your coach isn’t happy with the quarter,” Hardwick said.
“It’s probably the last thing I need, coming down the stairs.”
One of the highlights of the match was the duel between Suns key forward Tom Lynch, who kicked four goals, and Alex Rance.
While Lynch was high among Gold Coast’s best, Rance also impressed.
“You have to give credit to that kid (Lynch), he’s kicked 30-odd goals and I think they’ve only averaged 40-odd inside 50s,” Hardwick said.
“God forbid if they average 60 – he’s a monster.”
Captain Gary Ablett was best for the Suns, who rued a lost opportunity.
“It’s just not acceptable … and certainly one that got away,” said Suns coach Rodney Eade.
Suns defender Kade Kolodjashnij was taken to hospital as a precaution after he was knocked out in a sickening collision.
“If his neck’s okay, he should be alright when we play in two weeks,” Eade said.