Star Richmond AFL duo Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt set the tone early on Saturday as the Tigers marched to an emphatic 71-point NAB Challenge win over an undermanned Hawthorn.
A Hawks side missing a host of premiership stars – including Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Isaac Smith and Luke Breust – couldn’t stay with the Tigers after quarter-time, with Damien Hardwick’s men going on to post a 1.15.5 (104) to 0.4.9 (33) win in front of a sell-out crowd of 6384 at Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield.
After a scrappy first quarter, Richmond bounced out to a 27-point lead at halftime, then increased their advantage to 43 points at the last break, before finishing the job in impressive fashion.
In their first games of this pre-season campaign, Martin and Riewoldt were influential from the outset. Playing on the ball and resting inside attacking 50, Martin gathered 25 possessions and took eight marks, while Riewoldt grabbed 10 marks, had five score involvements and kicked the only nine-point goal of the game.
There was much to like about the performance after a youthful line-up went down last week to Fremantle, with Shane Edwards (four goals), Alex Rance (26 possessions) and Trent Cotchin (21 touches and two goals) also impressing in their first outings of the NAB Challenge.
“(Jack’s) first quarter probably set us up today and he was pretty good up the ground, definitely,” said assistant coach Brendon Lade, who deputised for Hardwick against the Hawks.
“All of the guys that came back in did a job for us today. Dustin did some good things but it was a pity he couldn’t kick a couple of goals in the end.
“We identified a few areas last week that we were poor at and we fixed a few of those. Obviously, Hawthorn were pretty undermanned – they had a few premiership stars out … but we had a few things to work on and we did that well.”
Bachar Houli, Brandon Ellis and Anthony Miles also played key roles, while Lade was pleased with cameos from youngsters Daniel Rioli, Oleg Markov and Mabior Chol.
Liam Shiels skippered the Hawks in the absence of Hodge and he was important with a team-high 20 touches, with veterans Josh Gibson, Jordan Lewis and Shaun Burgoyne also influential.
Cyril Rioli played his first game of the pre-season and the Norm Smith medallist will be better for the run, gathering just three touches without scoring before he was put in cotton wool at halftime.
Hawthorn assistant Brett Ratten stood in for senior coach Alastair Clarkson for the match and he allayed fears Rioli had suffered an injury, saying he was always going to be eased back into action.
“We got game time into players, which is a positive because we want to manage our list. Cyril was down for a half, so he ticks that off, which is good,” Ratten said.
“The scoreboard probably wasn’t great for us but we got game time into players and they’re right to go next week.
“The NAB Challenge is about finding out about talent and players that you can call on throughout the year.”
Hawthorn didn’t escape unscathed, however, with ruckman Jack Fitzpatrick limping off in the final term after hyper-extending a knee in a marking contest.