Richmond’s premiership defence has been given a confidence boost following a 26-point victory over fellow flag contender Geelong on the Gold Coast.
The Tigers triumphed 7.15 (57) to 4.7 (31) on Friday night to leapfrog the Cats and West Coast into third place on the ladder ahead of the final round of the home-and-away season.
They would seal a top-four spot with a win over the bottom-placed Adelaide on Saturday week.
The Tigers’ victory did come at a cost on the injury front, however, with Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Ivan Soldo (knee) finishing the match on the sideline.
Lynch hurt his hamstring early in the third term, while ruckman Soldo limped out of the match just before half-time after injuring a knee in a collision with Noah Balta.
It is Richmond’s fifth win in their past six matches against the Cats, who had strung together six consecutive victories heading into the encounter.
In a match light on goals, Tigers’ forward Jack Riewoldt was the standout with four majors, while Esava Ratugolea marked his return to the Cats’ team with two fourth-quarter goals.
Dylan Grimes (12 intercepts, six marks) was sensational in his first match back from a hamstring injury, marshalling a defence that gave Cats’ spearhead Tom Hawkins very few scoring opportunities.
Hawkins was held goalless for three quarters, before he finally got in the contest with a set-shot goal in the final quarter.
The big forward’s major was part of a three-goal spree early in the fourth quarter that gave Geelong hope of an unlikely comeback.
When Hawkins played on after marking minutes later but missed his shot, the Tigers ended the Cats’ faint hopes through goals to Jason Castagna and Riewoldt.
Geelong’s 1.4 (10) at the main break was their lowest half-time score since 1957 and that slow start left the Cats with too much to do in the final term in Irishman Zach Tuohy’s 200th AFL match.
The Cats also had an injury concern with Gary Rohan (quad) replaced before the match by debutant Ben Jarvis.
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