Richmond has handily accounted for Hawthorn on a special day at Devonport Oval, winning in the sides’ AAMI Community Series match, 14.10 (94) to 9.15 (69).
The match, dubbed the ‘Healing for Hillcrest’ tribute match, will see all funds raised go directly to the Hillcrest Community Public Fund, which has been set up to provide ongoing care for the community affected by the tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School.
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Hawthorn were well accounted for by Collingwood in last week’s scratch match before the Pies rested the majority of their senior players and the Hawks fought back for a draw.
Richmond superstar Dustin Martin took part in his first competitive hitout since Round 17, 2021 last week as he continues his comeback from a lacerated kidney.
The match got underway at 1:10pm AEDT from Devonport Oval.
Richmond had some dangerous forward forays early, with the forward line of the Tigers of particular note for Nick Riewoldt.
“The three-headed monster – (Jack) Riewoldt, Lynch and Balta – if that can work, they can cause some big headaches for opposition defenders,” he said on Fox Footy.
Riewoldt got the Tigers’ first goal of the match with a great set shot from outside 50, after which he pointed to the sky, potentially as a tribute to the Hillcrest community.
The Tigers looked well and truly on top against their opponents as the quarter unfolded, getting plenty of inside 50s and looking slick.
A huge kick from Balta made it Richmond’s fourth goal of the day and was followed up very quickly by a walk-in goal for Jason Castagna as the Tigers went out to a 33-point lead.
Hawthorn skipper Ben McEvoy took matters into his own hands with his side’s first goal of the match, but it was a rare moment of respite against a red-hot Richmond outfit.
Balta in particular looked fantastic up forward, booting two goals for the term.
Mitch Lewis put through a goal after the quarter-time siren to salvage something from a nasty opening quarter for Sam Mitchell’s side.
A vintage passage from the Tigers saw the ball worked from end-to-end via handballs before a Riewoldt set shot on a tight angle went sailing through for a goal.
A couple of 50 metre penalties in the second quarter against Richmond once again underscored the crackdown from umpires in regards to their treatment and any time-wasting.
There were some impressive signs from Josh Gibcus, Richmond’s pick No.9 in last year’s draft in defence.
One of the rare moments of concern for the Tigers came when Dion Prestia came from the ground with his hand iced after a nasty collision with Hawthorn’s Tom Phillips.
Prestia returned to the ground later in the match.
A goal to Luke Breust late in the second quarter saw the half-time margin at 35 points.
Early in the third quarter, Ivan Soldo came off worse for wear after a ruck contest, but thankfully it appeared to be an ankle sprain rather than anything related to the knee injury that wiped out his 2021 campaign.
Soldo emerged from the rooms after having his ankle strapped and returned to the field in a great sign for the big man.
Chad Wingard showed some class to get Hawthorn its fifth goal of the match and the side did look to be holding its own a bit better in the third term compared to the previous two.
The fourth term was mostly both sides playing out time and looking to avoid injury.
Robbie Tarrant sent another scare through the Richmond camp when he limped away after a contest, but appeared to be OK after some assessment from medicos.
Hawthorn managed to get some junktime goals to reduce the final margin.
3) TIGERS ISSUE STATEMENT AHEAD OF SEASON-OPENER
It may’ve been against lowly opposition, but Richmond’s demolition job against Hawthorn on Saturday was an indication of just how well-placed the side is to rebound in 2022.
The Tigers’ performance last week in a practice match against Geelong was impressive, but their first-half performance against Hawthorn virtually sealed the match.
There may yet be a lot more list turnover at year’s end for the Tigers, but the veteran stars have still got at least one more premiership push in them.
Jack Riewoldt booted three goals while Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin had 26 disposals each, providing a strong core that the rest of the side fed off.
“The Tigers were super impressive,” Nick Riewoldt said post-game.
“When the game was there early they were slick, they moved the footy like the way we‘ve seen them move over the past few years.”
The Round 1 clash against Carlton can’t come soon enough.
2) BALTA’S NEW MOVE
Noah Balta‘s move from defence to forward has been highly-touted and, judging by Saturday’s performance, it’s set to add a whole lot to the side’s offence.
Still just 22 years of age, Balta‘s athleticism has been well documented and his performances in defence have been promising in the early stages of his career.
He may well have had to stay put down back after David Astbury‘s retirement at the end of last year, but the arrival of Robbie Tarrant as a free agent (along with the need to develop draftee Josh Gibcus) freed Balta up to attempt to make the switch.
Two classy goals in six minutes in the first quarter for Balta would‘ve given Damien Hardwick and the Tigers brainstrust plenty of joy.
He‘d add another major to the tally in the third term.
1) WARD SHOWS PROMISE AMID GRIM SCOREBOARD
As will often be the case in 2022, Hawthorn‘s on-field results will have to take a back seat and the focus will have to be put on the players of the future and their development.
On Saturday, Josh Ward was comfortably the best of them.
The club‘s pick No.7 was in fantastic shape for a Round 1 debut, with Ward a contested beast for much of the match.
“He‘s a really special player,” Hawks skipper Ben McEvoy said after the match.
Ward finished with 29 touches (19 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency and six score involvements.
B: Blake Hardwick, Sam Frost, Denver Grainger-Barras
HB: Conor Nash, James Sicily, Jack Scrimshaw
C: Liam Shiels, Chad Wingard, Harry Morrison
HF: James Worpel, Jack Gunston, Luke Breust
F: Dylan Moore, Mitch Lewis, Ben McEvoy
FOL: Ned Reeves, Jai Newcombe, Tom Phillips
I/C: Finn Maginness, Connor Macdonald, Jacob Koschitzke, Tyler Brockman, Ned Long, Josh Ward, Max Lynch, Emerson Jeka
EMG: Jackson Callow, Sam Butler, Seamus Mitchell, Jack Saunders
B: D.Grimes 2 R.Tarrant 6 J.Gibcus 28
HB: J.Short 15 N.Broad 35 D.Rioli 17
C: J.Ross 5 T.Cotchin 9 K.McIntosh 33
HF: S.Bolton 29 L.Baker 7, S.Edwards 10
F: N.Balta 21 T.Lynch 19 J.Riewoldt 8
FOLL: T.Nankervis 25 D.Prestia 3 D.Martin 4
I/C: H.Ralphsmith 45 I.Soldo 20 J.Aarts 16 J.Castagna 11 B.Nyuon 47 T.Brown 30 W.Martyn 36 M.Rioli 49
EMG: B.Miller 46 S.Ryan 32 M.Pickett 50 M.Parker 37
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