Richmond turned in a vintage performance on Saturday night, winding the clock back to their 2017 best, to beat the beleaguered Swans by 22-points at Marvel Stadium.
Missing stalwarts Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance and Shaun Grigg, along with exciting forward Jayden Short, the Tigers returned to what made them a force in their premiership year.
Richmond made forcing turnovers an art-form, harassing their opponents, choking them into submission, and transforming into an unexpected juggernaut.
They lost their way in the opening parts of the 2019 season, but their manic effort returned on Saturday night, forcing the Swans to cough it up in all parts of the field.
Swans champion and former Premiership player Jude Bolton was scathing of the Swans' performance on the Triple M broadcast.
Despite opening up a 37-point lead, they never quite landed the killer blow, with the Swans holding grim, narrowing the margin to 22-points before the final siren.
The undermanned Tigers have won two games in a row, after back-to-back losses against Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney, the latest by 13.11 (89) to 10.7 (67) scoreline.
There are more than a few similarities between the Premiership winning side, and the side that beat the Swans.
Dan Butler, Jason Castagna, Jack Graham and Jacob Townsend, even Nathan Broad, we met, some became unsung heroes, while others were worshipped for their deeds.
Perhaps that’s why Damien Hardwick and Richmond weren’t worried when they travelled to Port Adelaide last week without their injured premiership stars, along with Dustin Martin and Bachar Houli.
A largely no-named side, led by new recruit Tom Lynch, returned from South Australia with the four points and a confidence boosting win, while the Swans suffered the enmity of a 44-point turnaround.
The win – their second in a row – was setup largely before half-time, with all bar one behind of their 9.5 score coming from Swans’ turnovers.
It wasn’t until Noah Balta snapped over his shoulder from a centre clearance, that the Tigers scored their first goal – their only one – from a source other than a turnover.
Damien Hardwick was adamant that the AFL was still a turnover game, despite the rule changes and the introduction of the 6-6-6 system.
Richmond’s enormous front-half pressure, laying 22-to-2 tackles inside 50 was telling, choking the Swans into submission.
When the Swans somehow exited their defensive 50, Richmond’s effort to get back and make a contest was telling.
Somehow, they always outnumbered the Swans, regularly winning the 50-50 and 1-on-2 contests, or at least doing enough to force the Swans to cough it up.
Swans defender Jake Lloyd signalled the theme of the night, turning the ball over inside 50 to gift Daniel Rioli Richmond’s first goal of the match.
In a night where Lance Franklin moved past Essendon great Matthew Lloyd into outright 7th on AFL/VFL goalkicking list, he looked ominous early on, kicking the Swans’ first goal of the match.
A goal by captain Luke Parker (31 disposals, 15 contested) four minutes later gave the Swans the lead, before Brandon Ellis put the Tigers back in front, never relinquishing the lead.
Sydney continued to fight and worked hard to keep the ball off the Tigers, but as soon the ball hit the ground, the Tigers had the extra number.
Jack Ross, who couldn’t even get a for Vic Metro last year, won 8 of his 17 disposals in the first quarter.
Sydney Stack, who was looked over in both of the pre-season drafts, shone with toughness and his kicking inside 50, finishing with 7 score involvements.
The Tigers’ signalled their intent early in the second quarter, through quick goals to Dustin Martin and Kane Lambert.
Josh Kennedy’s goal on the run was the Swans’ sole goal of the quarter, as the Tigers ran rampant in the last 10 minutes.
Goals to Liam Baker, Noah Balta, Dustin Martin and Josh Caddy after the siren turned 13-point lead into a game-winning 33-point half-time lead.
Two goals from Lance Franklin gave the Swans hope, before Josh Caddy booted his second and Dustin Martin his third, undoing all of the Swans’ hard work.
Facing a 37-point lead at the final change, Sydney’s 4-goals-to-2 last quarter added respectability to the score line, with Franklin booting his fourth of the night.
It was little consolation for a team struggling to score, managing another paltry 4-goals in the first half, while the Tigers booted 6.2 in the second quarter.
Youngster Oliver Florent (31 disposals, 19 pressure acts, 547 metres gained) was a positive force the Swans, with Jordan Dawson (31 disposals, 11 marks) providing an influential outlet kick in just his ninth game of AFL Football.
Reigning Bob Skilton Medalist Jake Lloyd had a game to forget, with 9 of his 37 disposals leading to turnovers, while Parker had 9 from his 21 at half-time.
Midfield Zak Jones tried his best all night, but had no idea the heat was coming throughout the night, while Dane Rampe (22 disposals, 8 intercept possessions, 13 one percenters) was impressive in defence, keeping Tom Lynch goalless.
The Swans return to their SCG to take on the Greater Western Sydney Giants, who may be without Phil Davis. It's little consolation, as the Swans are facing their worst home-ground run since 2000, winning just one of the last seven games.
SYDNEY 2.1 4.2 6.3 10.7 (67)
RICHMOND 3.3 9.5 11.9 13.11 (89)
SYDNEY: Franklin (4), Heeney (2), Papley, Kennedy, Parker, Reid
RICHMOND: Martin (3), Caddy (2), Lambert (2), Balta (2), Rioli, Ellis, Baker, Castagna
SYDNEY: Florent, Dawson, Rampe, Papley, Parker
RICHMOND: Martin, Edwards, Prestia, Stack, Vlastuin, Higgins
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