Richmond’s players might have lacked some trademark intensity in their three-point win over Geelong, but Damien Hardwick will not rest key players ahead of the AFL finals series.
The Tigers looked to have the game in their keeping at various stages at the MCG on Friday night in front of 67,000 fans, but had to survive a huge scare when Gary Ablett Jr missed a flying shot on goal with less than two minutes left, to record their 19th win in a row at the ground – 12.13 (85) to 12.10 (82).
The reigning premiers sit comfortably atop the AFL ladder with three rounds to go until finals, but Hardwick doesn’t want to flirt with their form.
“Players go up and down at various stages and we probably had a lot of guys who were a little bit jaded,” Hardwick said after the thriller.
“(But) we play our best side every week … if those guys are available to play, they play. ”
“If there’s (a doubt) like Nathan Broad for example he won’t play, but we don’t play games, we call it as we see it. ”
The Cats were bold with their ball movement through the central corridor and reaped the rewards at times.
But the loss leaves the Cats in a scrap to make the eight, but if they do get there, coach Chris Scott wants another crack at Richmond.
“We’re disappointed but we’re not discouraged with the performance,” Scott said.
“We had our chances to win … I thought we had the better of the game for big parts of it. ”
“So I don’t think that anyone from our footy club should be walking away thinking that we need to change things drastically to beat them. ”
“They’re the best side in it at the moment but they need a lot to go right for them to win it … no question. ”… If we’re good enough over the next six or seven weeks and we get another chance to play them – hopefully we do – we’ll give ourselves a really good chance,” Scott said.
The Tigers were still able to pressure Geelong into some costly turnovers, but Hardwick admitted Geelong’s brave approach unsettled his side on occasion.
“They showed some things that caught us – I wouldn’t say off-guard – but they had some things work for them that allowed them to score some goals,” Hardwick said.
“They were pretty aggressive with their ball movement through the middle of the ground. ”
“Once again we got a good look at it and they got some goals as a result of that. It was a different challenge and one I’m glad we came through in the end.”
“… It’s always good to win a game and have some learnings come from it.”