‘The old boy’s still got it’: Cotchin kicks three as Tigers upset Cats

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Damien Hardwick tried to tell us.

Richmond’s three-time premiership coach did not blink during his Tigers’ tardy start to this year – including having just one win in the first seven rounds – telling anyone who would listen that their “best is good enough”.

Dustin Martin kicked four goals in Richmond’s win.Credit: AFL Photos

Critics spared no one, from Hardwick to the club’s group of 30-somethings and even list boss Blair Hartley, who engineered Richmond’s recruitment last year of ex-Giants Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper.

But the Tigers have scored back-to-back victories in the past fortnight, the latest snapping reigning premiers Geelong’s five-match winning streak in a shock 24-point result at the MCG on Friday night.

They are now just a game outside the top eight, albeit with the rest of round nine still to be played.

It was the ideal way to celebrate star midfielder Dion Prestia’s 200th game, especially after Tom Stewart ended his night early in the corresponding clash last year.

Trent Cotchin celebrates a goal.Credit: Getty Images

Daniel Rioli was one of the fire-starters with his dash out of defence, while 2020 club champion Jayden Short was good again – and Noah Balta, despite some typically quirky choices across the night, dramatically reversed his fortunes after conceding two early goals to Tom Hawkins.

Nathan Broad also got the better of his match-up with Coleman Medal contender Jeremy Cameron, who won most of his touches further afield, with the Richmond defender proving an intercepting menace at the same time.

Taranto and Liam Baker added to their impressive years as well, and are probably one-two in the club’s best and fairest count to date.

Geelong were missing premiership players Patrick Dangerfield, Cam Guthrie, Tyson Stengle, Sam De Koning, Brad Close, Jack Henry and Gary Rohan, but were still heavily favoured to continue their charge since beginning the season 0-3.

The Tigers made an inspired start, with former captain Trent Cotchin kicking the last two goals of their six in an opening quarter that set the platform for a boilover. They did so with frenetic ball movement designed to interrupt the Cats’ want to play at a steadier pace.

Order seemed to be restored in general play early in the second term, only for Geelong to fritter away a series of chances that ended up coming back to haunt them.

The Cats went to half-time trailing by 10 points despite dominating clearances (25-9) and marks inside 50 (11-4), and being well on top in contested possession (74-62).

Any thoughts of Geelong running over the top of Richmond quickly came unstuck, with quick goals to Shai Bolton and Jack Riewoldt blowing the margin out to 22 points as the upset suddenly became a serious possibility.

Dustin Martin and Riewoldt – who was otherwise subdued – then landed major blows inside the first seven minutes of the final term, kicking the Tigers four, then five goals clear to effectively seal the deal.

Boos are back

Don’t expect Lance Franklin-like commentary to follow Richmond fans’ predictable booing of Geelong defender Stewart, even though Prestia urged them not to boo.

The Tigers faithful jeered the star Cat from his first touch – even if they dulled a tad by half-time, after a vigorous opening – not forgetting the ugly bump he delivered on Prestia in the clubs’ round 15 clash last year.

Tom Stewart was heavily booed by Tiger fans.Credit: AFL Photos

Prestia took no further part in that match, while a remorseful Stewart sat out the next four games due to suspension.

Collingwood apologised, and the AFL made a strong statement, after Magpies supporters mercilessly booed Franklin last Sunday, but it was far more understandable why the yellow-and-black army gave it to Stewart.

Life in the old Tiger

Richmond great Cotchin is nearing the end of a brilliant AFL career, and played his 295th match on Friday night against Geelong.

The 33-year-old triple-premiership captain is as good as certain to retire at season’s end and has noticeably slowed down this year, including being picked as the substitute in round four and being managed last week.

But Cotchin returned to the Tigers’ senior side with a bang, kicking two of his team’s six opening-quarter goals – the first after outpointing Mark O’Connor in an aerial contest, then the second a toe-poke from close range.

He wasn’t done either, dancing onto his left foot to snap truly into time-on in the third term to push Richmond’s lead out to 24 points, a margin that was never seriously threatened.

“The old boy’s still got it,” teammate Martin, who kicked four goals, told Channel Seven after the match.

RICHMOND 6.0 8.3 11.5 16.6 (102)
GEELONG 2.7 5.11 7.11 11.12 (78)

GOALS Richmond: Martin 4, Cotchin 3, Mansell 2, Riewoldt 2, Graham, D. Rioli, Prestia, Bolton, Clarke. Geelong: Hawkins 3, O. Henry 2, Smith, Simpson, Duncan, Cameron, Bruhn, Blicavs.

BEST Richmond: Broad, Short, Balta, D. Rioli, Taranto, Martin, Baker, Bolton. Geelong: Atkins, Stewart, Miers, Duncan, Ratugolea, Blicavs.

INJURIES Richmond: Hopper (calf). Geelong: None.

UMPIRES Rosebury, Howorth, Gianfagna, Rodger.

CROWD 58,141 at the MCG

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