Richmond’s premiership defence is hanging by a thread after a shock 10-point loss to the Gold Coast on Thursday night in Melbourne.
The Tigers were simply out-muscled and outfought when it mattered and held their nerve deep in the fourth quarter to win 10.17 (77) to 10.7 (67).
The win has been described as “one of the great wins of the ages” by Fox Footy’s Eddie Maguire, while Channel 7 footy reporter Mark Stevens called it the biggest win in the history of the Suns.
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It was also the Tigers’ worse loss of the year — coming off their spanking at the hands of St Kilda last week.
Not even the huge leg-up of having the game switched from Metricon Stadium to Marvel Stadium could save Richmond.
The embarrassing 10-point defeat to Gold Coast could have even been worse had the Suns not missed a host of straightforward shots on goal.
The Suns were coming off a crushing defeat to North Melbourne last week, and they showed the hunger expected of a team coming off a bad loss. The Tigers showed none of it.
The Suns were too strong for the Tigers.Source:Getty Images
Footy commentators have even declared the result could be the moment when the Tigers’ premiership dynasty crumbled.
Fox Footy’s David King described the midfield battle as a “smashing” and a “deadset clubbing” after the Suns finished with 24 more contested possessions, nine more clearances and 28 more tackles.
It showed at half time when the cameras captured the seething expression on coach Damien Hardwick’s face after he watched Ben Ainsworth kick a last-minute goal before the half time break.
Hardwick took his mask off inside the coach’s box and gritted his teeth.
Channel 7’s Jason Evans described Hardwick’s demeanour: “Damien Hardwick shakes his head in disgust and frustration”.
Whatever he said at half time, it couldn’t revive his players.
The Tigers were held to just 2.10 (22), their lowest score in 60 years when they were upset by St Kilda last week.
Damien Hardwick during the week conceded his team’s 2021 premiership defence looks different to previous years.
In their last three premiership years, the Tigers have come back from slow starts to the year to salute on the final day, but Hardwick says the difference this year is that they are suffering more “catastrophic” injuries than in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
“We just can’t seem to get that connection (when players are) coming back into the side – we get players back, we lose players going out,” Hardwick said.
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