A virtual elimination final awaits Richmond at ANZ Stadium on Saturday against Sydney, with coach Damien Hardwick saying the Tigers would dare to be bold.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has pledged to leave nothing in the tank as his side chases the most unlikely of finals appearances against Sydney next Saturday.
After Richmond’s 26-point win over St Kilda, Hardwick finds his side in the eight for the first time all season.
The Tigers’ much-discussed winning streak started with a win over the Saints and their eighth victory on the trot also came against Alan Richardson’s side on Sunday night.
Now he must lead his side against the last team to beat the Tigers.
In round 14, the Tigers came out of the blocks well against the Swans, but were reeled in on a slippery MCG to lose by 11 points.
“They did what Sydney do, they grind it out and managed to get over the line,” Hardwick said.
“It could have gone either way right down to the end… it’s going to be a great challenge.
“This is a finals game this week, most people will say it starts the week after but for us it’s as good as.”
Hardwick said “you’ve got to dare to be bold” and offered to back his players at full confidence.
“We’ll continue to play that way – sometimes it will come off, sometimes it won’t – but that’s when we play our best footy.”
Hardwick’s mind is already in Sydney, accidentally throwing in a reference to the Swans when he meant to say St Kilda, and it’s clear his players are thinking about it too.
Jake Batchelor had more touches (22) than he’s had for two seasons against St Kilda and said he was raring for the fight.
“What better way to get into the finals than by beating the best team,” he said.
“We’d rather do it off our own bat then wait to see what other sides do, it’s a big, big game.”
Beaten coach Richardson backed the Tigers to win a final if they made the eight.
“I think they’re a chance to really do some damage if they get there… they’ve got as good a midfield as any other group going around,” he said.
With no added injury concerns from Sunday’s match, Hardwick has the luxury of keeping a settled side or bringing in fresh faces.
Dustin Martin is a certainty to return after being rested with hamstring tightness, while Ty Vickery’s suspension for punching Dean Cox will expire.
Hardwick said a key question would be whether to retain Ben Griffiths with Vickery, alongside six-goal star Jack Riewoldt, or play all three.
“(Vickery has) been training the house down, we’ve got to see whether we can fit all three in because they’re a big side Sydney,” he said.
Daniel Jackson will also be considered after two weeks in the VFL
Chris Newman will be fit to play, handed the substitute vest in the third term to keep him fresh.
The one concern could be Nathan Gordon who looked to have caught Cameron Shenton high with a bump in the third term.
RICHMOND’S ROAR: THE EIGHT WINS THAT HAVE THE TIGERS EIGHTH
R15 – St Kilda by 44 points at Etihad
R16 – Brisbane by 25 points at MCG
R17 – Port Adelaide by 20 at Etihad
R18 – West Coast by 17 at Patersons
R19 – GWS Giants by 27 at MCG
R20 – Essendon at 18 at MCG
R21 – Adelaide by 10 at Adelaide Oval
R22 – St Kilda by 26 at MCG