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'Hard, desperate' Tigers keep the lid on

Chris Newman says the Tigers are building consistency - ${keywords}
Chris Newman says the Tigers are building consistency
Eighteen months ago, we would have perhaps crumbled in the final quarter when they kicked those first two goals
Jack Riewoldt
ONLY at Richmond can the 41-point win over West Coast in Perth a fortnight ago, arguably the club's finest win in a decade, spark as much anxiety as it did euphoria.

The problem was, the Tigers had their bye immediately afterwards, which in seasons past could have led to day after day of basking in the glory. 

But these aren’t the Tigers of old, where with one big win, the lid gets blown completely off and the club loses focus. The Richmond of round 11, 2013, in its next game after the big win in Perth, mucked in early, jumped to a three-goal quarter-time lead against Adelaide and held on when challenged early in the final term.

"The most pleasing thing is that we were challenged late when sometimes teams can get a run on," said Tigers veteran Chris Newman after the 38-point win over the Crows on Saturday that elevated the Tigers back into the eight.

Newman was referring to the start of the last quarter when the Crows kicked two quick goals to get back within 19 points. 

"We showed some resilience and got ourselves back into a winning position," he said.

The Tigers have developed the steel that comes with having a settled side that has now played together for the best part of three years. Spearhead Jack Riewoldt noted afterwards that the side regarded Adelaide's bright start to the final quarter as an opportunity rather than a threat.

"The big thing we take out of today is that we kicked the crucial goals when they got a couple in a row. Our ability to answer and get the two or three goals back and steady the ship was really important," he said.

"Eighteen months ago, we would have perhaps crumbled in the final quarter when they kicked those first two goals."

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick had few concerns about how his team would handle the bye. That was until he saw Hawthorn, also coming off the bye, stumble and fumble its way through the first half against Carlton at Etihad.

"It threw a bit of a concern my way, but I was really pleased with how the boys trained; we had a really solid Tuesday and a high intensity Thursday. The fitness staff did a great job of getting the boys up," he said.

Hardwick was asked whether his team had evolved and said the Tigers are now more even, more dispassionate and certainly more clinical.

"We don't ride the emotional rollercoaster, so to speak. They do things to a higher level of consistency and when you look at the good sides such as Geelong, Sydney and Hawthorn, they just don't make a lot of errors," he said.

"We go through stages where we do that and we still need to improve, but the one thing our side is starting to do is become more consistent over four quarters, which is a side of a side maturing."

Another sign of the maturation at Richmond is that the ladder position, as it stands right now, is creating barely a flicker of excitement within the club. The Tigers are in sixth place with half the season gone. 

"It's exciting to play good football and to put in a good performance each week," Newman said. "We want to be known for being hard and desperate."

The next fortnight will be interesting for the Tigers. They meet the Western Bulldogs and then St Kilda. Eight premiership points and further consolidation within the top eight surely beckons, although Hardwick was keen to warn of the perils of the club taking its foot off the accelerator. 

"You'll get your backside kicked," he warned, mindful of what has happened at Richmond in the past, but at the same time, increasingly confident that this sort of thing is in the past. 

Ashley Browne is an AFL Media senior writer. @afl_hashbrowne