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Was Bugg's hit on Riewoldt deliberate?

Full post-match: Saints Watch St Kilda's press conference after round one's match against GWS
If he intended to run into the back of someone who wasn't braced for the contact then it was poor
Alan Richardson

ALAN Richardson says only Tomas Bugg will know if his hit on Nick Riewoldt in the final quarter of Sunday's game was deliberate.

And if it was, the St Kilda coach said, it was "poor".

Riewoldt was taken to hospital in the fourth quarter of the Saints' nine-point loss to the Giants on Sunday at Etihad Stadium after being collected by Bugg in the forward pocket.

He was cleared of concussion before he left the ground, but there was concern over whether he had suffered whiplash to his neck.

The club later confirmed that scans had cleared Riewoldt of damage and he was clear to line up against Gold Coast on Saturday night. 

"I've had a bit of a look ... the player will know what his intention was," Richardson said.

"If he intended to run into the back of someone who wasn't braced for the contact then it was poor.

"But if it was just a collision and they stumbled across each other, then that's footy, I suppose.

"He'll know."

Giants coach Leon Cameron said he didn't see the incident, which resulted in immediate remonstration from the Saints and Josh Bruce singling out Bugg with a big hit.

 

Saints defender Jarryn Geary wasn't near the action when it happened, but said he expected his teammates to stand up for each other when something like that occurred. 

"There was a scuffle and once I knew [what Bugg did] it was a bit disappointing to see [Riewoldt] walk off the way he did," Geary told AFL.com.au.

"I'm not sure how much was in it, but you want to stand up for your teammates when you can if you think there was something a little bit untoward.

"That's the way it turned out … it was disappointing we gave away a free kick at that time because we had some momentum, but we'll continue to stick up for our teammates if we see fit."

Geary said it had been "touch and go" for Riewoldt even playing following the tragic death of his younger sister Madeleine in late February.

But he said the presence of the skipper, who took 10 marks and kicked one goal before going off in the last term, had given the Saints inspiration.

"He would have had a few things going through his head at different stages but he was always going to run himself into the ground and give himself the best opportunity," he said.

While a six-day turnaround won't work in Riewoldt's favour whatever the outcome of Sunday night's scans, Richardson remained upbeat about the skipper's chances of playing against Gold Coast.

"We'll wait and see, but the doctors are pretty positive," he said.

"At this stage, we're really, really confident - as confident as you can be when someone goes to hospital to get scans - that he'll be right to go this week."

 

 

"The good news is that Nick has been cleared of any serious damage and should be fine to play in round two," general manager of football performance Jamie Cox added.

Riewoldt's famous work rate was in evidence on Sunday as he sprinted up and down the ground and allowed Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce to take over as the deep forward targets.

While Riewoldt appeared limited with his kicking, Richardson said his fitness was fine.

"He's had a brilliant last week (on the track);, he was fantastic pre-game in terms of supporting his mates. He had a real focus on trying to be there for his mates if they made a blue or if they did something positive," he said.

"He didn't have a brilliant game, but he was still really strong in the way that he launched at the footy and gave us a contest as a tall.

"It was an incredible performance when you take everything into account."

Richardson confirmed Dylan Roberton wasn't injured despite being subbed out and that Leigh Montagna put in "a fair effort" to play with a sore knee to support Riewoldt.

Jack Billings could be in contention next week after getting through a VFL game on Saturday but Richardson indicated Paddy McCartin didn't show enough to warrant his AFL debut just yet.