A MOUTHWATERING first-half by star forward Jack Riewoldt and four-goal cameo from Shane Edwards has inspired Richmond to a dominant 71-point win over Hawthorn in their second round NAB Challenge clash at Beaconsfield on Saturday.
The Tigers promised to ramp up their pre-season preparations after bringing back a galaxy of stars – including skipper Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Alex Rance – following a 10-goal loss to Fremantle last week and they didn't disappoint.
Riewoldt (one supergoal, one goal) was at his imperious best early with Edwards elusive at his feet, while Martin, Brandon Ellis and ball-magnet Anthony Miles helped drive the 1.15.5 (104) to 0.4.9 (33) triumph.
The opening stages belonged to Riewoldt, with the superstar forward showing he's busting to play football again by giving Kaiden Brand and James Frawley the run around at Holm Park Recreation Reserve.
"It was hard to hold him back last week, he wanted to play then, but he always wants to play, he's just a competitive animal," Tigers assistant coach Brendon Lade said of Riewoldt.
"So his first quarter probably set us up today and he was pretty good up the ground, definitely."
Riewoldt took six marks – including two big pack grabs – in the opening stanza alone to lead Richmond to a hard-fought five-point lead into the swirly breeze.
The gun forward then slotted the game's only supergoal from inside the centre square in the second term as his side wrested control, booting 14 of the next 17 goals after the first break.
Richmond dominated possessions after a relatively even opening, racking up 356 touches to 265 for the match.
Encouragingly for the Tigers, who were missing big men Ty Vickery after his disturbing concussion incident, they had multiple options in attack with Edwards, Ben Lennon and aerial threat Connor Menadue all booting multiple goals.
At the other end, Hawthorn struggled to find a focal point and repeatedly broke down across half-forward.
Tim O'Brien (nine disposals, one goal) presented strongly and James Sicily (10 disposals, one goal) worked his way into the game as the pair pushed their claims to replace Jarryd Roughead in the round one side on Easter Monday.
"We got a little bit out of some of our young players, which was really positive," Hawks stand-in coach Brett Ratten said.
"I thought Tim O'Brien's efforts, whether he was marking the ball or competing … I thought it was a big step up for him."
Without some of their biggest names – Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Luke Breust, Roughead (knee) and Jack Gunston (shin) were all watching on – the Hawks had too few contributors.
However, Josh Gibson (14 possessions) was his reliable self in defence, captain for the day Liam Shiels worked hard and Brad Hill looked in top nick.
The final term was soured for the Hawks when recruit Jack Fitzpatrick was helped from after appearing to hyperextend his knee, with Brett Ratten telling reporters the big man would be assessed later on Saturday.
Ratten also hosed down fears around Cyril Rioli after he copped a knock to his calf and was seen his tracksuit in the changerooms as the final siren sounded.
"Cyril was down for a half, so he ticks that off, which is good," Ratten said. "He was due to come off with the rotations … so perfect."
WHAT WE LEARNED:
Richmond: The Tigers have options in attack, with some of their youngsters showing promising signs against the Hawks. Connor Menadue booted a pair of nice set shots in the swirly conditions, while Ben Lennon worked his way into the game nicely with two majors in as many minutes in the third term. Jack Riewoldt showed great signs, but Shaun Edwards' canny four-goal haul was equally impressive.
Hawthorn: The race to replace Jarryd Roughead is yet to be decided, with Tim O'Brien and James Sicily both showing enough to keep themselves in the hunt. After limited impact against Carlton, O'Brien impressed with his workrate leading at the ball and jumped high into marking contests, while Sicily's mobility combined with aerial threat makes him probably the closest thing the Hawks have to Roughead. Jack Fitzpatrick's late knee injury is a concern after an impressive summer.
Richmond: Daniel Rioli was slippery when in possession and looks like he has a bag of tricks, despite often being under pressure. Mabior Chol didn't have much of it, but presented strongly at centre half-forward and had the crowd on his feet when he raced towards goal but hit the post on his left foot. Andrew Moore hit the scoreboard and Jacob Townsend also lent strong midfield support to the Tigers' stars, while Oleg Markov was quiet after coming on in the second half.
Hawthorn: The club's third pick in last year's draft, Blake Hardwick (one goal), earned the applause of teammates with his second touch as a Hawk, crashing through two tackles to feed out a handball. Nuggety onballer Kieran Lovell came on after half-time and almost joined the less prestigious second-kick, first goal club until his shot hit the post. Jack Fitzpatrick didn't hurt his round one chances by giving a contest in the ruck and crashing packs up forward, where he spent time on star defender Alex Rance.
NEXT UP: Two down, one to go for both clubs. The Tigers host Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on March 10, two weeks before their season-opener against Carlton, while the Hawks take on North Melbourne at the same venue two days later.
RICHMOND 0.2.1 1.5.3 1.8.4 1.15.5 (104)
HAWTHORN 0.1.2 0.2.3 0.2.6 0.4.9 (33)
Richmond: Edwards 4, Lennon 3, Menadue 2, Cotchin 2, Riewoldt, Moore, Lambert, Rioli
Hawthorn: O'Rourke, Sicily, O'Brien, Hardwick
Richmond: Riewoldt, Edwards, Martin, Ellis, Miles, Rance, Houli, Cotchin
Hawthorn: Gibson, Hill, Shiels, Whitecross, Burgoyne
Hawthorn: Fitzpatrick (knee), Rioli (calf)
Umpires: Deboy, Kamolins, Edwards, Findlay
Official crowd: 6,384 at Holm Park Recreation Reserve