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Tigers lose defender, flag hero earns reprieve

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PREMIERSHIP defender Dylan Grimes has been withdrawn from the Richmond side to face St Kilda on Saturday.

Grimes is out with a minor back issue and has been replaced in the selected side by Brandon Ellis, who has not been seen at AFL level since round five.

Coach Damien Harwick expects his premiership backline to bounce back strongly from the thrashing they received in last week's loss to West Coast.

The Tigers' back six uncharacteristically allowed a rampaging Eagles attack to do as they pleased in the top-of-the-table clash, conceding 19 marks inside their defensive 50.

Ahead of the clash with St Kilda at the MCG on Saturday, Hardwick was confident the performance was simply an aberration by Alex Rance and company.

MATCH PREVIEW Tigers v Saints

"They've been pretty good players for a long period of time for us, so we don't look at it as a trend, we look at it as a one-off," Hardwick said on Friday morning.

"I think they took seven contested marks for six goals, which is unlike our boys to be beaten in some of those contests.

"Those guys are a very proud bunch, and we're confident they'll bounce back and bounce back well.

"They're one of the best back six in the competition at the moment, so they're very good with their self-analysis and they'll get the job done for us this week, I have no doubt."

Hardwick also conceded superstar midfielder Dustin Martin needs to lift his defensive workrate after a fortnight well below his best.

The reigning Brownlow Medallist was shut down by North Melbourne tagger Ben Jacobs and largely ineffective during last week's loss to West Coast, but Hardwick expects an improved performance against struggling St Kilda on Saturday.

"I think defensively last week, he had eight pressure points which is below his level of expectation," Hardwick said.

"He's the first one to put up his hand. He said he didn't think that he did well enough.

"He'll tackle a lot better this week."

 

One of the causalities from the 47-point loss is premiership star Jacob Townsend, with the defensive forward sent back to the VFL after playing every game since round 21 last year.

Key forward Callum Moore takes his spot up forward, and Hardwick doesn't expect the Tigers to lose any of their trademark pressure around the ball by swapping a small for a tall.

Moore played two senior games in 2016 after being taken with pick No.12 in the 2015 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

"The guys have a level of expectation and how we want them to play, and Callum has met those expectations, so he comes in," Hardwick said.

"Callum is incredibly quick and one of the quickest players at our club, so once again we pick a dynamic forward line, and Mabiol Chol is the same, that's how we like out talls to play.

"Our one wood is our defensive pressure, so all those guys, regardless of their height, are expected to defend.

"Jacob has been a little bit below his best, and he's still a really important part of our make-up and we love what he brings, but Callum is just a little bit ahead of him with his performance."

Moore will line up next to Jack Riewoldt in attack, with Hardwick joking the two-time Coleman medallist might have been overplaying a bruised lung he received in the loss to the Eagles.

"A bit of carry on by Jack, seriously, a bit of blood?", Hardwick said.

"He's fine and a trooper that doesn't miss with much."

Hardwick was hopeful gun midfielder Dion Prestia would overcome a calf complaint in time for next week's Dreamtime clash with Essendon at the MCG.

Demon Angus Brayshaw joins the crew to discuss Jake Lever's grudge match against the Crows, and whether the Giants have bigger problems than injuries:

AFL Exchange podcast

Demon Angus Brayshaw joins the crew to discuss Jake Lever's grudge match against the Crows, and whether the Giants have bigger problems than injuries: