RICHMOND has overcome the loss of several key players to beat Greater Western Sydney by 36 points in the first MCG clash between the clubs since the Tigers' 2019 AFL premiership.
Half-backs Jayden Short and Nathan Broad were prominent and former captain Trent Cotchin also starred as the Tigers led for most of the game to win 16.13 (109) to 10.13 (73).
TIGERS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
Phil Davis (hamstring) and Daniel Lloyd (shoulder) were also hurt as the Giants fell to a 0-2 start to the season, while Richmond rebounded from last week's loss to Carlton.
Noah Balta kicked four goals for the Tigers, while GWS onballer Callan Ward had 28 disposals in his 250th game and teammate Tom Green had a game-high 34 possessions.
The last time these two teams played at the MCG, Richmond restricted GWS to three goals and mauled them by 89 points for the 2019 flag.
Some of the most important players from the 2017-20 premiership three-peat were missing on Sunday - Dustin Martin is taking time off for personal reasons, while fellow frontliners Dion Prestia, co-captain Dylan Grimes and Jack Riewoldt are all injured.
But the Tigers played with much more system and poise than the Giants.
Despite ideal conditions, the teams managed only one goal apiece in a scrappy opening where field umpire Ray Chamberlain also struggled.
Chamberlain was ill on the field, but ran out the game.
Late in the first term, Lloyd and teammate Jake Riccardi collided on the wing and Lloyd was taken to hospital for X-rays on his shoulder.
After the Giants kicked the first goal of the second term to take the lead, the Tigers broke the game open.
Richmond speedster Shai Bolton sparked the surge with two goals and they kicked another two to lead by 20 points.
As GWS fought back, veteran key defender Phil Davis dived to chase down Noah Balta as he ran into goal, the veteran defender ripping his left hamstring in the process and handing Balta a free kick for a trip.
Davis immediately put his hand up as he lay on the ground, well aware he had suffered a serious injury.
GWS were still in with a chance when Josh Kelly kicked his third goal and reduced the margin to 20 points in the last term.
But a three-goal run sealed the win for the Tigers.
Davis' hammies can't outrun Father Time
From 2016 to 2019 the Giants finished top six each year, reaching three preliminary finals and one Grand Final. Not coincidentally full-back Phil Davis played 21 or more matches in each of those seasons. He's managed a total of 21 over the past two years with injuries to his aging legs restricting his availability. Unfortunately it looks like GWS could be without their defensive general again, at least for a few weeks after what looked like a nasty hamstring injury ended his game in the second quarter. It might not quite be a case of 'no Phil, no finals', but after watching his shut-down job on Lance Franklin last week there's no doubt the Giants will miss his ability to negate the game's best.
Put this one in the Nank-bank
If you want a ruckman to make his presence felt in a physical contest you call for Toby Nankervis. If you want a big man to drop in a hole to cut off opposition scoring thrusts you call for Toby Nankervis. If you want a dexterous and creative forward to put their hand up for Goal of the Year you don't call for Toby Nankervis. Or maybe you do. 'Nank the Tank' kicked one out of somebody else's box on Saturday, winning a boundary throw in close to goal, tapping it again out of opposition hands, then throwing his leg at the ball mid-air only to see it sail through from the angle. It may not win the car, but it should at least deliver a big-screen TV!
Who wants to be king?
The respective games of Stephen Coniglio and Trent Cotchin on Sunday showed the difference a little less responsibility can make on an individual's input. Coniglio's numbers suffered across the board after being handed the sole captaincy role at GWS in 2020, but his two games this year have seen him return to his best after Josh Kelly and Toby Greene were promoted to share the top job. And three-time premiership skipper Cotchin handed over the leadership in an effort to find top form in his late career, something he seems to have done over the opening fortnight. Comic genius Mel Brooks once said "It's great to be king", but sometimes a crown can be a bit too heavy on the head.
RICHMOND 1.5 7.7 11.9 16.13 (109)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.2 4.5 7.9 10.13 (73)
Richmond: Balta 4, Lynch 3, Bolton 2, Soldo 2, Baker, Castagna, Edwards, Nankervis, Ralphsmith
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio 2, Himmelberg 2, Taranto 2, Kelly 2, Brander, Bruhn
Richmond: Short, Cotchin, Pickett, Nankervis, Balta, Rioli, Broad
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Coniglio, Taranto, Green, Perryman
Richmond: Dow (TBC)
Greater Western Sydney: Lloyd (shoulder), Davis (hamstring)
Richmond: Jake Aarts, replaced Thomson Dow in the fourth quarter
Greater Western Sydney: Matt de Boer, replaced Daniel Lloyd in the second quarter.