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Morris shines but Bulldogs downed by Tigers

Alex Rance of the Tigers competes for the ball against Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs during the 2013 NAB Cup round 04 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Western Bulldogs at Visy Park, Melbourne. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Tiger Alex Rance competes for the ball against Bulldog Robert Murphy
BRILLIANT defensive jobs from Bulldogs Dale Morris and Nick Lower on Tiger stars Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin was not enough to prevent a nine-point Richmond win at Visy Park on Saturday.

The Tigers struggled to find their groove for much of the game, trailing at every break. But they lifted when it mattered most, booting two goals to nil in the final term to record a 14.8 (92) to 12.11 (83) victory.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said a solid hit-out was exactly what he and the club wanted ahead of the round one clash against Carlton.

"It was a contested game today and it was real scrap and it's the sort of thing you want going in to round one. You want a tough hard game going in to round one, and that's what we get from the Bulldogs today," Hardwick said.

Similarly, Bulldogs assistant coach Brett Montgomery said the club was fairly content with how its pre-season campaign had panned out.

"We got plenty out of today. We've got a style of game that we want to see regularly. Through this pre-season, take out one week, we've been pretty successful in being able to sustain (their game style)," Montgomery said.

"I think there's patches (when) we don't know how to hold a lead and capitalise on our momentum."

Despite the result, Bulldogs fans can be heartened by the club's performance.

Just 18 months after sustaining a broken leg, Morris put on a defensive clinic against Riewoldt. He held last year's Coleman Medal winner to two goals, and beat him countless times in one-on-one battles.

Meanwhile, Lower, who was recruited from Fremantle as a delisted free agent last year, completely blanketed the Tigers skipper.

Wintry conditions greeted the players at the old Princes Park. It was old-fashioned footy, played in a boutique stadium and with a suburban atmosphere. And it was certainly scrappy.
Before the rain set in, however, several patchy areas of turf of the ground were noticeable.
Both coaches said the surface was "not ideal" and were surprised the usually lush ground was not in perfect shape.

The Bulldogs looked like they had taken control of the match in the second term, booting four goals to Richmond's one to take a 21-point lead midway through the quarter.

They ran hard to create and worked back to help their teammates out.

Richmond, on the other hand, looked sluggish and didn't seem to find any flow in its game before back-to-back goals from Deledio and Martin brought the Tigers back to within seven points at half-time.

Daniel Giansiracusa smothers Richmond recruit Troy Chaplin. Picture: AFL Media

When given time and space, Deledio exhibited his class and polished ball use and looked like one of the few Tigers who could break the game ope. It was he who booted the decisive final quarter goal to give his team an unassailable lead.

Despite a promising game, young Bulldog Ayce Cordy may be looked at by the Match Review Panel after colliding heavily with young Tiger Nick Vlastuin in the first quarter.

Cordy appeared to leave the ground and collect the youngster above the shoulders.

Both teams importantly escaped unscathed, with no major injuries to report.

Montgomery said the club would get permission for Shaun Higgins to play in the VFL next week, while Easton Wood and Tom Williams will be touch and go for the Bulldogs' first up assignment against the Brisbane Lions in round one.

Hardwick was impressed by rookie recruits Ricky Petterd and Sam Lonergan, who are both chances to be elevated on to the club's senior list before the start of the season.

RICHMOND                        3.2    6.4    10.7    14.8 (92)
WESTERN BULLDOGS   3.5    7.5    10.8    12.11 (83)

Western Bulldogs:
Dahlhaus 2, Cordy, Cooney, Dickson, Griffen, Wallis, Giansiricusa, Murphy, Stevens, Johannisen,
Richmond: Maric 3, McGuane 2, Deledio 2, Riewoldt 2, Edwards 2, Martin, White

Western Bulldogs:
Morris, Lower, Murphy, Liberatore, Griffen, Cordy, Goodes, Roughead
Richmond: Deledio, Maric, Edwards, Houli, White, Conca, Vlastuin,

Western Bulldogs:
Richmond: Nil
Reports: Nil

Umpires: McBurney, TBC

Official crowd: 2,000 (est) at Visy Park, Carlton