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Forgotten Tiger puts hand up for GF call-up

Sam Lloyd celebrates a goal against Port Melbourne in Sunday's VFL Grand Final - AFL,VFL,Richmond Tigers,Sam Lloyd
Sam Lloyd celebrates a goal against Port Melbourne in Sunday's VFL Grand Final

FORGOTTEN Richmond forward Sam Lloyd is adamant he could contribute if he receives a shock call-up to the AFL side for the Grand Final, after winning the Norm Goss Medal for best afield in the VFL decider at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. 

Playing through the midfield in front of a 17,159-strong crowd, Lloyd racked up 35 disposals, 10 clearances and nine tackles. 

His huge last term showed he could deliver under pressure, slotting a crucial goal, and setting up a couple of others – one with a spoil from a Port Melbourne kick-in and another by delivering the ball lace out for key forward Ben Griffiths.

The match itself was an amazing contest, with Port down by 13 points with just minutes remaining but eventually clawing back into the lead. The final siren went with the ball in Ben Lennon's hands and Richmond down by five points, but his shot from inside the centre square sailed wide, in what may be the out-of-contract former No.12 selection's last kick in the yellow and black.

Port Melbourne won the enthralling contest, 11.8 (74) to 10.10 (70).

Port players celebrate as a downcast Ben Lennon rues his miss. Picture: AFL Photos

A downcast Lloyd told reporters after the game his running had improved, allowing him to play as an onballer.

"My fitness levels have really improved the last couple of years and I've pinch-hit at times through there and if I got the opportunity, I'm sure I could do something in there," Lloyd said. 

While the senior side is unlikely to make unforced changes after two comprehensive finals victories, the availability of Brandon Ellis and Trent Cotchin is uncertain, with both set to be scrutinised by the Match Review Panel

Five questions for the MRP on Cotchin

Ellis collected Greater Western Sydney midfielder Lachie Whitfield high in the last term while a hit from the captain on Dylan Shiel, that left the Giant with delayed concussion, will also be looked at.

"I've been pushing my hand up to get into the midfield in the AFL for a couple of years now but we've just got too many mids," Lloyd said.

Others to impress were Anthony Miles (24 disposals and seven clearances) and Corey Ellis (23 disposals), while Griffiths booted three goals and offered an aerial presence.

Electric small forward Shai Bolton started the game on fire with a couple of early goals and a goal assist, but he faded out of the contest.

Typically stationed in attack in the senior side, coach Damien Hardwick wanted Lloyd to develop his midfield skills in the VFL team, with an abundance of forwards at reserves level another reason the 27-year-old has been pushed up the ground.

"I would've thought he's been one of our better performed for the last month. He continued that," VFL coach Craig McRae said.

Lloyd finished with 50 disposals and four goals against Sandringham about a month ago. 

He had a sore right thumb after the clash with Port Melbourne but said he would be fine for next Saturday's game at the MCG, in what would be his ninth AFL match of the season, and his first since the round 16 thumping at the hands of St Kilda. 

It looms as a big few days for Lloyd, who will accompany Dustin Martin to the Brownlow Medal on Monday night.

PORT MELBOURNE   2.2   3.5   6.6   11.8 (74)
RICHMOND             3.3   3.6   6.8   10.10 (70)

Port Melbourne: Conway 3, Cain 2, Pinwill, Pearson, Anastasio, Wooffindin, Sandilands, Templeton
Richmond: Griffiths 3, Bolton 2, Menadue 2, Lennon, Lloyd, Mannagh