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Tiger Rioli takes huge step on road back

DANIEL Rioli has taken his first major step towards a returning to Richmond's senior team, emerging unscathed from a VFL hit-out after taking the field for the first time this year.

The 21-year-old hadn't played since badly breaking his left ankle in the last quarter of the Tigers' Grand Final triumph over Richmond.

It had been 232 days between games for Rioli and the setting was a far cry from the fever-pitched MCG he'd trod in his previous outing. 

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The supremely talented forward made his comeback on Saturday for Richmond's VFL side against Sandringham at Holm Park Recreation Reserve in Beaconsfield.

As had been planned, Rioli played the first half before putting his feet up for a well-earned rest as his team won by 65 points.

The Tigers are expected to increase Rioli's VFL game time next week ahead of a likely return at AFL level in coming weeks. 

Rioli, the No.15 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, has played 43 games and kicked 38 goals in his two seasons with the Tigers.

Last year he played all 25 games and tallied 25 goals as he became a key member of Richmond's speedy fleet of pressuring, goalkicking runners.

The VFL clash at Beaconsfield wasn't as kind to unlucky St Kilda speedster Nathan Freeman, who suffered a shoulder injury while playing for Sandringham.