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Cats a familiar foe for Tigers, but with a twist

Rory slams Tex critics Nat Edwards with the latest news
The Tigers and the Cats will meet on Friday night for the fourth time in less than a year - AFL,Richmond Tigers,Damien Hardwick,Geelong Cats
The Tigers and the Cats will meet on Friday night for the fourth time in less than a year

ON FRIDAY night Richmond will face Geelong for the fourth time in less than a year, but it will be a Geelong with a slightly different game-plan than coach Damien Hardwick has faced before.

The Tigers and Cats met in round 21 last year (a 14-point win to Geelong), the qualifying final a few weeks later (a 51-point win to Richmond) and in round 13 this year (an 18-point win to Richmond).

"It's not often you run into this set of circumstances. We feel like we've run into them a lot over the last 12 months," Hardwick said.

"It was a really close game up until three-quarter time (last time they met), and they did some things which troubled us, so we'll go to work on a few of those things.

"They've probably changed a little bit in the way they've played, they're a bit more attacking now then they have been."

Richmond has played with one recognised ruckman in Toby Nankervis all year, which Collingwood exploited last week, dominating when Nankervis was off the ground.


Despite that, Hardwick said Richmond back-up ruckman Ivan Soldo would not play.

"We feel at this stage we'll just play with the one ruck. Ivan just keeps doing what he's doing, just keeps playing some good football. You look at last week, the second ruck hurt us a little bit last week, but Brodie Grundy's one of the best rucks in the competition.

"[Nankervis'] game time is about 80 to 83 per cent. We certainly get enough rest into him. Every AFL player at this stage of the year probably goes in peaks and troughs and Nank's no different. He's been in pretty good form."

Geelong key forward Tom Hawkins is in red-hot shape, kicking 14 goals in his past two matches, and David Astbury is a chance to take on the daunting task.

"He's in great form, isn't he? He's sort of that beacon down forward. Menzel's another guy who gets under a lot of sides' guards," Hardwick said.

"We'll probably have some players there we'll back-in, with Dave and Alex (Rance) will play around Tom depending on where he lines up, and Grimes will take the Menzel factor as well."

Dion Prestia will miss with a fractured rib, with hard-nut Anthony Miles, who trained with the squad of 26 on Thursday, a chance to play just his second game for the season.

"He's in the squad, once again we'll see how training goes and after that, but last week was his first game back from a week or two off (with a concussion suffered in the VFL).

"What we know we'll get from Milesy is a huge contest if he comes in and plays. It's certainly part of the equation for us, to figure out who that is, but we'll see how that pans out this afternoon."

Callum Moore was omitted last week, returned to the VFL and kicked five goals, but Hardwick confirmed Jacob Townsend, along with last week's debutant Liam Baker, would hold their spots.

Others to take train with the senior squad who did not play last week were key back Ryan Garthwaite, running defender Corey Ellis, winger Connor Menadue and first-year player Patrick Naish, who Hardwick suggested was unlikely to play.

The AFL will trial rule changes in a VFL match featuring Coburg and Werribee this weekend. Asked if he would be watching, Hardwick was fairly dismissive.

"No. Bit flat our VFL boys were scheduled for that TV game and they've put Coburg and the other side on there. I might mow the lawn," he said with a laugh.