IS THAT the sound of alarm bells ringing?
The frustration on Richmond faces couldn't have been more evident on Saturday, as the reigning premier's winless restart to the 2020 season continued at the hands of swarming St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.
SAINTS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
The impressive Saints were rampant, strangling the Tigers with their relentless pressure at every opportunity on their way to a convincing 15.3 (93) to 10.7 (67) victory.
The 26-point defeat leaves Richmond without a win since the season was abruptly interrupted in March, with its flag defence now hanging in the balance at a crucial juncture in the campaign.
Rubbing salt into the wound, it was an ex-Tiger doing the damage as 2017 premiership hero Dan Butler (13 disposals, three goals) tormented his former team to help the Saints break even on the season with their second win in three weeks.
Tim Membrey (13 disposals, three goals) and Jack Lonie (16 disposals, two goals) also grew into the game, as three successive St Kilda majors after half-time helped the Saints carve open a crucial 28-point buffer in a slick and highly entertaining clash under the roof.
Toby Nankervis (17 disposals, 26 hitouts) was perhaps Richmond's best in his return to the team and kicked a crucial goal on the three-quarter time buzzer to cut the deficit to just 15 points at the final change.
But St Kilda kept its composure when it mattered, with Brett Ratten's team producing a mature performance in the face of Richmond's late desperation to secure a thoroughly satisfying win.
Ex-Tiger gives the Saints silver service
Dan Butler was once a fan-favourite at Punt Road. However, at quarter-time on Saturday, Richmond fans might have been getting sick of the sight of him. Traded to the Saints for peanuts last October, the 2017 premiership Tiger has been a revelation for his new club so far this season and enjoyed perhaps his best term yet against his former side. Butler snapped St Kilda's first goal of the afternoon, then moments later steadied with a brilliant kick to set up Tim Membrey for another major in a quarter that yielded six disposals, three marks, three score involvements and 191m gained. Another in the second term, and a special goal from the boundary in the third quarter, was the icing on the cake.
Saints sort their tall order
On the surface, St Kilda's forward line looked just a tad too tall against Collingwood last week. It was noticeable for Brett Ratten, as well, who made the decision to withdraw Paddy Ryder before the first bounce for zippy small forward Dean Kent. It was therefore no surprise that the Saints looked far more mobile in attack, and far more dangerous as well. Dan Butler and Jack Lonie were perhaps the biggest threats on the ground throughout Saturday's encounter, while Tim Membrey shouldered the burden of being the main target in attack nicely. Jonathon Marsh, playing a negating role on Richmond's elite crop of interceptors, was also solid as St Kilda moved the ball smoothly heading forward. It culminated in an impressive 15-goal Saints performance.
The ruck role belongs to Nank again
Toby Nankervis could probably feel his spot slipping away. Having lost the No.1 ruck role to Ivan Soldo late last year, Nankervis was playing in his first game since the resumption of the season on Saturday. And he was one of few positives for Richmond. Up against one of the game's most promising young big men in Rowan Marshall, Nankervis was perhaps his side's most influential player. Dominant in the air, Nankervis finished with 17 disposals, 26 hitouts, seven tackles and five clearances for the afternoon. His strong mark and composed goal on three-quarter time also ensured the Tigers stayed alive in the contest heading into the final term.
ST KILDA 5.2 8.2 12.2 15.3 (93)
RICHMOND 4.1 6.3 9.5 10.7 (67)
St Kilda: Butler 3, Membrey 3, Lonie 2, Kent 2, Marshall 2, Battle, Hill, Marsh
Richmond: Lynch 2, Bolton 2, Edwards, Castagna, Riewoldt, Stack, Higgins, Nankervis
St Kilda: Butler, Steele, Membrey, Lonie, Billings, Long, Battle
Richmond: Nankervis, Higgins, Prestia, Edwards, Lynch
St Kilda: Ryder (soreness) replaced in selected side by Kent, Gresham (eye), Jones (hamstring)