RICHMOND'S agonising opening NAB AFLW season has continued, becoming the first ever side to fail to kick a goal in its 39-point loss to St Kilda.
The Saints were too strong all over the park, coping well in a howling wind at RSEA Park in the 6.6. (42) to 0.3 (3) point loss.
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The Tigers' score of three is the lowest ever AFLW tally, undercutting West Coast's and Geelong's seven points recorded in round five 2020 and the 2019 preliminary final respectively.
Play was so heavily weighted to one area of the ground, the inside-50 count in both the first and second quarters read 11-1 to the club headquarters end.
St Kilda was very efficient in front of goal, with rookie and former volleyballer Gabby Seymour no match for powerful Saint Caitlin Greiser.
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With fans locked out due to the coronavirus, the only crowd noise came from unselected players from both sides, and Greiser was a favourite of her teammates.
She booted the first three goals of the match – including one from 20 metres out that sailed above the goalposts and nearly out of the ground – and took three marks.
The Saints piled on the pain in the third, adding 15 points while the Tigers didn't manage a single inside-50 entry.
In tough conditions for all players, hard-nosed midfielder Rosie Dillon (17 disposals) was strong in the clinches, while Georgia Patrikios (14) added her usual class on the outside.
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Classy Richmond midfielder Mon Conti ran her heart out, and was often caught by St Kilda players attempting to break lines without support from teammates.
Conti finished with a game-high 22 disposals and left the field in tears after the heavy loss.
A game without fans
With supporters locked out of games this round due to the coronavirus, the only fans present were players from both sides who were injured or not selected. The Tigers ran out waving to their honour guard of support staff, while being the home side, the Saints pumped crowd noise out in a tongue-in-cheek move. The St Kilda players even attempted to start their own Mexican wave at one point.
What next for Richmond?
The Tigers will be hoping to get skipper Katie Brennan back, with the midfielder-forward having missed two weeks with concussion. In a worrying sign, Kate Dempsey (ill), Lauren Tesoriero (ill) and Laura McClelland (suspended) are the only other best-21 players to be sidelined. The Tigers had very little run on the outside and were unable to handball themselves clear, instead getting bogged down in some strong St Kilda congestion. It doesn’t get any easier from here, with Brisbane and Adelaide waiting. Tesoriero remains in quarantine – but isn't ill – after her housemate returned from Japan.
Saints on the rise
Georgia Patrikios has rightly earned her fair share of plaudits this year, but it was the work of fellow midfielders Rosie Dillon and Nicola Xenos that caught the eye. Former VFLW Hawk Dillon is growing in confidence and composure as the season progresses, not just a fierce tackler on the inside but freeing up teammates in space with clever hands. Xenos was noted for her elite speed in the under-18s, and her neat kicking skills were on show against the Tigers.
An eerie coincidence
Not only is Richmond the first side to be held goalless in the AFLW competition, the side was the first to be held goalless at the top level since Richmond's VFL side in 1961. The Tigers' opponent that day? St Kilda.
"It was a bit of an odd feeling, not quite the atmosphere we had in round one. Having said that, the best decision was made and we got the four points," – St Kilda co-captain Rhi Watt
"It's life and it's footy, isn't it? There's a lot of things thrown at you. At the end of the day, you just have to go out there and play footy. The girls want to get on the park, they want to compete, they want an opposition. While it's a bit sad we can't have a crowd, it's totally understandable. It's important the games still go on as long as we can, because you can't be what you can't see. So, the broadcasters are on board, we can still role-model through the television. That's really important in terms of society, influencing society and building respect for women," – St Kilda coach Peta Searle
"There were tough moments. We still, at times, played the way we wanted to play. We spoke about it after the game, we had really good opportunities to hit the scoreboard and be successful, but unfortunately we can't quite do it for long enough. It's going to take us a while to get our fitness base to where it needs to be to allow the girls to defend and then attack. It feels like we're working really hard defensively, and we just have no petrol tickets to spend going forward." – Richmond coach Tom Hunter
St Kilda has a challenge against an in-form Collingwood on Sunday at Victoria Park, while Richmond's long season continues, hosting Brisbane at Ikon Park on Friday night.
ST KILDA 2.1 2.1 4.5 6.6 (42)
RICHMOND 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 (3)
St Kilda: Greiser 3, Shierlaw, Xenos, Guttridge
St Kilda: Greiser, Dillon, Patrikios, McDonald, Xenos
Richmond: Conti, Campbell, Monahan, Ross
St Kilda: Nil
St Kilda: Tamara Luke (Achilles soreness) replaced in selected side by Kelly O'Neill
Richmond: Kate Dempsey (ill) replaced in selected side by Sarah Sansonetti
Umpires: Wallace, Rodger, Jago