In unfavourable conditions, Richmond has held strong to defeat the GWS Giants by 43 points at the Mildura Sporting Precinct. It sees the Tigers rise to fourth spot on the AFLW ladder heading into the final round of the season.
Electing to kick with the wind in the first quarter, the Tigers looked dominant early on. Putting four goals on the board and keeping the Giants scoreless, it seemed like the day was going to be simple for Richmond.
However, the wind proved to be a key factor as the Giants used it to their advantage and came out looking very dangerous in the second quarter of the game.
The lead wasn’t insurmountable, but Richmond defended strongly and made it hard for the Giants to ever get back into the game, which ultimately lead the Tigers to a seventh consecutive AFLW win.
As good as the Tigers were in the backline, they were very impactful going forward as well. They piled on the goals throughout the game, with the exception of the second quarter where they weren’t able to create any attacking opportunities.
Star midfielder Monique Conti was at the forefront of Richmond’s attacking brilliance. She kicked three goals in an outstanding performance where she also collected 24 disposals, and laid eight tackles.
Fellow midfielders Grace Egan and Jess Hosking were also able to make their way forward and add a goal each to the tally.
Speaking exclusively with The Inner Sanctum after the game, youngster Stella Reid mentioned how important the trio were when pushing up from midfield to contribute on the scoreboard, especially Conti who was so dominant in this area.
“Our midfield groups is full of guns, and they can just score,” the forward said.
“You can see it at training with them, they’re not just focusing on their midfield game, they’re focusing on practicing goals on the run from centre bounces and everything. They’re just working as a really good unit.”
“Mon’s just an absolute star. Her ability to hit the scoreboard, but then [also] her tackling pressure and being able to work from the contest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other player like that.”
Reid herself also had a brilliant day in front of goal, slotting two crucial majors in the first quarter to give the Tigers significant breathing room early on.
The 19-year-old mentioned how she is finding consistency in her game, and that she thinks she can continue to impact in the future.
“Playing more and more senior footy just gets you to build on that confidence,” she said.
“The coaches have trusted me to play where I believe, and play off instincts, so that’s definitely helped my game. [Also] just being accurate in front of goal, we’re out there for hours on end before training so everyone is improving and learning from one another.”
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Also among the goalscorer were the usual suspects, the aforementioned captain Brennan, and hometown hero Courtney Wakefield.
Growing up on her family’s farm at Top Hut, and working extremely hard to pursue a football career, it was a special moment when Brennan sent the ball to Wakefield and she slotted a goal in front of her family and friends in the first ever AFLW game at the Mildura Sporting Precinct.
Reid spoke about Wakefield’s journey, and how important she has been for the group in their rise up the ladder this season.
“I can’t even comprehend [her story]. She was driving, at one stage, two times a week from Top Hut which is about a six or seven hour drive, and she just puts her all into the team,” she explained.
“She’s absolutely pivotal to our program. You see down here in Mildura, the amount of love and support she has and that’s definitely warranted because she’s an amazing person. I’m so glad she’s getting some reward for all her hard work.”
Sitting in fourth place with one game left to go in the home and away season, Reid explained what Richmond’s big win in Mildura has done for the side going into the final round of the season, where a top four spot will be on the line.
“The atmosphere is absolutely incredible down here in Mildura, it’s just reinvigorated us. The support down here is absolutely amazing,” she said.
“[The win] gives us massive confidence. The belief this group has in one another is just phenomenal.”
Richmond will travel back to Melbourne to take on the Kangaroos at Arden Street, where both sides will be fighting for a spot in the top four. Meanwhile, the Giants will look to end the season on a high, as they take on the Gold Coast Suns at Henson Park.
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