Martin move makes big difference against Giants
AUSSIE RULES: Richmond defender Alex Rance hit the nail on the head.
"Keep those memberships out of the microwave,” he told Fox Footy after the Tigers' brave 19-point win over the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
For the first time in a long time, there is genuine excitement surrounding Richmond. And for good reason. Yesterday's win has elevated the Tigers into the top four.
A dominant second quarter was the catalyst for a win that redeemed the heartache Richmond suffered at the hands of GWS just two months ago at Spotless Stadium.
Having been comprehensively outplayed in the opening quarter, held goalless by the Giants, the Tigers then got to work and it was one man leading the charge.
Trailing in disposals, clearances, inside 50s and contested possessions at quarter time, Dustin Martin moved into the midfield and rectified almost all of those issues.
Lining up on Josh Kelly - another player whose future has been speculated about as much as his - Martin had 11 disposals, seven contested possessions and five inside 50s in the quarter.
It came amid a period where the Tigers held the Giants goalless for 50 straight minutes, piling on six goals themselves to grab a commanding lead before the rain came.
"He's the reason we value these sorts of players in our great game,” Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin said of Martin on Fox Footy after the match.
"Luckily, I have front row tickets to it every week, which is pretty special.
"The greatest thing about Dusty is that he also plays a role for the team. I know he's a superstar but if he needs to go forward, he goes forward. He plays midfield, he wins contests.”
Martin finished with 31 disposals, 11 clearances, 10 inside 50s, two goal assists and a goal in a performance that is almost certainly going to secure him another three Brownlow votes.
But while he was outstanding, he didn't play a lone hand.
Cotchin also continued his fine season with another impressive individual display that yielded 27 disposals, seven tackles and four clearances.
Together, they have become arguably the league's best midfield duo, rivalling Geelong's Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield each and every week with their consistency.
"They were fantastic today,” Jack Riewoldt said.
"The midfield battle was the one you had to win today in the wet, to get the ball going your way and those guys were outstanding.”
As for the Giants, the less said the better.
Raging premiership favourites barely a month ago, Leon Cameron's side has now won only one game in its last six, with its place in the top four, let alone the top eight, not secure.
Now level on points with Richmond and just two games clear inside the finals positions, they are likely to lose more key players due to injury and suspension in the coming weeks.
Toby Greene will come under more MRP scrutiny for a jumper punch to the head of Rance, while Dylan Shiel did not finish the game due to what appeared to be a shoulder injury.