Retiring ruckman Dean Cox was left concussed as Richmond sent West Coast’s season from bad to worse with a fighting 17-point win at Patersons Stadium tonight.
It was the Tigers who prevailed in a fiery and physical encounter in trying conditions and consistent rain to record their seventh win of the year 8.11 (59) to 6.6 (42) and draw level with the Eagles with a record of 7-10 for 2014.
Both teams were expected to figure in finals this season but with both disappointing in the first third of the season, the Friday night encounter was more for pride than anything of substance.
Inconsistent Richmond big man Ty Vickery became public enemy No.1 in front of the Eagles crowd of 32,270 after sending champion ruckman Cox, 32, out of the game with a crude fist to the jaw in the second quarter.
Cox started on the bench after announcing his retirement during the week and had managed just four disposals and 18 hit-outs before copping the round house fist from Vickery as they were grappling at a ruck contest.
Cox, who elbowed Vickery in the stomach just prior to the incident, stayed down for a long time from the hit and then went off in the hands of the trainers before being checked for concussion on the bench.
His night was soon ended as substitute Simon Tunbridge came into the game much earlier than expected.
Vickery was immediately reported and soon left the ground himself looking groggy after copping plenty of treatment from Cox’s angry teammates.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson said Cox was “not good” at half time.
Prime mover Luke Shuey went off with what looked to be a serious ankle injury in the third term but played the game out with a noticeable limp.
The Tigers dominated the clearances and contested possessions on a night when those statistics were going to be a key to deciding the dour contest.
Brandon Ellis gathered 27 possessions, while Brett Deledio had 26 disposals and was damaging forward of centre.
Matt Priddis fought manfully for 30 touches and nine clearances, while Nic Naitanui produced one of his better performances for the year with 18 possessions and 50 hit-outs.
Steady rain began falling before the ball was bounced and it only got heavier as the first quarter progressed.
The Eagles got the first centre clearance and scoring shot through a soccer from Jack Darling which didn’t hit the mark, but the visitors played the better wet weather football for the next 10 minutes.
Richmond helped themselves to the opening goal of the game when Xavier Ellis pushed over Nick Vlastuin after he had marked at 50m to allow him the unmissable shot from the square.
Darling and Josh Kennedy then slotted quick back-to-back goals to steal back the lead halfway through the term.
It was an arm wrestle from there with both sides struggling to get a handle on the ball, but Vickery was able to grab hold of a quick Riewoldt snap and get it across the line for a goal from the square.
Then with seconds left in the term, an over zealous Chris Masten got Vickery high and the much-maligned Tiger converted the set shot after the siren to take the momentum.
It was tough going early in the second quarter with persistent forward pressure eventually ending in a Patrick McGinnity snap which brought West Coast back within a point.
Anthony Miles and Mark LeCras then traded goals as the Tigers maintained a slight edge, before Vickery struck Cox in the jaw at a ruck contest, flooring the veteran.
Players from both sides then lost concentration, with LeCras putting Vickery down off the ball to give away a 50m penalty.
Richmond dominated scoring in the final minutes but couldn’t convert until Dustin Martin marked in the dying seconds and slotted the after-the-siren shot to stretch the lead out to 11 points at the main break.
Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin gave his side the best possible start to the third quarter when he cleverly soccered a bouncing ball from an angle for a goal, getting away from Mark Hutchings, who had kept him relatively quiet in the first half.
That goal gave the Tigers a significant almost three-goal lead.
A long ball from West Coast skipper for the night Shannon Hurn then landed in the arms of Tunbridge, who converted to narrow the margin again.
A desperate Eric Mackenzie then stopped what looked a certain goal by getting a hand on a Vickery soccer as the Eagles started to get on top in general play with Shuey limping off with what looked to be a serious ankle injury soon after.
But the home side couldn’t land another blow as Richmond defended grimly.
When Martin dropped a chest mark but recovered to snap his second, it was back to that almost three-goal advantage.
Richmond substitute Nathan Gordon looked as if he might have iced the game in the opening minutes of the last when he slotted a goal from the pocket, but the South Australian had run too far to give West Coast life again.
Darling then put through his second after marking in the pocket to reduce the deficit to 10 points and give the home crowd hope.
But it was tough going from there as Richmond held on for dear life and when Jack Riewoldt won a free kick right in front and kicked the goal, they were clear to hold on for the gutsy win.
| GOALS - RICHMOND: Vickery, Martin 2; Vlastuin, Miles, Cotchin, Riewoldt. WEST COAST: Darling 2; Kennedy, McGinnity, LeCras, Tunbridge|
BEST - RICHMOND: Ellis, Deledio, Martin, Foley, Maric, Miles. WEST COAST: Priddis, Naitanui, Ellis, Shuey, Hutchings, Mackenzie