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Tigers win, Saints rebuild in AFL
Roger Vaughan
11:47 AEST Sat Apr 6 2013

How Scott Watters would love to have Damien Hardwick's problems.

Hardwick coached Richmond to a 17-point win over Watters' Saints on Friday night at the MCG, giving them a 2-0 start and leaving their opposition winless.

It is the Tigers' best start since 1997 in a season full of expectation, where they aim to make the finals for the first time since 2001.

Like round one against Carlton, Richmond were scrappy in a tight match and Hardwick was relieved rather than rapt as he fronted the media post-match.

"I probably rated our guys 6.5, seven out of 10 and probably the same last week," Hardwick said.

"The Carlton and St Kilda teams are around us from last year - we need to improve at least 15 per cent to get to the sides above us again.

"While I'm happy to be two and zip, I know we still have an enormous amount of work to do in certain areas of our game."

But at least they're winning the close ones - Richmond's top-eight hopes last season were cruelled because of several tight losses - and they are on the way up.

By contrast, the Saints are rebuilding and the grand final near-misses of 2009-10 are another era.

There is no quick fix to the gap on their list between the established stars at one end and the youngsters at the other.

Senior players dominated for the two teams, with Hardwick noting that players such as captain Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio stood up for Richmond in the frenetic final term.

Jack Riewoldt was best afield with seven goals for Richmond and cousin Nick led St Kilda superbly with four goals.

Ruckman Ben McEvoy, Clint Jones and Sam Gilbert stood out for the Saints and All Australian Sean Dempster played out the game with a broken wrist.

The difference is Richmond have a much better-balanced list

"Are we happy about losing a game of footy? Absolutely not," Watters said.

"Did they try their guts out? Absolutely.

"We know exactly where our list is at and we know exactly the sort of evolution we need - so this is not a new pathway."


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