Collingwood had braced for Richmond to challenge the Pies on the inside and to the Tigers’ credit, they scrapped well. But the Magpies were much cleaner with the ball, as Brittany Bonnici, Brianna Davey and Jaimee Lambert led the way in the middle.
Aisling Sheridan provided class up forward, while Chloe Molloy was dangerous again. Ruby Schleicher continued her strong start to the season with another damaging game off half-back.
The Pies showed their blue-collar streak too, impressing with excellent forward pressure, especially early in the piece when the match was still notionally up for grabs.
Collingwood worked their way to a 32-point lead at three-quarter-time but Richmond managed to dodge another shellacking with a spirited final-term showing in which they hemmed the gap.
In promising signs for the Tigers, No. 1 draft pick Ellie McKenzie worked her way into the contest to kick two second-half goals, while Australian basketball representative Tessa Lavey looked far from out of place.
But for a club that has done so much right over the past decade, the fact Richmond are still searching for a maiden AFLW victory a third of the way into their second season in the competition will burn for the powers that be at Punt Road, and raises serious questions about the manner in which the Tigers’ list was built.
“Definitely lots of improvement. Today wasn’t a celebration, wasn’t a win. We got beaten. But it was another step in the right direction and we still take a hell of a lot out of it,” Tigers coach Ryan Ferguson said.
Star ruck Sharni Norder missed Sunday’s win for the Pies with a quad injury but coach Steve Symonds said her return shouldn’t be too far away.
“Sharns just wasn’t quite right and we’ve got to make sure that she’s 100 per cent before we play her again,” Symonds said. “We expect Sharni back pretty soon.”
Symonds added that the lingering uncertainty surrounding this year’s fixture was “pretty tough from a mental point of view for the girls”.
CROSSING THE LINE
The stakes were a fair bit lower, and it came more than 41 years too late, but the Pies look to have benefited from their own Wayne Harmes moment on Sunday. Replays showed the ball was clearly over the boundary line when Lambert curled a ball inside 50. Despite an overcooked handball from Sheridan, second-gamer Joanna Lin did brilliantly to snap truly and ensure Collingwood made the most of their stroke of luck.
Richmond’s Gabby Seymour outbodied Collingwood rock Stacey Livingstone to take a strong grab at full-forward early in the second quarter. The Tiger was pumped, a broad smile emerging on her face. She even gave a fist pump, unusual given she hadn’t yet gone back and kicked the goal. And it turns out she’d gone the early crow, missing a sitter. Teammate Sabrina Frederick would be a culprit later in the quarter as the lowly Tigers continued to blow chances they couldn’t afford to waste.
Meanwhile in the early game on Sunday, Fremantle won their 10th straight game with a 30-point victory over Adelaide at Norwood. Gemma Houghton and Ashley Sharp each kicked two goals for the Dockers, while Kiara Bowers starred with 23 disposals and 13 tackles. Ebony Marinoff also had 23 disposals for the Crows, who badly missed captain Chelsea Randall (concussion).
The AFL on Sunday unveiled the fixture for round four. Yet again, Victorian teams will play among themselves, with the showpiece being a Saturday night clash at Marvel Stadium between North Melbourne and Collingwood. The league will wait on advice from the Victorian government before deciding whether the four matches in Victoria will be open to the public.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter