Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is sure the Simonds Stadium crowd influenced a skewed free-kick count in their upset AFL loss to Geelong.
The Cats held on in Saturday’s last quarter for a crucial 11.14 (80) to 9.12 (66) win that meant they took third spot from the Tigers with two rounds left.
There was plenty of pre-match speculation about whether the game should be moved to the MCG, given the importance of the game and the drawing power of the two teams.
Cats coach Chris Scott said post-match that local fans took “umbrage” to the suggestion the game should be moved.
Just as Scott heaped praise on the Geelong faithful, Hardwick was equally adamant the Cats had a big home-ground advantage and his comments about the umpiring could attract AFL scrutiny.
“The home crowd gets behind them – have a look at the free-kick count,” Hardwick said.
“It is what it is. What I will say is you have a significant home ground advantage.
“I understand what Chris is saying, I’d be playing as many home games here as I can.
“They’re an outstanding side, plus, when it comes to playing here.”
The free-kick count was 20-7 Geelong’s way at halftime and 28-17 for the match.
“Our Tiger fans are the same when we get back home (the MCG) – it’s the lie of the land,” Hardwick said.
But Richmond’s free-kick difference for the season moves to minus 74.
At the end of his post-game media conference, Scott volunteered praise for the crowd support and the atmosphere at the game.
Their VFL team beat Richmond and the Geelong women’s team also won at a neighbouring ground in Kardinia Park.
“The feedback from the players and certainly the feedback from the coaches’ box was that is the best we’ve ever heard our crowd,” Scott said.
“They took umbrage to the fact that there was any suggestion their home game should be taken away from them.
“They responded in a manner that the whole of Geelong should be proud of.”
It was Geelong’s 13th-straight win over Richmond and they did it without captain Joel Selwood, key forward Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan.
With Hawkins suspended, swingman Harry Taylor was outstanding on Richmond’s Alex Rance, surely this year’s All-Australian full-back.
Taylor kicked four goals and was best afield.
Patrick Dangerfield returned from suspension and racked up a game-high 30 disposals.
Steven Motlop also came back after being rested for two games and was much improved.
Geelong key forward Rhys Stanley suffered a calf muscle injury and Richmond’s Josh Caddy was forced out of the match in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.
Midfielder Dion Prestia had 29 disposals and was best for the Tigers.
Geelong face Collingwood at the MCG and GWS at home as they try to secure a top-four berth.
Richmond drop from third to fourth, but should still claim a double chance with Fremantle (Perth) and St Kilda (MCG) to come.