DUSTIN Martin’s return failed to spark Richmond as their AFL premiership defence took another hit in a 26-point defeat to St Kilda on Saturday.
The Brownlow medallist collected 19 disposals after a week off with bruised ribs but didn’t have a major influence as the Saints finished full of running in a 15.3 (93) to 10.7 (67) win at Marvel Stadium.
Jack Billings (25 disposals) and Jack Steele (21) starred through the middle as Jake Carlisle marshalled the Saints’ defence superbly.
Trade period recruit Dan Butler – brought in from the Tigers last October in exchange for the bargain price of National Draft pick No.56 – kicked three goals in his first match against his old side.
Tim Membrey also kicked three majors as Jack Lonie, Rowan Marshall and Dean Kent chipped in with two apiece to spread the load.
A suspected hamstring injury to Zak Jones was the only sour note for St Kilda, who stuck to their task with a run-and-gun game style and kicked their highest score of the season to date.
The result left Richmond sitting outside the top eight with two losses and a draw since the season restart.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick axed premiership players Daniel Rioli, Marlion Pickett, Ivan Soldo and Jack Graham in a major shake-up after the smashing from Hawthorn in round three.
Richmond got off to the hottest of starts when Shane Edwards ran in to kick the first goal after just 10 seconds.
But many of the same issues that have plagued them since the season resumption were evident again as they failed to match their opponents’ speed and intensity around the ball.
St Kilda burnt the Tigers with their fast ball movement and led by as much as 19 points on multiple occasions before halftime.
Butler was an ever-present danger and Bradley Hill (19 disposals, one goal) racked up touches at will on the wing until a rolled ankle sent a brief scare through the Saints’ camp during the second term.
Richmond challenged in the third quarter but never got closer than 10 points after the main break and the Saints kicked three goals to one with the game on the line in the final term.
St Kilda suffered a blow pre-match when Paddy Ryder was a late withdrawal with back soreness, replaced by Kent..
In Ryder’s absence, Marshall was a strong contributor in the ruck against Toby Nankervis.
(C) AAP 2020
ST KILDA 5.2 8.2 12.2 15.3 (93)
RICHMOND 4.1 6.3 9.5 10.7 (67)
Goals: St Kilda: D Butler 3 T Membrey 3 D Kent 2 J Lonie 2 R Marshall 2 B Hill J Battle J Marsh. Richmond: S Bolton 2 T Lynch 2 J Castagna J Higgins J Riewoldt S Edwards S Stack T Nankervis.
Umpires: Robert Findlay, Leigh Haussen, Craig Fleer.
Venue: Marvel Stadium.