AFL 2018: Richo’s Post Match Presser – Round Five v GWS

The overriding sense for Alan Richardson post-match was one of missed opportunities. “Obviously draws are tough,” he told reporters “You give yourself an opportunity to win the game. Your probably the only team that can win it in the last five seconds. So that’s a bitter pill to swallow when you give yourself an opportunity but in all reality we haven’t been flying. Clearly that’s an understatement, and against a quality team with Newnsey out early we played in a way that gave ourselves an opportunity to beat a really good team. So that’s the big point we take away from the game,” Richardson said.

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Despite falling 18-points behind in the last quarter Richardson refused to give up. “There was plenty of time,” he said. “Clearly you have to play well and you have to take your opportunities and that had been a bit of a battle for us to be able to maximise our opportunities. 67 entries +21 on that. So the footy was working. We obviously still have a bit of work to do to maximise that but I thought that was better. I thought our ball use to create opportunities to convert was better and for parts of it I thought our forwards were better. I think overall it was a better performance but clearly we still have a bit of work to do.”

The Saints inside 50 count was the largest the club had recorded in a game they had not won. Despite this, Richardson was keen to look on the bright side. “First of all it was against a really good footy team. We’re really pleased to be able to get that sort of result,” he said. “To give ourselves the opportunity to put pressure on the opposition. Clearly we weren’t able to capitalise as often as we would like.”

“We’ve just got to keep working on it. We’ve just got to make sure that we are getting a better connect between the kickers and the catchers, that we can get split on our opponents as forwards. There is a lot of craft that goes into that. There is a lot of synergy. It’s still a pretty young group.”

“Tim [Membrey] back in the team after having a couple of weeks and didn’t quite look as dynamic. We think he’ll be better for it next time. I thought Paddy [McCartin] really showed a bit today. I mean Davis [McCartin’s opponent Phil Davis] is an outstanding player. There were periods where both of those guys had control over that position but that is the first time in Paddy’s career that he has played five games in a row. So hopefully that’s a look at what we are going to get going forward.

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Richardson was pleased with McCartin’s performance against a quality opponent. “As I said, I thought that match up of McCartin/Davis, they both had their moments. There were times where Davis was able to control pretty well. There were times where Paddy looked like if we kicked it to him and gave him half a chance he was going to get the ball. So he’ll learn from the game but he should be pretty proud that he kept going. Big goal late for us when there was a bit of pressure for a young fella. So that was good.”

Like most St Kilda fans, Richardson was of the view that Davis had infringed Jake Carlise in the game’s final play. “I actually thought it was a free-kick. I’m sure the vision will show as much,” he said. “I probably carried on a little too much. I don’t tend to worry about umpiring decisions but when there’s two seconds left on the clock there’s nothing else to worry about. Simon Lethlean, who was with me, said ‘no it was probably not a free-kick’.”

Richardson was proud of Carlisle’s post-match assertion that he should have taken the mark regardless. “Yeah, he is right. That’s a great response and that’s true. A really good player to be able to get ourselves an opportunity to have time and space with Jack Steven to execute. I thought he did a good job there and Jake, the two previous plays, was struggling down back and he’d been outstanding for us all game. So it was good that both those guys were able to give us a chance to win the game. We’re disappointed that we couldn’t close it out.”

He admitted that the players might have had greater input in the game plan for this match. “They always do. There’s a lot of conversation that is two way at our footy club to ensure that we are all on the same page. But is fair to say that there was a stronger sense from the players that ‘we’re ready to be trusted’. There’s times that we need to be defensive whether it be on Dylan Shiel or Callum Ward or Toby Green in the forward line. There are some really high talented players there but by and large we’re ready to be trusted in there. So from a coaching point of view I had possibly been a little too conservative with some of our match-ups so there was probably a little more than normal.”

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He admitted that he took heart from his midfield’s ability to mix it with one of the competition’s best onball brigade. “Yes,” he said. “I thought Hickey probably had his best game recent game, certainly his season two years ago was really positive, I though Hickey really gave us some drive. Seb [Ross], [Luke] Dunstan, Blake [Acres] was able to do some work for us. They were really positive. I thought that young [Ben] Long in front of the ball was outstanding. His numbers won’t really reflect that. He was really tough for us today, his ability to win contest, his ability to make the most of his opportunities.”

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“I thought that Brandon White was a real positive down back. We trusted him to play on Griffen who has been in really good form as a forward and is a difficult match-up because of his power and I thought he did a good job. Hunter [Clark], didn’t have a great game but responded really well for us in the last quarter. That was a positive for us. We don’t end up having a much better performance, disappointed we didn’t get the win if you don’t get 22 blokes that contribute. It mightn’t be your game but you can have a significant influence with the moments and some blokes did that. I thought that Gilbo was the same. I thought that Cameron probably had the better of that early, Gilbo fought on and did a good job after.”

Asked about the attendance figure of 14,956, Richardson said the noise was akin to a much larger crowd. “It had an impact,” he said of the crowd. “It had an impact in the last quarter. I would have thought there was 25[thousand] there today. So I had no idea about the numbers but those fans that did turn up they made a difference late. We were 15-points down and I reckon they were as strong in their belief as our players were in some ways if their noise reflects that. I was really pleased with the way our fans supported our group today. Didn’t know about the numbers but the way they supported and potentially inspired late was pretty significant.”

Richardson admitted that it was on him to ensure that Saints fans returned to the footy. “That’s my job. I’m the footy coach. We’ve just got to be much more consistent with our performance and I’m sure that we’ll get that support. We know that we have got to get going and today was a step in the right direction. We are disappointed that we didn’t get the result but we played the footy, unlike recent weeks, where we give ourselves the opportunity to win games of footy. and that’s what our fans are after. They want to turn up knowing that their team is consistent in their performance and they are in every game to give ourselves a chance to win.”

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He admitted that Jack Newnes was still worse for wear after the early knock that ruled him out of the game. “He was still a bit crook after the game. So like all of those things it will just be how does he pull up and how does he respond? They go through all the cogs test etc but we will just have to wait and see on that.”

While he was disappointed in his team drawing the match, Richardson didn’t support the introduction of extra time to settle draws in the future. “I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to things like the bounce, draws, I think its quite unique to our game. I like the draw. I don’t like today’s draw but philosophically in general I think it adds a little theatre to the game and the fans are going home in a different state. Instead of winners or losers they are going home a little different. I’m ok with that.”

Told that GWS Coach Leon Cameron thought his team was lucky to draw the game, Richardson agreed that he felt his team was unlucky. “I felt as a coach that we controlled big parts of the game. There was a period it was down at this end, the city end and there were two left foot goals from the boundary from two talented people and there’s not much you can do about that. Then I think late, which is where I think Leon is coming from, we were the only team that could win in the last 10 seconds given it was going our way. We were probably a little lucky that they kicked inaccurately. They could have been better there and that could have made it more difficult but by and large I felt that we controlled more of the play.”

After three straight defeats, Richardson was proud of his team’s response.” We are a team that needs to fight and scrap. I think we were able to create 50 mid turnovers. That gives you the opportunity to go back at the opposition when they are possibly out of position. They are good numbers. Close to 80 tackles on this deck, pressure where it needs to be. Our best performances, our best footy is underpinned by defence and contest and really hunting the opposition and for big parts of it, I thought we got that today.”

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