David Astbury has stepped up to help fill the void left by Alex Rance. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith.
David Astbury has stepped up to help fill the void left by Alex Rance. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith.

Rance-less Tigers defence sets standard

Richmond has the AFL's most impenetrable defence since the bye and has "a lot of confidence" its back-six can stand up in the heat of finals without injured star Alex Rance.

The Tigers have conceded just 429 points in seven games since Round 15, an average of 61.3 points a game.

 

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Hawthorn (456 points) and Brisbane (465 points) rank as the next best defences over the same period.

Richmond has conceded 100-plus points on four occasions this year, all of those coming in the first 13 rounds.

However, the Tigers meet two of the top three highest-scoring teams in the competition over the final two weeks of the regular season - West Coast and Brisbane - in a pre-finals acid test.

"I still think there's room for improvement holistically but we haven't had a big score kicked against us for a while," Richmond defender David Astbury told the Herald Sun.

"We'll get really tested this week against one of the best offensive teams in the competition and we need to make sure we continue that trend.

"The beauty about playing good teams like this at the back end of the year is you get a real gauge on where you're at. We'll embrace the challenge that comes over the next fortnight."

 

Dylan Grimes has been a pillar in a strong Richmond defence this year. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Dylan Grimes has been a pillar in a strong Richmond defence this year. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

 

Rance told teammates last week he would not be making a return to the field this year, having pushed for a miracle comeback after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Carlton in Round 1.

Astbury said while Rance had been missed, he had little doubt the Tigers could still hold their own in September.

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"I haven't played with Rancey for 20 weeks now," Astbury said.

"Ideally we'd love him to be out there. He's one of the best defenders of all time. But we've got no choice but to press on with the cattle we've got.

"He (Rance) is still a huge part of who we are and we take huge teaching points out of what he brings. But we still feel like we can get it done with the group that we've got.

"I feel like a few of us have shouldered a bit of a load in the absence of Rancey. You just adapt game day."

 

News Corp Australia


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