Jack Riewoldt is taken from the ground after being concussed.
Jack Riewoldt is taken from the ground after being concussed.

Jack back as Tigers brace for Bombers onslaught

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick said Punt Rd Oval was the perfect place for his players to prepare for the searing pressure levels Essendon has exerted over the past three weeks.

The Bombers have become the first team to record a pressure factor of more than 200 in three consecutive matches and Hardwick said his players would've learned to absorb such intensity on the training track against each other.

"The good thing about us is we're training against one of the best (pressure) teams in the competition - ourselves, on a weekly basis," Hardwick said.

"Our guys are used to it, they understand it (and) they understand how to absorb it. It's going to be a great test and it excites us."

The league average for pressure is 182 points , with a pressure factor of 190 considered strong and anything north of 200 considered off the charts.

The Bombers recorded a pressure factor of 211 against GWS lat week, while the Tigers' pressure has dropped off significantly in the past five weeks.

The Tigers are shooting for their seventh consecutive win against Essendon and their 15th consecutive win at the MCG.

More than 85,000 are expected to pack the stands for Saturday night's Dreamtime blockbuster, although indigenous forward Dan Rioli will continue his return from ankle surgery in the VFL against Collingwood on Sunday.


Dan Rioli in action for Richmond in the VFL.
Dan Rioli in action for Richmond in the VFL.

Hardwick said Rioli was likely to play his first AFL game since last year's Grand Final against Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) next Friday night.

"We'd hate to rush him in for a game," Hardwick said.

"He plays at such a high intensity that we'd hate to put him in a little bit underdone, because the way he plays the game he might be a chance of re-injuring himself."

Spearhead Jack Riewoldt passed a concussion test this morning, while Dylan Grimes (back) was also given the green light to take on the Bombers.

But Bachar Houli (groin) is not expected to return until the Tigers' Round 15 clash against Sydney while Hardwick said Dion Prestia (calf) was "doubtful" to play next week.


Jack Riewoldt after being concussed last weekend.
Jack Riewoldt after being concussed last weekend.

While the Bombers have recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season, Hardwick noted their key performance indicators were similarly strong against Carlton in Round 8.

"It's probably the last three weeks have been noticeable, their ability to spread from contest to contest," Hardwick said.

"Their pressure has funnily enough been high, but it's higher again. I think they're going more forward with the football, prepared to kick the ball longer at various stages as well.

"They're playing a great brand of footy. The way they're playing the game it looks similar to us in a way."


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