Richmond sensation Monique Conti has inspired the Tigers to their first AFLW opening-round win, starring in a 38-point victory over St Kilda.
Dual-code athlete Conti had her first pre-season uninterrupted by WNBL commitments and was on another level at Frankston Oval, racking up 29 disposals, nine clearances and 17 contested possessions in the 10.1 (61) to 3.5 (23) win.
It was a dominant performance from the Tigers, who kept St Kilda goalless in the second and third quarters amid a run of nine consecutive goals.
Conti was well-supported by Tessa Lavey (19 disposals) and Maddy Brancatisano, while Katie Brennan and Courtney Wakefield (two goals apiece) offered a presence up front.
At the other end, Harriet Cordner and Sarah D’Arcy marshalled the Tigers’ defence with aplomb.
In St Kilda’s first game under Nick Dal Santo, Tilly Lucas-Rodd (20 disposals), Tarni White and Olivia Vesely were busy throughout while skipper Hannah Priest was solid in defence.
Both teams were without key figures from 2021.
Richmond young gun Ellie McKenzie was sidelined with a calf injury, while St Kilda star Georgia Patrikios is absent indefinitely due to her reluctance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Tigers had seven debutants while St Kilda had three, and was without Kate Shierlaw, Nicola Xenos and Molly McDonald due to the AFL’s health and safety protocols.
Richmond dominated the play early, but St Kilda drew first blood when White launched a long bomb from outside 50.
Both teams traded quickfire goals, but when Richmond’s Christina Bernardi kicked a slick goal late in the quarter, it proved the first of nine unanswered majors.
After trailing by a point at quarter-time, the Tigers’ direct, attacking approach flipped their deficit into a nine-point lead at the main break.
Richmond debutant Stella Reid snapped the opening goal of the third term, with Brennan and Wakefield adding two more to put the game firmly in the visitors’ control.
Bernardi’s second goal early in the final term put the result beyond doubt, with Brennan and Meagan Kiely rounding out the thumping win.
The performance was a stark contrast to Richmond’s only previous clash with the Saints in round six of 2020, where they were held to just three points.
St Kilda’s Jessica Matin marked strongly and dobbed a late consolation goal to finish off a difficult night for the Saints.