Prestia breathes life into Tigers' AFL season
Damien Hardwick has hailed Dion Prestia's influence after the midfielder's brilliant burst helped Richmond snap a five-match losing streak with a 46-point win over injury-ravaged West Coast.
Prestia got hot in bitterly cold conditions on Saturday, kicking three goals in five minutes late in the third quarter to break open a dour contest at the MCG.
Midfield recruits Tim Taranto (30 disposals, 10 clearances) and Jacob Hopper (32, 10) also stood tall as the Tigers triumphed 15.14 (104) to 8.10 (58).
Prestia's three majors equalled a career-high tally for the 199-game veteran.
Fellow star Shai Bolton (31 disposals, seven clearances) also finished with three goals and Taranto booted two, while Dustin Martin (27 touches) added one on a day when spearhead Jack Riewoldt was kept scoreless by Eagles defender Tom Barrass.
It was Richmond's (2-1-5) first win since round two, breathing some much-needed life back into their season.
"Dion's a pretty special player and he played hurt at the start of the year but put his hand up," Tigers coach Hardwick said.
"He was pretty important today.
"The ability for him to hit the scoreboard when it mattered broke the game open from there and he's a real important player for us, as we know, but it's good to see his season is starting to get up and going.
"Working in unison with Hopper, Taranto, Shai, Dustin and Jayden Short was really important and it's probably the first time since the early rounds that we've had all those guys in the side at the same time.
"Hopefully they can get some momentum from that and get a little bit better."
West Coast forward Oscar Allen kicked a game-high four goals but couldn't drag his side over the line as the visitors suffered a sixth-straight defeat.
Already ravaged by injuries this season, the Eagles' woes continued when young midfielder Jai Culley went down clutching his right knee 12 minutes into the match.
The 20-year-old, a Rising Star nominee playing his ninth senior game, hobbled off with help from trainers and was substituted out minutes later with a suspected torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Tim Kelly (29 disposals, nine clearances) and Dom Sheed (29, nine) worked tirelessly in a losing cause for West Coast, while Jamaine Jones had a career-high 30 disposals.
The Eagles won clearances (45-37) but were beaten in contested possession (151-130) and smashed in inside-50s (65-42).
"For the most part we think our effort's been there this year and with what's happening to our club at the moment (with injuries) it's been a real challenge to win," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
"The things we've chased, we saw in the first quarter. We couldn't sustain it but we hung in there."