Impressive performances from Doulton Langlands, Sam Rowe and Jack Newnes have brightened a wet and miserable afternoon against Richmond at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
Torrential rain and bone-chilling wind swept across the ground and only worsened as the day wore on, but the trio weathered the elements to piece together arguably their best individual games in the 7.11 (53) to 10.8 (68) result.
Rowe’s tireless display in the ruck (52 hit-outs) and work between offence and defence was a standout, while Langlands’ gradual move to a pure inside midfielder over recent weeks has only benefitted the rookie-listed Saint.
Langlands finished with 19 disposals, seven tackles and a goal, and was flanked well by Newnes inside (21 disposals), who played his first game in the reserves after a 123-game streak at senior level.
Nathan Brown (18 disposals, five marks) and Darragh Joyce (12 disposals, four marks) were just as influential through their vision and leadership in the back half, while Bailey Rice thrived in the unfavourable conditions with 14 touches and five tackles.
Despite the grit from players such as Rice, Sandringham were unable to absorb Richmond’s pressure across the entire afternoon, with a scoreless opening term and a contrasting 6.3 for the Tigers too great a hurdle to overcome.
While the Zebras subsequently clamped down in the middle portion and drew within nine points in a final quarter plastered with sheets of rain, Richmond regained control around the contest to retain top spot on the ladder.
Sandringham’s Sam Fox (three goals) and Brede Seccull (23 disposals) gave their side hope, but it wasn’t enough to secure the four points.
Coach Aaron Hamill took positives from the loss, but said the Zebras were left to rue a sluggish start to the game, missed opportunities at goal and a 2.4 final term.
“No doubt we had our moments, but we just weren’t able to capitalise,” Hamill told saints.com.au.
“We got within nine points and then fell away at the contested ball, fell away from the groundball gets (-23) and our shape, and they were able to get their system going in the last 10 minutes.”
It looked as if Sandringham were on the cusp of pinching an incredible win in the stirring final-quarter slog, but were unable to take full effect when they had their hands on the wheel.
“We had six shots from 12 entries, so 50% puts you in a position to be able to capitalise, but we were just wasteful,” Hamill said.
“It's a little bit frustrating overall, because we felt that 46% (18 scoring shots from 51 entries) was probably enough, but we clearly just didn’t kick goals when we needed to, and that’s basically where it was.”
Richmond finished with just two more forward-50 entries for the same number of scoring shots, half of which were accrued in the first term.
“Even though Richmond had 20 entries in that first quarter, I think the fact we were able to keep them to just nine for the rest of the game was pleasing,” Hamill said.
Brandon White often started on the wing at centre bounces before drifting back to his usual home in defence, which was manned well by Oscar Clavarino (four marks) and Jonathon Marsh (14 disposals).
Marsh was swung forward in the last quarter to generate scoring opportunities, but Fox and Langlands proved to be the only Sandringham goalkickers in the final stanza.
Robbie Young (seven tackles) was subject to a fiery Richmond outfit but still delivered his trademark pressure, while Jack Mayo’s continual improvement was capped off with a goal in the wet.
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Despite the loss, several Saints stood out.
But for Langlands in particular, his performance in the wet could be the tipping point which pushes him to make his long-awaited debut for St Kilda.
The 19-year-old has been listed as an emergency twice in the past three weeks, and will likely be joined by Newnes, Rowe, Brown and others in the selection conversation.
Sandringham will have the chance to even the ledger when it takes on North Melbourne next Sunday at Arden Street Oval.
SANDRINGHAM 0.0 3.5 5.7 7.11 (53)
RICHMOND 6.3 7.4 9.6 10.8 (68)
Sandringham: Fox 3, Mayo, Haidon, Langlands, Owens
Richmond: Townsend 3, Grewar 2, Higgins 2, Baker, Butler, Weller
Sandringham: Langlands, Rowe, Newnes, Brown, Joyce, Rice, Fox, Seccull
Richmond: Townsend, Weller, Higgins, Coleman-Jones, Garthwaite, Eggmolesse-Smith