Martin stars as Tigers go close to massive upset win

Roger Vaughan |

Dustin Martin put on a familiar vintage show only for Richmond to fall just short against Essendon.
Dustin Martin put on a familiar vintage show only for Richmond to fall just short against Essendon.

Once again, Dustin Martin has let his football do the talking as he nearly led Richmond to a stunning AFL upset win over Essendon.

There had been plenty of talk about Martin’s form and future ahead of the Dreamtime At The ‘G clash.

But in his 298th game on Saturday, the media-shy star answered with a game that was vintage Martin.

He kicked three goals and was a constant problem for the Bombers, also missing two shots in the last term.

Martin had a kick inside 50 late in the game, but he couldn’t find a target and the Bombers were able to close out the match 12.14 (86) to 10.14 (74).

Coach Adem Yze praised Martin and said the criticism of his form had been unfair, noting that the injury-riddled Tigers are a much different team to the one that won three premierships between 2017-20.

“It was just good to see him get some reward out on the field. He’s trying so hard, trying to lead our younger forwards,” Yze said.

There were moments of Martin magic in Richmond’s 12-point defeat. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“We have a really young forward line at the moment, so synergy can take a little bit of time.

“He’s been used to playing with the same guys for the last 10 years.

“We’re not the same team we were five years ago, and we’re dealing with a fair bit, with some injuries.”

Those injury woes continued on Saturday, with Tyler Young suffering a knee injury in their VFL game.

Shai Bolton, another key Richmond player who lifted on Saturday night, had to be subbed out in the last term.

He suffered concussion when teammate Mykelti Lefau cannoned into him from behind at a marking contest.

It was a crucial blow to the Tigers’ chances and Bolton will miss next Saturday night’s game agaisnt the Cats in Geelong.

“This game means so much to him, as we know. It was unfortunate,” Yze said of the Indigenous star.

“Losing him at that time of the game, he was looking so dangerous.”

With Yze coaching from the bench, Richmond were a transformed side after massive losses in their previous two games to the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane.

Along with established players such as Martin, Bolton, Liam Baker and Toby Nankervis, youngsters such as Thompson Dow and Kane McAuliffe also shone.

Noah Balta was moved from attack into defence for the game and Yze lamented, “I wish we had two of him.”

Overall, Richmond were impressive in rallying from two dirty weeks.

“We feel like our supporters would have been proud with the effort, that’s what we expect every week,” Yze said

“The main thing was around our spirit and energy and doing the jumper proud … that’s the standard we want.

“The whole week, they dug in as a group … just really disappointed we couldn’t get away with the win.”