Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast Suns; Richmond Tigers v Port Adelaide Power

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Richmond’s reigning club champion Tim Taranto says some of what the Tigers dished up on Sunday was “unacceptable” but believes their season remains alive despite slumping to 0-3.

Maurice Rioli’s back-related late withdrawal from a pre-match tackling drill meant Richmond made a sixth forced change from last week’s narrow loss to Carlton, which they could not overcome in a 30-point defeat to Port Adelaide at the MCG.

Tim Taranto of the Tigers and Dylan Williams of the Power collide at the MCG on Sunday.Credit: AFL Photos

The Tigers were already without defenders Josh Gibcus, Nathan Broad and Tylar Young and star on-ballers Dion Prestia and Jacob Hopper for a clash they needed to be at their best to have any chance of causing an upset.

“There were good patches in that game, then some really bad ones – and that doesn’t get you wins, unfortunately,” Taranto told The Age.

“That third quarter [conceding seven goals to four] and the start of the fourth was pretty poor from us, especially the mids. I reckon we got beaten in the contest at centre bounce [but] we’ve got a young team in, so it was good to get some game time into those boys. We’re still just searching for those four [consistent] quarters.”

Taranto praised forward Seth Campbell (third game) and defender Tom Brown (second), as well as more seasoned young players Ben Miller and Jack Ross, and said Richmond were most focused on improving.

Unbeaten Sydney and another 2023 finalist, St Kilda, fresh from defeating last year’s premiers Collingwood, await the Tigers in the next fortnight.

“Footy never does get easier, but you never know [what can happen],” Taranto said.

“Like, 0-3, I know that stings a bit, but we don’t really have an expectation. It’s just trying to get better each week – that’s our motto – and I mean, it’d be great if we were 3-0, but we’re not, so we’ll just keep trying to get better.

“The season will be what the season is. Who knows what it is? Nothing’s ruled out yet; it’s f—ing three games in. There’s plenty of the season to go.”

Taranto made it clear they were “not just going to roll over” and would continue to do everything possible to win games despite critics making them a popular choice to finish in the bottom four.

First-year coach Adem Yze said Broad and Rioli were a good chance to return against the Swans, but that Hopper’s injured knee was likely to undergo a procedure on Monday, and he might miss multiple weeks.

Those injury woes meant the Tigers had to be “realistic” that “there could be some failures”, Yze said.

“It’s all happening, but that’s OK,” Yze said. “I spoke to the players about that – we’re going through a little bit at the moment, a bit of adversity … but in the end, we have to go with a no-risk attitude.

“In saying that, we’ve come up against two quality sides in Carlton and Port Adelaide [the past two rounds], and I feel like when we do play our best footy, in patches, that we can take it up to the best teams, so there are elements of our game we’re really proud of.”

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