Tigers down Crows, seal AFL top-four slot

A Dustin Martin cameo has led Richmond to a 44-point win over the Adelaide Crows.
A Dustin Martin cameo has led Richmond to a 44-point win over the Adelaide Crows.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick expects three aces to return to his pack of players eyeing a third AFL premiership in four years.

Hardwick's reigning title-holders will finish in third spot after routing wooden-spooners Adelaide by 44 points on Saturday.

The Tigers will meet Brisbane or Port Adelaide in a qualifying final with Hardwick tipping spearhead Tom Lynch, club champion Dion Prestia and midfield gun Shai Bolton to return from injury.

Prestia looms as a finals wildcard - he hasn't played since injuring an ankle in round five.

"Dion is a wonderful player ... if he's putting his hand up to play, I'm picking him," Hardwick said.

Lynch missed Richmond's 12.5 (77) to 4.9 (33) win over the Crows at Adelaide Oval because of a hamstring strain.

"We get one chance at hamstrings to get those right," Hardwick said.

"Our strength and conditioning staff will do a wonderful job of getting him available hopefully to play but ... we won't take a risk."

Bolton would "absolutely" recover from a calf strain, leaving Hardwick with some agonising selection decisions.

Richmond's demolition of Adelaide featured the comebacks of dual premiership players David Astbury and Shane Edwards.

Astbury was characteristically reliable in the backlines while Edwards' return was seamless, collecting 18 disposals including eight clearances.

"There's going to be some good players miss out," Hardwick said of his first finals team.

"The good thing about our playing group, they have got a really good understanding of what makes us great.

"Twenty-two players players will walk out there but the reality is, it takes a squad to get where you need to go."

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks now turns his mind to building his squad after Crows finished last for the first time since the club's 1991 inception.

"It needs to sting," Nicks said.

The first-year coach will meet next week with all players, including free agent Brad Crouch who is weighing offers from rival clubs.

"I don't expect an answer next week," Nicks said.

"That will be something Brad will work through in his own time."

Nicks will also meet with ex-captain Taylor Walker, who is contracted for next season but uncertain to continue.

Walker on Saturday became Adelaide's all-time leading goalscorer, passing Tony Modra's 440-goal tally with a first-term major.

Walker achieved the feat in his 203rd AFL game while Modra took just 118 games from 1992-98.

But his record-breaker was his sole goal for the game as Adelaide were held to their lowest-ever score against Richmond.

Australian Associated Press