Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting from AAMI Stadium in Adelaide
Coming off three losses in a row, Richmond was desperate to arrest the slide with a win on the road against the surprisingly 5-1 Port Adelaide Power. Despite losing for the first time this season in Round 6, the Power had gained plenty of admirers after a narrow loss in Tasmania to a dogged North Melbourne outfit. If the Tigers were to cause an upset, it would be without 2012 Brownlow Medal runner-up and Captain Trent Cotchin who succumbed to knee soreness and was declared unfit for the game. Ty Vickery and Ricky Petterd were also added to an increasing Tiger injury list, while Dom Cassisi was a late out for the Power. The bookies had Port backed into firm favorites early in the week, no doubt on the back of the withdrawal of Cotchin.
AAMI Stadium was bathed in sunshine as a balmy 24 degree day had the spectators reaching for the shorts and T-shirts as they prepared for this all-important contest. VFL stalwart ruckman Orren Stephenson contested the opening bounce for Richmond, and he drew first blood, banging the footy down the throat of Shane Edwards in a sign of things to come for the visiting Tigers. Two minutes in and a mark and goal to Jack Riewoldt had the Tiger Army up and about. Richmond looked solid early, hitting targets and tackling fiercely when Port had the ball. A good mark to Shane Tuck resulted in the second goal of the game and at the seven minute mark Richmond had bounced out to a 12 point lead. Port got themselves on the board courtesy of a free kick as Robbie Gray goaled before Riewoldt replied for the Tigers. Richmond was playing the better footy, running the ball through the corridor with Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin providing much of the run. Another free kick inside the 50 meter arc, this time to ex-Tiger Jay Schulz, resulted in Port’s second goal as they pegged the margin back to six points. From there on, the quarter was dominated by the Tigers with Edwards, Brandon Ellis and rookie Nick Vlastuin all looking impressive for Richmond. Goals to Robin Nahas, Vlastuin, Jake King, Chris Newman and a checkside party trick to Jack Riewoldt helped the Tigers cruise into quarter time with a 37 point lead. After copping some criticism for his game against Geelong, Brett Deledio was leading the way for the Tigers with double figure possessions and plenty of run and carry for Richmond.
In the second quarter Port play a more contested game. However Power players failed to apply any realistic pressure to Richmond, missing multiple opportunities in front of goal. Nine minutes in and it was the Tigers who broke the second quarter stalemate when ex-skipper Newman hit Riewoldt 35 meters out, the Tiger forward providing a highlight with a one handed circus-style catch. Big Jack didn’t let his team down as he threaded his kick right through the middle for a Richmond goal. At the 11 minute mark an excellent Daniel Stewart spinning mark resulted in a goal to Angus Monfries before Andrew Moore made something out of nothing to give Port back-to-back goals for the first time in the game. The home crowd could feel some momentum and started to find some voice, hoping for a miracle comeback akin to the one they witnessed against West Coast just a fortnight earlier. A bittersweet moment followed for Richmond as the in-form Chris Knights launched a beautiful left foot goal for the Tigers, only to dislocate his knee in the process, ending his promising season right then and there. After a lengthy delay as the medical cart stretched Knights from the ground, Richmond controlled the tempo so as not to allow a run on by Port coming into half time. The strategy paid off handsomely when Port skipper Travis Boak made a howler of an error, gifting an interception to Daniel Jackson across the Tigers half-forward line. Jackson chipped to McGuane who handballed to an unattended Dustin Martin in the goal square as Richmond extended their lead to 42 points heading into the main break.
As expected, Port came out firing in the third quarter with Jay Schulz scoring the first two goals. The first ten minutes belonged to the Power players but they failed to convert their advantage on the scoreboard after Schulz’s initial onslaught. Some slick work from Ivan Maric and Jake King resulted in a nice goal from King as the Tigers steadied the ship, before Port squandered another chance to get back into the contest. Deledio continued to dominate the midfield battle and he found a loose Shaun Grigg who waltzed into goal to extend the Tiger lead beyond 40 points. Despite breaking even in contested footy in the third quarter, the Power continued to lack polish in front of goal. No such trouble at the other end as Grigg notched another for a Richmond team prepared to answer every Port challenge. As the clock ticked down to the final break, a strong McGuane mark and goal had the Tiger lead out to 50 points.
Just as the contest appeared to be fizzling out into a comfortable Tiger victory, the Power came alive. An early goal to Kane Mitchell was quickly followed by a Wingard mark and goal. When Matthew Broadbent skidded one through from a tight angle just two minutes later, Port Adelaide had the crowd salivating for another famous comeback. The Tigers had held steady all day and they repeated the dosage with a solid mark and goal to Newman at the six minute mark. Any thoughts of a famous Port victory were snuffed out when Riewoldt kicked his fifth goal of the afternoon to blow the margin back out to 44 points. Goals to Mitchell for Port - after a leg break which would have made Australian cricketing legend Shane Warne proud - and another to King completed the major scoring for the game as the Tigers cruised to a 41 point win.
Deledio and Martin were outstanding for Richmond in the absence of Cotchin while youngsters Ellis and Vlastuin showed plenty of promise for the years ahead. The outside run of the Tigers could not be stopped by Port, with Richmond leading the marks by a whopping 117 to 54 in the first three quarters. For Port, a lot of old bad habits appeared with their kicking efficiency well down on their first five weeks of work. Schulz worked hard in attack while Wingard showed flashes of brilliance for Port Adelaide. The Tigers will look to improve to 5-3 with a match up against the beleaguered Melbourne next week, while Port Adelaide has the tough task of defeating Carlton if it is to avoid three losses in a row.
Scoreboard Richmond: 8.2 11.5 15.6 18.6 (114) Port Adelaide: 2.1 4.5 6.10 10.13 (73) Best Players: Richmond: Deledio, Martin, Riewoldt, Stephenson, Ellis, Newman, Vlastuin Port Adelaide: Boak, Schulz, Wingard, Mitchell, Carlile, Redden
Article last changed on Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 7:20 PM EDT