Round Ten's clash at Spotless Stadium between the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants and the Richmond Tigers would have been a major talking point in AFL media circles no matter the result. Richmond, struggling with a 2-6 record, found itself under massive media scrutiny all week, not only due to its ongoing poor form but also because key forward Jack Riewoldt had questioned Coach Damien Hardwick’s game plan in a press interview during the week. GWS players had been under pressure of their own, putting together a six game losing streak highlighted by a 111-point belting at the hands of the West Coast Eagles in Round Nine. To say both of these teams needed to win would be a massive understatement.
Richmond’s Brett Deledio, celebrating his 200th AFL game, led his team out onto Spotless Stadium, bathed in sunshine, in front of another disappointing local crowd of less than 9,000 fans. It took less than two minutes for Jack Riewoldt to make a statement after his tough week under the media spotlight. A Ben Lennon intercept resulted in a great pass to Riewoldt who kicked truly for the Tigers' first goal. Stephen Coniglio responded for the Giants a minute later, but there was bad news for Richmond as a big collision between reigning Tiger Best and Fairest winner Daniel Jackson and young Giants' power forward Jonathon Patton resulted in a severely corked thigh for Jackson. The Tiger warrior tried to remain in the game but would succumb to the injury at quarter time.
Ben Lennon, looking very composed for a two game player, delivered to Ty Vickery and the Tigers had their second goal right on the five minute mark of the first quarter. From then on, the game took an amazing turn. Richmond completely dominated proceedings, taking the game on and hitting targets while the Giants seemed content to play slow, defensive minded footy that played right into a fired up Richmond team's hands. The Tigers piled on six unanswered goals without a miss, including three more from a rampaging Riewoldt as a stunned home crowd looked on. At quarter time Richmond led by 37 points having kicked eight goals straight.
Nathan Foley replaced the injured Jackson and immediately had an impact, adding a ninth Richmond goal just one minute into the second quarter. Dustin Martin was running amok for Richmond, continually streaming out of defense while Shaun Hampson was surprisingly dominant against the highly rated GWS number one ruckman Shane Mumford. The next three goals all went to Riewoldt, one a sensational spin and goal that left his third GWS opponent dead in his tracks. Eleven minutes into the second quarter and Riewoldt was becoming quite the story with seven goals already to his name. While the Tigers attacked the ball the Giants looked timid in their approach, far too often leaving their direct opponents in a quest for cheap possessions. GWS coach Leon Cameron would have been beside himself as Richmond kicked six unanswered goals for the term - a total of 13 since the Giants' last goal - to set up a whopping half time lead of 74 points. GWS simply had no answers to the running of Martin, Deledio and Ellis while Dylan Shiel was seemingly playing a lone hand for the beleaguered Giants.
The small but vocal crowd would have been looking for some signs of fight from the Giants after half time, and the early returns suggested they might get what they desired. Rhys Palmer converted the first goal of the quarter for GWS and just two minutes later it was Jeremy Cameron - moved off Riewoldt to go back to his more familiar forward role - kicking the Giants' first consecutive goals for the game as they pegged the Tiger lead back a little. The GWS mini-comeback was short lived however as Richmond replied through a busy Bachar Houli. From then on the Tigers slipped back into attack mode. Riewoldt was simply unstoppable as he added goals 8,9,10 and 11 with Ben Griffiths notching his third and a prolific Brandon Ellis joining the party. The three quarter time scoreboard made sorrowful reading for GWS fans as the Tigers held sway by 103 points.
The final quarter was a lackluster affair with Richmond providing plenty of forward thrusts into the fifty meter arc but without the deadly finishing it had shown for the first three quarters. The Tigers added just three goals to the Giants two as the game petered out to its predictable conclusion with Riewoldt unable to add to his tally of 11 goals despite a couple of opportunities late in the quarter. The Tigers ran out 113 point victors, once again putting their fans back on the roller coaster ride that only Richmond fans can truly understand. One thing was certain - Jack Riewoldt had answered his critics and apologized to his coach and teammates in the best way possible - by leading his team to an emphatic and much needed victory. For the Giants, it was an abysmal performance from a team which had enjoyed a week off with the bye after receiving a similar 111-point smashing at the hands of the West Coast Eagles two weeks ago. A season that started with immense promise after a Round One victory over the much fancied Sydney Swans now lies in tatters with uncompetitive performances in recent weeks.
Giants' supporters may feel a bit queasy when they peek at the schedule for next week - to discover a meeting with reigning Premiers Hawthorn at the MCG. The Tigers must retain momentum if they are to entertain any thoughts of post-season action. They will take on Essendon in the “Dreamtime at the G” match, a celebration of Australian Indigenous culture and a match that never fails to see a massive build-up and a packed to the rafters MCG.
Scoreboard GWS Giants: 1.5 1.6 3.9 5.11 (41) Richmond: 8.0 14.2 21.4 24.10 (154) Best Players GWS Giants: Shiel, Coniglio, Hoskin-Elliott Richmond: Riewoldt, Hampson, Martin, Rance, Deledio, Houli, Cotchin, Ellis
Article last changed on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 9:06 AM EDT