Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from AAMI Stadium, Adelaide
Overcast conditions and a steady drizzle greeted the visiting Richmond Tigers as they ran onto a pristine AAMI Stadium surface to face the Port Adelaide Power. With both teams sporting an equally precarious 1-4 record, the importance of a win and the prized four Premiership points could not be understated. The home fans were buoyed by a strong Port performance a week earlier at the same venue when a late fade out cost them a win against their arch rival Adelaide Crows, while Tiger fans could point to narrow losses against League pacesetters the West Coast Eagles and Geelong Cats as evidence of solid improvement.
Port Adelaide went into the game with Darren Pfeiffer as their substitute while Richmond green vested Shane Edwards, returning from a week on the sidelines through injury. The unique AAMI train-style siren sounded in front of a disappointing crowd to signal the start of an important game for both teams. A scrappy first couple of minutes saw positive moves for both teams let down by poor delivery into their respective forward lines. Ex-Collingwood midfielder John McCarthy had the chance to register the first goal but pushed his long shot wide for a behind. It was then Richmond’s turn to mount a forward thrust and a poor defensive error by the home team allowed the scrappy Shane Tuck to dish the ball out in the direction of Jack Riewoldt, who calmly soccered through the first goal of the game. The slippery conditions kept the contest tight while also leading to numerous turnovers of possession. Richmond had the better of the clearances with Brett Deledio doing most of the damage for the Tigers. After a couple of missed chances at each end, the returning Jake “ the push-up” King won a free kick for a high tackle deep inside the Tiger forward line. King converted and the Tigers were out to an 11 point lead. Another Richmond clearance, this time by Ivan Maric, sent the ball towards Robin Nahas who in turn banged it forward. The ensuing scramble saw Tiger forward Brad Miller get enough boot on the ball to send it through and stretch the Richmond lead to 17 points. It wasn’t until the 22 minute mark that Port finally broke through, as Matthew Broadbent converted a solid kick from around 50 meters out. At quarter time Richmond led by an even two goals, mainly due to the influence of Maric in the ruck and around the ground, while Deledio and Tuck had the better of the midfield duel over their Port counterparts.
Ex-Hawthorn ruckman Brent Renouf had a chance to bring the margin closer just two minutes into the second quarter, and he didn’t let the home fans down. A dead straight kick for Port’s second goal had the crowd up and the margin was down to six points. The news wasn’t all good for the Power as Cam Hitchcock had not returned to the field after quarter time, having been subbed off with a hamstring injury. Just as it looked like Port were fighting to tie the game up, some woeful defensive checking allowed Richmond to march the ball down field. An unmarked Chris Newman floated down from defense to take a mark just 40 meters from goal, where he converted the shot to reinstate the Tigers 12 point buffer. From then on, Richmond piled on the pressure, dominating the contests at ground level and tackling relentlessly to keep the ball in their forward half. The hard work was not rewarded as Dustin Martin and Maric both missed attempts on goal. At the 14 minute mark, all of the play had been in the Tiger forward line yet they could not get goals on the board. The continuing pressure finally claimed a scalp as Paul Stewart was caught holding the ball by Robbie Nahas 30 meters out from goal. Nahas, who was really starting to have an influence on the game, finished the job by goaling for the Tigers. The Nahas goal opened the floodgates for the Tigers as King followed with another goal at the 17 minute mark. Just minutes later yet another defensive mix up by the Power allowed Deledio to slip in and crumb a spilled mark. Deledio, who seemed to be running around the park like a runaway dog, put through another Tiger goal and the lead blew out to 34 points. Another Nahas goal before half-time extended the advantage to 41 points, potentially an unassailable lead in the conditions. The second quarter had been completely dominated by the young Tigers, and a quick check of the statistics showed they had entered their 50 meter arc an incredible 19 times to just two for Port Adelaide. Port coach Matthew Primus left the coaches' box looking like a kid who had just dropped his last Peanut Butter Cup in the sandpit.
Growing anger at the insipid second quarter display by their team was evident among the Port fans and, as the third quarter got underway, they were demanding a better effort from the Black, White and Teal. Unbelievably, inside the first minute of the restart the Tigers got the ball to Jack Riewoldt who goaled to inflict further pain on the locals as the margin blew out to 47 points. To their credit Port did fight back and the game became more of a contest. A free kick in a marking contest was awarded to Daniel Stewart even though it appeared both Stewart and his Tiger opponent Dylan Grimes had equal hold of the other. Stewart made no mistake and the Tiger flow of goals had been stemmed. The contingent of Richmond fans started to get a little vocal as another free plus a 50 meter penalty was awarded to Port’s Ben Jacobs. The gifted goal had the margin back to 35 points before Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt missed a chance to steady the ship, pulling his goal attempt wide to the left. At the 16 minute mark a wobbly kick into the Port forward line by Hamish Hartlett fortuitously landed in the arms of Power forward John Butcher, who put another six-pointer on the board for Port. With the Tigers' lead reduced to five goals, Ty Vickery was subbed out of the match with a leg injury and was replaced by Shane Edwards. Port’s Brad Ebert was starting to make some inroads into the early Tiger center dominance and big Renouf was competing hard. Another free kick within scoring range to Renouf gave the Power fans a reason to raise the roof, and when his kick sailed right between the goalposts the Power had pegged back the lead to a manageable 23 points. That margin increased to 24 by three quarter time and it was Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s turn to look a little pale as the game was now in the balance. While the Tigers had competed hard after dominating the second quarter, the Power did all of the scoring in the third to set things up for an interesting final quarter.
Richmond had the advantage of kicking towards what had been the dominant scoring end, though there didn’t seem to be much wind to factor into the equation. The railway siren sounded for the start of the final quarter as Power fans urged their team to continue the fight back. Tiger fans were desperate to see their team register the first goal to give them some breathing space. Maric had battled manfully all day for Richmond and he continued to give first use of the ball to the Tiger midfield. Martin and Nahas looked the most likely to run the game out and four minutes into the last quarter, the volume of possession by the Tigers was too much for Port to handle. A loose ball was fed out to Riewoldt who nailed a low trajectory goal right into the goal umpires face! As Jack apologized to the umpire, he regained his feet with a smile on his face, before signalling an all-important goal for the Tigers. Port had to goal next to stay in touch and David Rodan was working overtime to make some inroads into the forward line. End to end footy was the order of the quarter as both defenses refused to give up cheap goals. Port was doing well to keep the ball in their forward line and forced the ball through traffic to a waiting Aaron Young who pegged a goal back for the Power. Off the ensuing ball-up, the Tigers ran the ball to the half-forward line where Reece Conca threw himself on the ball. An errant knee copped him in the head and he was seeing stars. As Conca left the arena, play resumed but neither team could gain the ascendancy. A nice cameo from Nathan Foley worked the ball forward for Richmond before a pinpoint pass found Riewoldt on the chest. Riewoldt kicked his fourth goal and the Tigers looked home. At the 19 minute mark Conca, who miraculously had made his way back onto the ground, snapped a beauty over his shoulder and the Tiger lead was stretched to 39 points. A freakish goal to Nahas, who seems to save his best for games in Adelaide, put the icing on the cake and Richmond was home. A goal on the siren to Port through Broadbent brought the final margin back to 37 points.
The Tigers would have been pleased to register their second win of the season after some honorable losses to Finals contenders. Their midfield continues to stack up well against the best in the competition while their back line is young but improving. If Jack Riewoldt can find some consistency in the forward line, Richmond could potentially challenge for a spot in the Finals. For Port, they simply turned the ball over too often and without their prime forward target Jay Schulz, could not find enough winners in the forward line.
Richmond will next face perennial League powerhouse the Sydney Swans at the MCG, while Port will lick their wounds before facing a very tough road trip to Perth to play the Fremantle Dockers.
Scoreboard Port Adelaide: 1.2 2.2 6.4 8.6 (54) Richmond: 3.2 8.7 9.10 13.13 (91) Best Players Port Adelaide: Ebert, Hartlett, Jacobs, Cassisi, Renouf, Boak Richmond: Maric, Deledio, Tuck, Rance, Nahas, Morris, King
Article last changed on Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 6:27 AM EDT