On a warm, blustery Adelaide Sunday afternoon, footy fans descended on Adelaide Oval hoping to witness a tantalising contest. The visitors, Richmond, were on a roll, having won nine games in a row to somehow steal a spot in the Final Eight. An incredible number of Richmond fans had made the journey from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and even as far as Europe. There must have been 10,000 rabid Tiger fans in full voice prior to the game. They would be quickly silenced once the game was underway. Port Adelaide, having stumbled somewhat after an incredible start to the season that saw them top of the table, had regained their mojo. More importantly, they had regained their two key back men in Alipate Carlisle and Jackson Trengove.
Both teams had fans marching to the oval - the Tigers from the Adelaide Railway station, Port from Rundle Mall. It was quite a sight. With both sets of supporters engaged in plenty of pre-game banter - mostly good spirited - there was a feeling of the old Adelaide Oval in its footy heyday, a full house of fans with the most beautiful backdrop of any stadium in Australia.
Richmond won the toss and captain Trent Cotchin inexplicably chose to kick against what seemed to be a stiff breeze at ground level. This decision proved fatal for the visiting Tigers. An awful Dylan Grimes kick resulted in Justin Westhoff happily feeding off the resulting turnover and kicking the first goal of the game for Port. Another horrible kick by the Tigers resulted in Port’s third goal in ten minutes as Jack Hombsch must have thought he had accidentally put on a Richmond guernsey as the Tiger pass hit him right on the chest. Within 17 minutes, the game was effectively over as a contest, with Port piling on seven goals without a reply.
Tiger fans were shell-shocked, Port fans ebullient. Port was ruthless in its attack on the ball, while Richmond players looked timid and out of synch. When Richmond attacked, they turned the ball over as Port players read the conditions far better. Maybe the Tiger forwards refused to believe the wind was so strong, but time after time they were caught behind their Port opponents. Power captain Travis Boak was dominating for Port Adelaide, racking up clearances and giving his speedy outside runners first use of the football. At quarter time the Power led by a whopping 42 points, and there seemed no way back for Richmond.
The Tigers failed to gain ground with the wind in the second quarter, and the extension of their run of not winning a Final since 2001 was signed, sealed and delivered as Robbie Gray, Jake Neade and Chad Wingard dominated up forward. Facing a half time deficit of 69 points, it looked like the Tigers may suffer a record breaking defeat at the hands of a rampaging Port Power.
Although the second half was less than enthralling viewing, Richmond maintained the status quo due mainly to Port players looking ahead to next week and cruising to victory. The relentless early barrage was simply too much for a Richmond team that had possibly used up all its energy in the miraculous run to the Finals.
Despite the hard work of first year Tiger Anthony Miles and cameos from Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin, there was too much left to too little for the visitors when it counted. Port fans couldn’t have asked for a more complete performance. All over the ground the Power players were composed and classy, leaving the hapless Tigers in their wake. The Power will head west to take on Fremantle next week with plenty of confidence, the Dockers also with injury concerns heading into the Semi-Final clash.
One had to feel for the Tiger fans that had bussed, hitched, planed, trained and automobiled to see their team completely obliterated when it mattered most. Port Adelaide fans on the other hand enjoyed one of their greatest days in the AFL since their famous Premiership in 2004. This time it was in their own backyard, on a sunny day, at the most beautiful football venue in the country.
Scoreboard: Port Adelaide 8.1 14.5 19.8 20.12 (132) Richmond 1.1 3.2 6.5 11.9 (75) Best Players: Port Adelaide: Boak, Westhoff, Neade, Carlile, Gray, Wingard Richmond: Miles, Deledio, Maric, Rance
Article last changed on Friday, September 12, 2014 - 6:59 AM EDT