In Round 8, Richmond returned to the scene of last season’s 57 point Elimination Final debacle, determined to put up a better fight against a Port Adelaide team yet to find its best form in 2015. Although the game was to be a celebration of retiring Port legend Kane Cornes on his 300th and final game in front of a home crowd of more than 45,000 fans, it was the Tigers who burst out of the blocks early with a Jake Batchelor goal at the seven minute mark. Port players were being denied the space they crave for their free-running game as Richmond piled on the pressure with fierce tackling and an uncompromising attack on the ball. Jack Riewoldt found Brett Deledio right on the 50 meter arc at the 16 minute mark and Deledio did the rest, sending a towering kick through the goals to give Richmond a handy 19 point lead at quarter time. In a massive turnaround from when the teams last met, Port failed to kick a goal in the first quarter and the home fans grew restless with the slow start.
Cornes was doing a great job on Tiger Captain Trent Cotchin but Port failed to curb the influence of the highly skilled Deledio and up-and-comer Brandon Ellis. Power fans finally had something to cheer about when Chad Wingard marked and goaled for his team’s first of the day. The Power was getting on top early in the second quarter but despite having command of the football, forwards struggled to score as the Richmond backline held firm. The Tigers were rewarded with two quick goals to Riewoldt who was playing an excellent game switching between the midfield and the forward line. Angus Monfries hit back with a goal but the Tigers struck again with some strong work from Dustin Martin in the goal square. Overall Port were gaining the ascendancy after a Robbie Gray goal, but two horror misses from the usually reliable Jay Schulz and Chad Wingard from less than 20 meters out had the Port supporters shaking their heads in disbelief. The easy misses would come back to haunt Port Adelaide as a late snapshot goal from big Tiger Ben Griffiths gave the visitors a handy 23 point lead at the main break. It wasn’t all good news for Richmond as in-form forward Ty Vickery had to be subbed out of the game with what looked to be a nasty knee injury. Second gamer Connor Menadue would take Vickery’s place for the rest of the contest.
The third quarter was a stark contrast to what would normally be seen on a dry day at Adelaide Oval with hard, tough, one-on-one footy the order of the day. The Tigers stuck religiously to their game plan of shutting down the Port Power running game. Richmond did not trouble the scorers at all for the entire quarter. However some disciplined defensive pressure from Alex Rance, Bachar Houli and Batchelor meant Port did not get easy shots on goal despite having the ball in their forward line for almost the entire quarter. Monfries finally broke the goal drought at the 11 minute mark of the quarter, but consistent pressure from the Tigers continued to frustrate the Power. They failed to register another goal, adding one goal four points in total for the quarter despite entering their own 50 meter area 14 times. At the final break, Richmond held onto a 13 point lead and it was anyone’s game.
The all-important first goal of the quarter went once again to Richmond’s Riewoldt, his third of the game, and when youngster Connor Menadue converted a free kick from just inside the 50 he was surrounded by Tiger players congratulating him on his first AFL goal. The upset looked likely as Port seemed bereft of ideas to break through the Tigers' disciplined, close checking brand of football. A 14th minute goal to Wingard gave the home fans some hope of a fairy-tale ending to Cornes’ career, but the Tigers were having none of it as Riewoldt bullocked his way toward goal before being taken down by an injured Jackson Trengove with an illegal tackle. Riewoldt calmly slotted goal number four and the Power bubble looked well and truly burst. Some more slick midfield work from Richmond finished with a running goal to the valuable Shane Edwards and the game was well and truly in the Tigers keeping as they ran out 33 point winners.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick would have been ecstatic with the commitment shown by his players for a full four quarters, and despite being kept scoreless for an entire quarter, they never wavered from their game plan. While Cotchin was well held by the retiring Cornes, Deledio, Miles, Ellis and Martin were all excellent midfield contributors for the Tigers who vaulted themselves up the ladder into eighth position. For Port Adelaide, it was another troubling performance for a team that was touted pre-season as the most likely to challenge Hawthorn for the AFL title. Coach Ken Hinkley now has the challenge ahead of him at 3-5 to resurrect Port’s ailing season. With midfielder Ollie Wines having a solid return from his broken wrist, Hinkley will have no excuses not to get back in the winner’s circle after three losses in a row. A game against an indifferent Melbourne Demons in Round 9 should give Port a solid chance to do just that.
Scoreboard: Port Adelaide 0.3 3.6 4.10 5.13 (43) Richmond 3.4 7.5 7.5 11.10 (76) Best Players: Port Adelaide: Wingard, Cornes, R.Gray, Wines, Boak, Hombsch Richmond: Deledio, B.Ellis, Miles, Riewoldt, Maric, Rance
Article last changed on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 6:17 AM EDT