What a difference a week makes. Richmond players and coaches traveled to Adelaide on a high after defeating premiership favorite Hawthorn, confident they could defeat an Adelaide Crows team that had been demoralized by the Sydney Swans just a week earlier. The Crows knew they had to win to keep their Finals hopes alive, while the Tigers' Top Four chances depended on a victory over the Crows in front of a sell-out Adelaide crowd.
Richmond received bad news on the eve of the big clash with the news that Brett Deledio - their four-goal hero against Hawthorn - would not take his place in the team due to a bad case of influenza. With Deledio missing, the onus was on Jack Riewoldt and Ty Vickery to produce enough goals to win against the hard running Crows.
A packed house under lights at the picturesque Adelaide Oval saw Richmond get the better of the play early, with ex-Crow Ivan Maric and Shaun Grigg registering the first two goals of the game for the visitors. Despite trailing on the scoreboard, the Crows were getting plenty of the footy but failed to convert their chances. Some smart work from Charlie Cameron had the home crowd roaring as he kicked the Crows first, but some brilliant play from Dustin Martin and Brandon Ellis restored the nine point buffer for Richmond as Ellis goaled. With time almost over in the first quarter, a sweet finish from Tom Lynch had the Crows trailing by just one point at the first break. Adelaide had the better of the quarter with Rory Sloane leading the way, but poor finishing in front of goal let the Tigers edge ahead against the run of play.
Taylor “Tex” Walker - playing a dominant game after being down on form through most of the season and against arguably the best defender in the competition, Tiger Alex Rance - kicked the first goal of the second quarter to put the Crows in front. A few minutes later some slick ruck work by Sam Jacobs led to Cameron’s second goal and Adelaide looked to build on their lead. The Richmond defense was standing firm as the Adelaide midfield dominated clearances all over the ground, mounting attack after attack. Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin converted rare Richmond chances to level the scores but once again the Crows scored a goal just prior to the siren sounding. This time it was Walker with his second of the game. Adelaide held a six point advantage at half time but the lead should have been much greater. The Crows had entered the 50 meter arc 36 times to just 17 for Richmond, but poor finishing and a hard-working Tiger defense combined to keep the scores close.
In the third quarter Richmond had to open with their substitute on the field as defender Dylan Grimes, clearly hampered by a leg injury in the first half, was replaced by Sam Lloyd. The Crows were like sharks circling their prey as they peppered the goals for most of the quarter, but their wayward kicking once again was their downfall, as they added four behinds straight. Martin, Richmond’s best, bobbed up again to goal for the Tigers at the 20 minute mark as the Tigers fought hard to stay in the contest. With just a six point lead, Josh Jenkins was the man to break the Adelaide goal drought, kicking not one but two goals within minutes of each other to finally shake off the Tigers. Richmond Coach Damien Hardwick would have been livid when the Tigers conceded their third late goal in as many quarters as Patrick Dangerfield added another for the Crows to give them a handy 26 point buffer at the final change. Jacobs, Scott Thompson, Walker and Dangerfield were proving too much for the Tigers to handle and, with a quarter to play, it looked like the Crows might steamroll a tired looking Richmond outfit in the final quarter.
The opening goal of the final quarter went to Richmond’s best player on the night as Martin kicked his third goal. On a night where Richmond’s tall forwards were completely outpointed, Martin stood tall and singlehandedly kept his side in the game. The Tiger fight back was short-lived however as Eddie Betts marked and goaled for Adelaide as the 50,000 plus crowd almost blew off the grandstand roof with their roar of approval. The Crows dominated clearances and inside 50’s throughout the night, eventually running out 36 point winners in a game that could have produced a much greater winning margin with more polished finishing in front of goal. It was a dominant display everywhere but on the scoreboard.
Stand-in Adelaide Coach Scott Camporeale would have been excited by the way his team performed after a dismal display in Sydney. The win puts Adelaide firmly back in the race for a Finals appearance, while the Tigers once again missed an opportunity to consolidate a spot in the Top Eight, making their last four games make or break. Next week the Crows face a struggling Essendon at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, while Richmond will look to bounce back against the Gold Coast Suns at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Scoreboard: Adelaide 2.6 5.8 8.16 11.22 (88) Richmond 3.1 5.2 6.2 8.4 (52) Best Players: Adelaide: Dangerfield, Thompson, Jacobs, Walker, Laird, Talia, Sloane Richmond: Martin, Hunt, Houli, Grigg, Miles
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 9:58 PM EDT