Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
Richmond headed to the MCG looking to climb back into the Top Eight after their Round 11 bye. The Adelaide Crows, fresh off a 77 point belting at the hands of a rampaging Sydney Swans, were keen to make amends and show the fans they were still in the hunt for a Finals berth. In the past Adelaide has had the wood over the Tigers winning six of their past eight encounters. However the return of young guns Brandon Ellis and Reece Conca had the bookmakers installing Richmond as the favorites to win over a determined Adelaide outfit.
As the teams lined up it was noted that prolific ball winner Brett Deledio was left unmanned as the spare man in the Richmond defense, a curious move by Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson who instead sent his spare man to the midfield. The Tigers were up and about early and, after a tight scrap in the first five minutes of play, it was Richmond Captain Trent Cotchin who broke the shackles, kicking the game’s first goal with a classy snap out of the pack. Ian Callinan returned the favor for the Crows at the 11 minute mark but the Tigers looked to have settled better, Deledio turning defense into attack on numerous occasions as he was left unattended. Jack Riewoldt kicked his first for the day and shortly after it was a rampaging Dustin Martin who added a third for the Tigers. The Crows were not handling the physical pressure well, turning the ball over with uncharacteristic skill errors by foot. Josh Jenkins did manage an Adelaide goal at the 21 minute mark, but the respite was short lived as Riewoldt received a free resulting in a Richmond goal to stretch the margin to 13 points in the shadows of quarter time. With little time remaining, some individual brilliance from Reiwoldt kept the ball in play along the boundary line where Martin brushed off Rutten and snapped a magnificent goal. At quarter time the Tigers held a 19 point lead.
Surprisingly the second quarter commenced in the same vein as the first with Deledio remaining unmanned across half back. Richmond wasted no time in going forward, the Tiger midfield getting first hands on the ball as the Crows continued to chase their opponents all over the expanses of the MCG. Richmond did not capitalize on its all out attack with misses to Riewoldt and Shaun Grigg in the early going. At the seven minute mark, ex-skipper Chris Newman launched a perfect set shot for a goal with young gun Ellis repeating the dosage within a minute. Patrick Dangerfield was doing his best to stem the Tiger tide, throwing himself into contests and getting plenty of the footy. At the 14 minute mark, Tom Lynch goaled for Adelaide to keep them in touch, before Jason Porplyzia also goaled to give the Crows' fans something to shout about. Just as Adelaide was gaining momentum, it was Ellis again goaling for the Tigers to maintain control of the game for Richmond. A five minute burst from the prolific Dangerfield saw him in everything, first missing a shot before receiving a handball in the goal square and banging through an easy goal. With the margin at less than four goals and half time approaching, Adelaide coach Sanderson would have been livid as a free kick was awarded to Reiwoldt after he ducked into a tackle. Reiwoldt went back and banged through his third goal to give Richmond a handy 27 point lead at the long break. Martin, Ellis and Deledio were the prime movers for the Tigers while Dangerfield was playing a lone hand for the struggling Crows.
In the third quarter the party finally ended for Deledio as Adelaide finally decided to make him accountable by sending captain Nathan Van Berlo to man him up. The Crows came out looking hungrier, matching the Tigers' intensity around the contests and tackling with ferocity. Lynch had the chance to get the Crows away to a dream start in the second half but his set shot was wide right for just a minor score. Ellis and Van Berlo both missed for their respective sides before the rangy Shaun Grigg nailed the all-important first goal of the half for the Tigers. Dangerfield, still playing quite a game for the Crows, had a chance to bring one back for his team but instead missed his shot to keep the Tigers comfortably ahead midway through the term. When Dustin Martin goaled at the 14 minute mark, things were looking good for the Tigers and along with it their chances of climbing back into the Top Eight. Desperate tackling and harassing by Richmond nullified any run the Crows tried to muster, but it was their turn to bag a late one as Jenkins received and goaled to keep the game alive at three quarter time. Deledio's influence was finally quelled and Dangerfield continued to star for the visiting Crows. He was the one man looking likely to put a spanner into the Tigers chances of holding on to victory.
Just 45 seconds into the last quarter and the Crows goaled after a solid contested mark to Scott Thompson. After overrunning the Kangaroos a couple of weeks before from 30 points down, the Crows had a right to believe they could do it again. Richmond, desperate to keep the game under control, went forward with a sensational center clearance by Dustin Martin who delivered to Ty Vickery on the lead. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Vickery could not convert and the gate remained open for the Crows to sneak through if they were good enough. A scramble in the Adelaide goal square saw the ball end up with Van Berlo who snapped high and through for a goal! Tiger fans moved uneasily in their seats as the margin was back to 19 points with 25 minutes still to play.
Richmond teams of the past may have gone into their shell but the prime movers on this occasion continued to work hard. Big Ivan Maric snatched the ball from a ruck contest in the forward line and snapped a beautiful opportunist goal, releasing some pressure and firing the home crowd up. The Adelaide comeback proved to be fool’s gold as a sensational kick from Tiger sub Matthew White found Jake King in the square. King goaled and the game as a contest was all but over. Edwards, Grigg and Martin added to Adelaide’s pain before late goals to Jenkins and Dangerfield (who was best on ground in a losing effort) saved the visitors from a second shellacking in a row. The final score saw the Tigers back into the Top Eight with a 38 point victory.
Richmond, on the back of solid wins against the West Coast Eagles and the Crows, has now set itself up for a possible Finals appearance for the first time since 2001. The midfield of Martin, Deledio, Ellis and Conca was instrumental in the win over Adelaide with some great cameos from Reiwoldt and Bachar Houli. For the struggling Crows, Dangerfield was magnificent. His attack on the ball and overall skill were a long way ahead of the rest of his team. Sloane and Thompson battled manfully, but were outclassed by a Richmond team hungry for success.
The Crows have a week off to lick their wounds and recharge the batteries in a last ditch attempt to claw their way back into Finals contention. Richmond faces the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in Round 13, an opportunity to solidify its place in the Top Eight and turn the dream of making it back to the Finals a reality.
Scoreboard Rinchmond: 5.2 9.7 11.10 16.14 (110) Adelaide: 2.1 5.4 6.10 10.12 (72) Best Players Richmond: Deledio, Riewoldt, Martin, Ellis, Conca, Chaplin, Houli Adelaide: Dangerfield, Sloane, Porplyzia, Thompson, Rutten
Article last changed on Friday, June 21, 2013 - 10:00 AM EDT