Are theTigers learning lessons from the past

Cast your minds back to round 10 of last year. Port Adelaide were a basket case while Richmond had just defeated the Bombers and were humming along nicely, having won four of their past five matches. The result of this Tiger v Power match was considered a ‘fait accompli’. Richmond had sold this home game to Darwin’s Marrarra Oval, a ground that Port has frequented in recent years, yet this did little to make punters give the Power a chance.

Port won. Richmond’s bubble burst and the Tigers went on to ingloriously lower their colours to new boys the Gold Coast later in the year, another Richmond home game played in the sunnier clime for money’s sake. Richmond finished the year with a bit of a run, yet looked back and rued these two matches where they ‘lost the unlosable’.

Fast forward 12 months and Port took on Richmond again, though the climate was more wintery than last year’s encounter. It wasn’t as clear cut a contest as the previous year, though the Tiges went in favourites, both teams sat with 1 win and 4 losses, not reflective of the competitiveness both teams had shown.

This time Richmond won. Comfortably. The margin of 37 points could and should have been far greater, but in comparison with last year’s unexpected loss, I’ll take comfort in the fact that thus far in season 2012, Richmond has won the matches that they should. Baby steps, yes, but important steps all the same. While the first quarter was a struggle in windy conditions, Richmond appeared to edge Port in class. Yet the game was still tight, Richmond holding a narrow lead which perhaps should have been greater with the wind at their backs.

What followed was a rout, a rout that I hadn’t seen coming. I’m sure Port coach Matthew Primus hadn’t detected it either. To compare Port’s efforts in the second quarter with Fitzroy in their final season would be an insult to the Royboys. They at least had a crack, and a young Primus was central to that. If only some of the Fitzroy spirit had been imparted from coach to player, for this was dismal.

Port had just 2 inside 50’s for the quarter. Two. A goal in the first minute or two, and the second entry consisted of the ball rolling a metre into Port’s 50 metre arc with 10 seconds remaining. It was truly horrendous.

I’d rarely had such confidence in Richmond’s ability to snatch the ball back off their opponents within seconds of them getting their hands on it. I just knew that every Port kick would fall in the hands of a Tuck or a Foley, and be propelled back into the Tigers attacking zone. Richmond kicked 5.5 into the wind, it really should have been an 8 goal quarter at the least, such was our dominance, but I was comfortable going into half time with a 41 point buffer. It was the kind of quarter where you wished the siren would never sound, there’s no way in the world that Port could perform so poorly in quarters 3 and 4.

Quarter three started with the out of form Riewoldt, of the Jack variety, opening the second half just as he’d opened the first, with a major. Importantly, he kicked his set shot from a strong mark from behind, and the margin had crept out to 47 points.

Then the inevitable happened. Port got on a roll. You knew they would. Deledio, so dominant in the first half was well held as the Power whittled the lead down, getting first hands on the ball at contests, much as Richmond had been doing. I never actually felt that we would lose the match but I was so angry, even livid, that we let Port back into the contest. Composure is what I’m looking for this year, and an ability to stem the flow of opposition goals, a massive problem for us last year.

Richmond’s lead was now down in the twenty-somethings as the final term began, but it didn’t take long for the match to feel safe. Deledio got his mojo back and Martins strength in the contest was a real highlight. And finally, the forward line began to function better after one of the talls, the horribly out of form Vickery, was subbed off wounded, both in body and mind.

Riewoldt began to play in front, the crumbers Nahas and Jakey King positioned beneath him, and the Tiges soon put the result in the book. Jack turned a relatively quiet day into a four goal game, which included the near decapitation of a goal umpire from close range.

But this victory rode on the back of the workhorses. Ivan Maric was huge, both in physical size and his impact on the game. How we have longed for a big bustling, slightly mad ruckman to impose himself on a game. Once again Shane Tuck was his usual self, he plays within his means and is mightily effective at it, while sixth gamer Steve Morris gave his all in every contest. He desperately wanted to win. Morris will surely be subbed off with concussion before this year is out, such is his courage.

Robbie Nahas, while appearing slightly flashy at times, ran like a madman and tackled and pressured all day long. His three goals were testament to work rate. And lastly, Alex Rance, with more courage than a red head has freckles, celebrated his 50th match with a trademark display of courage, athleticism, dash, and the odd mistake.

Carn the Tiges

Port Adelaide 8.6.54

Richmond 13.13.91

Crowd: 18,552 at Football Park

About John Carr

First and foremost, I'm a Richmondite- 5th generation and dyed in the wool. I love the club, but also have a love for the game itself, and love to explore the cultural and social aspects of Australian Rules football. I am married with 4 kids, and also have a love of music, and run a small recording studio http://theholybootsfootballemporium.wordpress.com/

Comments

  1. Stainless says:

    John
    An excellent summary of the game.

    The comparison with last year’s Darwin disaster is spot-on. I think Richmond’s performances this year can be best described as “honest”, which is in stark contrast to previous seasons. If that honesty continues, the next few weeks should make for some very interesting viewing.

    The third quarter lapse was a concern. The umpires gifted Port a couple of goals which briefly made it look like everything was starting to run their way. However, they never really appeared to have any consistent avenues to goal. Jack’s early goal in the last quarter quickly settled the nerves.

    You’re right about it being a win manufactured by the workhorses. On a drizzly, windy day, Deledio was probably the only player who regularly displayed A-grade quality. Nahas showed a great return to form after being obliterated the previous week, and “Push-up” also helps give the forward line variety (and energy).

    I’m loving Morris’s performances, particularly after hearing Mick Malthouse’s comments about him during the Melbourne game. He basically said he was not big enough, fast enough or skilled enough to be useful in Richmond’s defence. Ironic, given the type of player Mick was.

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