Round 18 – St Kilda v Richmond: A Quiet Storm

St Kilda v Richmond

7:50PM, Friday July 20

Docklands Stadium

 

 

 

Outside, the weather is changeable. Rain threatens but rarely falls. All day, the sun has made brief appearances before hiding behind another heavy cloud, showing no interest in our affairs. As the darkness of night envelops us, the temperature heads south faster than a Mexican drug runner across the Rio Grande.

 

Inside, under the characterless colourbond roof of Docklands Stadium, a quiet storm is brewing. Lightning flashes and thunder claps as powerful bodies crash into each other to commence another big game. A pack forms and the spindly figure of an umpire sprawls onto the ground before quickly regaining his feet and resuming his work. Organisation and crisp disposal are nowhere to be seen as the ball is propelled into Richmond’s forward line. There is a stoppage, followed by a lucky free kick and the Tigers have their first, courtesy of their reigning Brownlow Medallist.

 

As play resumes, it is clear that the boys from Punt Road are keen to wrap this one up early. They swarm and smother their hapless opponents and it isn’t long before Jack Riewoldt has another. They do not let up and the Saints’ pride is spared only by a couple of near misses, before they finally hit back with a major of their own.

 

Several Tigers play well in this opening quarter. Their captain sets the tone with his committed attack on the ball.  Midfield dynamo, Dion Prestia, showing no sign of the injuries that have kept him on the sidelines for months, is clean with his disposal and uncompromising in his attack on the ball.  Down back, Rance, Grimes, and Vlastuin are impassable, winning the ball back time and again.  Each time they lay claim to it, the impressive Jayden Short glides past like a graceful gazelle, receiving and distributing. His kicking is a delightful treat.

 

Most of all, the Sultan of Swerve is back to his brutal best. He carves through St Kilda’s defence like forged steel through butter. He plays like he wields a shining scimitar with exquisite skill, perfect passes slicing the defence to shreds. On the back of this most welcome return to form, the Tigers open up a handy lead at the first break.

 

They say that the really good teams like to put their opponents away early, that they will switch on quickly and keep the opposition off-balance until they open up a match-winning lead, before coasting home, one eye on this game and the other looking forward to more important games that will follow. This is exactly what happens tonight. Riewoldt, freed up from the clutches of Jake Carlisle, runs amuck and has three goals by half-time.  At this point in the season, Kane Lambert might well be leading the race for this year’s Jack Dyer Medal.  He continues his good form tonight.

 

St Kilda try hard to stem the flow.  When they win the ball back they try to keep it, repeatedly switching the play from one side of the oval to the other, employing a tactic that has been successful in each of the Tigers’ losses this year. Is the theory: If you mark the ball, refuse to play on, switch with a short kick to someone else who marks, stops, also refuses to invite pressure, and repeats, then somehow you will blunt Richmond’s greatest strength? If it is, that tactic will bear no fruit tonight.  Richmond’s defence happily allows the Saints to overpossess the ball but shuts down any forward thrusts.  When the skills inevitably fail, a fighting fury of fearsome Tigers pounce on their opponents. Of course, they are led by their enigmatic talisman, their Pharoah of the Fend-off, their Lord of the Dance.  A comfortable lead is established by half-time. Surely this is what Richmond were planning to do right from the first bounce?

 

It is a testament to St Kilda’s commitment that they are able to dent the effectiveness of their more fancied opponents as they enter the arena, recommitted to the second half. Jack Steven commences a comeback of sorts with an inspirational goal. Their fans come to life, finally they have something to celebrate. From this point on, the scoring dries up.  One team is in damage control mode, holding possession for as long as it can, forcing the other team to wrench it away. The other team is in preservation mode, nine or ten goals to the good, care factor down to zero.

 

Richmond take the opportunity to give their better players lengthy spells on the bench. At various times during the second half, I find myself wondering if Lambert or Cotchin are injured, as they are not seen on the ground for ages. Toby Nankervis, Richmond’s redoubtable lone hand ruckman, spends a huge chunk of the last quarter sitting on the pine. In his absence, Shaun Grigg, Callum Moore, Riewoldt, and Josh Caddy continue to carry out their coach’s Dark Ruck Experiment with, one has to say, surprisingly decent results. If Bozo the Clown, complete with red nose and clown shoes, was available for selection, I’m sure Hardwick would use him as his second ruckman, such is his apparent disdain for the craft.

 

The quiet storm is over.  All is calm once again.  A big crowd awaits at the MCG.

 

 

 

ST KILDA          1.2   2.3    5.7        8.9   (57)
RICHMOND     6.4   11.7  14.10   16.15   (111)

GOALS

St Kilda: Membrey 2, Gresham 2, Marshall, Armitage, Steven, Weller
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Prestia 3, Caddy 2, Martin, Rioli, Higgins, Cotchin, Lambert, Grigg, Edwards

BEST

St Kilda: Ross, Steele, Steven, Gresham, Geary
Richmond: Prestia, Martin, Rance, Riewoldt, Short, Lambert

 

Crowd: 36,269

 

 

 

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time!

Comments

  1. G’day Joe,

    I was at the game and disappointed with the loss and bad ball uses by the Saints. Your Tigers were too good and skilled.

    But I didn’t regret to attend the MRV match. I am proud to be there for Maddie and be a part of the big fund raising match.

    I learned the atmosphere of footy and enjoyed the company at the game.

    Cheers

    Yoshi

  2. Stainless says:

    Joe
    I sometimes have to pinch myself that I can be watching my Tigers with such an absence of anxiety about the result. I reckon I last had this luxury in 1982. Spent most of the second half talking with my son about his new washing machine and, in the context of Maddie’s Match, about medical research.

    There did appear to be a clear resolve to get the job done early and this was also reflected in the VFL result where we kicked 9.5 to 0.0 in the first quarter. The competitive pressure from our depth is having a telling effect methinks.

    Next week will reveal a lot about where this season’s heading. No idle chit-chat in the stands on Saturday that’s for sure!

  3. Jarrod_L says:

    It was such a weird sensation after last year’s corresponding game – which was my first live game of AFL in almost 2 years & one I seriously considered departing from at half time.

    Glad to see Dusty back to something like last year’s form, some of his kicks were breathtakingly precise.

    Looking forward to next week!

  4. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks Yoshi. Glad you got to experience the atmosphere. Hang in, your Saints will have their day.

    Stainless, we have discussed this before. Even last week in Sydney my feeling was that we had it covered and I wasn’t even that fussed when we lost. Strange days.

    Jarrod, funny game footy. The turnaround from first half last year to first half this year is staggering. How can you predict what is going to happen on a week to week basis? The player you mention has transcended his name for me, it is unnecessary to ever speak it again. The challenge is now to come up with more ridiculous descriptors where it is obvious who I am talking about. I might even try to come up with a Prince-style symbol for him.

  5. Jarrod_L says:

    He sure is an artist with Sherrin in hand, I’ll give you that. Maybe something based on his ink?

  6. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, Jarrod. There is plenty to work with.

  7. Boy I love the Tigers being good. I’m still not used to it though.

    I love your Dark Ruck Experiment concept. Bring on the Pies next weekend.

  8. Joe De Petro says:

    It is our reward for putting up with years of them being bad, Gill.

    Dark Ruck Ops is becoming a real thing, Gill. They contributed to Geelong beating Melbourne on the weekend.

  9. Stephanie Holt says:

    “Sultan of Swerve” – love it. As a Saints fan, it was a funny feeling to find myself watching him from the special viewpoint up on Level 3 – impossible to not admire and find it thrilling, then remembering it was my team he was helping destroy!

    Lovely write-up.

  10. Joe De Petro says:

    Thanks Stephanie.

    Yeah, “The Sultan of Swerve” is my favourite description for him. (So far).

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