So here we were, on a warm autumn day, settling into seats on the lower deck of the Ponsford stand to be ready for Richmond to take on the highly fancied West Coast Eagles at the unusual game time of 2.10 pm on a Saturday afternoon. The MCG was bathed in sunshine and there was enough of a blustery wind to keep the players on their toes. This could get interesting.
To the surprise of many, Richmond had won the first two games of the season but still faced questions as to whether they were the real deal. Were the Tigers going to defy the expert tipsters’ expectations or was this to be a reality check for supporters?
With the game underway, the Eagles dominated the inside 50 count but inaccurate kicking meant that they couldn’t do much damage on the scoreboard. Dusty’s fractured cheekbone wasn’t holding him back as he won clearance after clearance. With one goal apiece halfway through the first quarter, the Eagles’ pressure was testing the resolve of the Tigers’ defence until…
Dan Butler picked up a loose ball and – with confidence not expected of someone in just his third game of AFL footy – accelerated to overtake the nearest Eagles player and then bounced three times as he ran towards goals before kicking truly to the delight of the Richmond faithful at the Punt Rd end. West Coast replied soon after and followed up with three behinds to finish off the quarter only four points up.
Into the second quarter we went. Richmond supporters are never afraid to express their feelings and were in fine voice letting the umpires know their considerable disappointment at the lopsided free kick count from the first quarter. But all this was forgotten when…
With Richmond players streaming down the centre of the ground, the ball was kicked slightly wide of Dustin Martin who was one-on-one in the pocket. With seeming ease, he picked up the bouncing ball and then turned and kicked a goal from an impossible angle. Pure joy.
Richmond and West Coast both added three goals during the second quarter, but West Coast’s inaccuracy kept Richmond in the game. Only seven points behind at the long break, the Tigers were in with a chance.
The Tigers needed to lift in the third quarter, and lift they did. In a reversal of the pressure of the first half, the Tigers were putting pressure on the Eagles by repeatedly pushing the ball inside 50. This effort was rewarded when…
Dan Rioli sidestepped two Eagles to win the ball deep in the pocket, and then after a quick one-two with Prestia, kicked truly to level the scores. The crowd responded with an almighty roar.
A goal to Dusty was followed by two quick replies by the Eagles that were then countered by a goal to Grigg. The Tigers were not backing down; they were here to fight out the game.
Ominous dark-grey clouds had rolled over the MCG, erasing the brilliant sunshine of the first half. Towards the end of the third quarter, a quick check of the weather radar on our phones suggested a move to undercover seats on Level 4 would be wise. It was. From our new vantage point, bolts of lightning in the distance were followed by the loud rumbling of thunder and then the clouds opened. The rain slowed up play for a while and then…
In a display of acrobatics not usually seen in wet-weather footy, Dan Butler took the ball in mid-air in to goal square and then kicked it through the goals before landing.
In torrential rain and with most of the 42,000-strong crowd sheltering undercover, the fourth quarter remained goalless with four minutes to go until…
Just when he was needed most, Jack Riewoldt bobbed up to take a chest mark in front of goal, and unlike his wayward kicking during the sunny part of the afternoon, kicked straight to put the Tigers 11 points up. Rioli sealed the game with another goal before the Eagles got a late reply.
The siren sounded and the sounds of the best song ever filled the stadium. The Tigers are off to an unthinkable 3–0 start for season 2017. Bring on the Lions next weekend.
Richmond 2.2 5.6 9.8 11.10 (76)
West Coast 2.6 5.13 7.14 8.17 (65)
Richmond: Butler 2, Martin 2, Rioli 2, Castagna, Grigg, Houli, Lambert, Riewoldt
West Coast: LeCras 3, Kennedy 2, Cripps, Darling, Hutchings
Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Conca, Rance, Butler
West Coast: Gaff, Shuey, LeCras, Priddis
Umpires: Rosebury, Stephens, Chamberlain
Votes: 3 Martin (Richmond), 2 Cotchin (Richmond); 1 Gaff (West Coast)
Crowd: 42,523 (MCG)