TEN BIG ONES

Richmond enters this clash with West Coast as favourites.

Now, that’s a novelty. How will the Tiger cubs handle the weight of expectation?

The first five minutes of the match are consumed by constant ball-ups. Then WHAM! If the Tigers are striding into uncharted territory as the bookies’ choice, they now make a bold strike into the realm of the Glamour Full-forward.

The ball spills to the rear of a marking contest, Jack Reiwoldt pounces and goals. Sure thing. Then Jack repeatedly out marks hapless opponent Eric McKenzie and boots another three. He nails four majors in five minutes, the Tigers lead 4-1 to nil and the joint is jumping like it’s 1974. Of course Reiwoldt is in form. He has recent bags of six against both Essendon and St. Kilda, but who expected this?

The Eagles have scarcely stepped off the plane before being ambushed by marauding Tigers.

Richmond is relentless. Dustin Martin is playing like he brought his own footy along with him. He gathers 14 possessions for the quarter, sweeps the ball out to teammates and drills a lovely running goal. Tuck and Cotchin enhance their reputations as clearance specialists. Deledio commands proceedings in defence and rebounds through the midfield. Jake King adopts a defensive forward role on the creative Shannon Hurn and puts him to the sword.

The Richmond game plan is simple. Kick it long to Jack and get out of his way. Eagles boss John Worsfold moves Will Schofield onto Reiwoldt, but the Tiger spearhead promptly registers another one to finish with an astonishing five for the quarter. It’s the first time it’s happened since Nathan Brown went on the rampage against Collingwood during the first heady days of Terry Wallace’s reign back in ’05.

Tiger supporters rise as one at quarter time to acclaim their conquering heroes. We have regained our self-respect. Far from being the whipping boys of the competition, we are capable of dishing out a few hidings of our own!

The onslaught continues in the second quarter. Every player coming off for a breather is afforded a rapturous reception. Every defensive punch, every second effort, is acknowledged with growing delight. By half-time, when the Tigers stroll into the sheds with a thoroughly deserved 48-point lead, the day’s work is done. The fans kick back, open the thermos and regale each other with tales of how they never doubted for one moment that the boys would eventually turn the corner under Damian Hardwick. Our last premiership coach, Tony Jewell, appears in the members section with a grandson in tow.  He joins son Nick, former Victorian batsman and a one-gamer with the Tigers, on the boundary fence. Nick is trying his hand as a commentator on radio 3LO. Tony shakes hands with some mighty satisfied fanatics. They have fond memories of that Grand Final in 1980 and the coach with the plaid jacket and wild curly hair.

Jack has six. Can he be the first Tiger since Richo, back in ’04, to bring up the magical ten?

The Eagles perform better in the third term. They are most effective when they play a man behind the ball before linking up and running in waves. They boot the first three goals of the second half and inch to within 31 points. Then the Tigers cut loose again. They boot 5-4 to nothing in the next ten minutes and take the lead out to 65 points, an immensely satisfying margin for a combination doing it hard at the foot of the table.

Jack has seven.

The final quarter is a pure adrenalin rush for the yellow and black barrackers. Reiwoldt grubbers his eighth through a clutch of bodies in the square. He roosts a shot out on the full and misses another. Is the goal of a double-figure return simply asking too much? Then he brings up his ninth after receiving a free kick for being held at a ruck contest. Fever pitch! Then the moment arrives. At the 21-minute mark Tuck accepts a handball from Collins and gets the ball moving with a high, tumbling kick. Reiwoldt is underneath it! He takes yet another contested mark. Everybody is on their feet, waiting for the next part of the drama to unfold. He goes back and pops it through for number ten.

He is mobbed by clubmates as the supporters dance in rapture. Kicking ten goals in a match these days is virtually unheard of. In fact it hasn’t been done since Brisbane’s Jonathan Brown achieved the feat back in ’07. Not even Jack’s cousin, Saint Nick, has risen to this height. It took Richo 11 years to get there!

All those hours spent target shooting at Punt Road with his Ipod blasting sledges and crowd noise has paid off in spades.

Richmond wins by 49 points. Happy supporters departing the arena pause on the steps to watch the victorious players belting out the club song on the big screen. We grin, pump our fists and wave scarves when the boys bellow YELLOW AND BLACK! Wonder of wonders, our man is leading the Coleman Medal.

All things considered, spending a Sunday afternoon at the MCG in winter doesn’t seem so bad after all. I can think of ten good reasons why.

Comments

  1. When does Jack’s contract expire? Maybe he’ll join cousin Nick and give the Saints the fire-power they need for a flag.

  2. Callum O'Connor says:

    Good report.Excellent imagery.

    Gigs, the Gold Coast will nab Riewoldt.

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