AFL Round 21 – Adelaide v Richmond: Nice sizzle, Adelaide…


Round 21

Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval, Saturday 16 August

At the start of the season, I predicted one thing with confidence. The move from AAMI Stadium to the Adelaide Oval would create a buzz about AFL footy in South Australia and that both the local teams would benefit greatly.

This prediction has been pretty accurate. Put simply, the South Australian footy experience in 2014 has been in sharp contrast with the declining crowds and tame atmosphere prevalent elsewhere. Saturday night’s full house, despite inclement weather, was the 7th 50,000+ crowd for the year at this venue. Adelaide Oval’s central location, and its exquisite blend of great new facilities and old world history and atmosphere seem like a super mix. You can only gain so much from watching a game on TV, especially with the distraction of BT’s commentary, but in a tense finish with Adelaide coming home with a wet sail, the crowd noise seemed deafening.

But for all that the Adelaide Oval move is a genuinely great development, it can only take average teams so far.

My take on the performances of the Adelaide teams is that they’ve been inflated by the “new era” hype. It’s like watching the Crows of 1991. Lots of razzle-dazzle and excitement from some momentum-fuelled victories, spurred on by the urgings of the “19th man”, whilst quietly sweeping those inconvenient losses under the carpet. Granted, the locals these days are too sophisticated for the 1990s-style delusion that a golden mullet or a funny nickname like “Scud” meant that Wayne Weidemann and Eddie Hocking were actually decent footballers. Modern cult figures need to be able to play a bit. It may reek of band-wagon hopping that the Adelaide Oval already boasts an “Eddie Betts pocket”, but you can’t deny that Betts delivers the goods.

With two rounds to go, the Power is set to play finals, and the Crows are still in the mix. A “Showdown” final is an enticing possibility. But as September approaches, the sizzle is dying down and the sausage is looking a bit charred, congealed and unappetising. Since heading the ladder halfway through the season, Port has faded considerably and is limping into September. Adelaide has had a spasmodic season, lurching from the sublime to the ridiculous between or even within matches.   In short, neither club has a list that threatens the top sides. It’s one thing to stop elevating plodders to cult figure status. It’s another to expunge them from your list altogether.

This is not to suggest that Richmond, their opponents tonight, is any better. Six straight wins can mask a lot of deficiencies. A late surge towards the finals sounds grand, until you remember – this side lost to Melbourne on a day when it was supposed to be honouring the memory of its greatest ever coach. Does a side that did this deserve to play finals? Of course not. But then again, Adelaide and Essendon lost to Melbourne too.

Gloomy as this perspective may sound, it’s probably the right lens through which to view a game which, in itself, was ferociously compelling – as virtual elimination finals should be – but which exemplified the reasons why if either team progresses beyond the next fortnight, it probably won’t be far.

The home contingent will (rightly) bleat about the latest DRS clanger – Sloane’s goal that wasn’t – but they are kidding themselves to think it affected the outcome of the game. That there was even a sense that it could have put the Crows back in the contest was a reflection of the incredible profligacy Richmond demonstrated in front of goal during its third quarter master-class in the art of dominating a game without reflecting it on the scoreboard. Its three-quarter time lead of 19 points was, in true Richmond fashion, tantalisingly short of being safe. Just the sort of margin to persuade jittery Tiger fans that Brenton Sanderson’s bizarre outburst last week about injuries, heat and fixturing injustice was actually a masterstroke of reverse psychology.

Fifteen minutes into the last quarter and that lead had, predictably, evaporated. It was as though the sight of Eddie Betts (albeit in Crows colours) snapping trademark opportunist goals, had revived the nightmare of Chris Judd, Nick Duigan and Jeff Garlett engineering our 2013 season-ending meltdown. This time the perpetrators would be Rory Sloane, James Podsiadly and Cameron. The men in green, possibly shouldering some indirect guilt for the DRS debacle, seemed intent on compensating the Crows with every tiggy touch free kick on offer.

So what are we to make of Richmond’s improbable feat in slipping the noose?

Although the slippery conditions always provided the threat of a Russian Roulette finish, I honestly don’t think our win can be put down to dumb luck in the last desperate minutes. We kicked the last 2.4 of the match and dominated possession. Wastefulness again denied us a bigger win.

Nor was it one of those typical Richmond wins of the past where our stars have massive days and drag an ordinary team across the line. Deledio and Martin had the opportunity to play career-best games but squandered chance after chance at goal and in general play. Rance broke even with Walker. Maric had his colours lowered by Jacobs and Riewoldt may as well have not played. Our real winners on Saturday were Ellis, Miles, Edwards, Chaplin, Morris, Foley and Gordon. Half these blokes hadn’t been heard of at the start of the season. The other half weren’t rated. To achieve this in the face of “the 19th man” and the overwhelming momentum of the home team was….well….un-Richmond-like.

Sadly, I suspect the Tigers may be destined for yet another finish just short of the finals. Unless the Swans choose to bookend their home-and-away season with practice match efforts, I think our last round assignment in Sydney will be too tough.

One thing’s for sure, though: a final at the Adelaide Oval would be quite an occasion.

ADELAIDE      2.3   4.10    5.13   9.15      (69)

RICHMOND     5.1   7.5     8.14   10.19     (79)  


Adelaide: Walker 2, Podsiadly 2, Betts 2, Jenkins, Mackay, Cameron

Richmond: Deledio 2, Gordon 2, Martin 2, Griffiths, Foley, Cotchin, Edwards


Adelaide: Jacobs, Dangerfield, Talia, Crouch, Wright, Douglas

Richmond: Cotchin, Delidio, Ellis, Grigg, Gordon, Rance

Umpires: Dalgleish, Stevic, Mitchell

Official crowd: 50,459 at  Adelaide Oval

My votes:         Ellis (R) 3, Sloane (A) 2, Jacobs (A) 1



About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Skip of Skipton says

    If North defeat Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday afternoon, I will be punting on the Tigers to roll Sydney the following week.

    If Adelaide defeat North in Hobart on Saturday afternoon, I will be punting on St.Kilda to roll Richmond on Sunday night.

    Interesting times.

  2. Fair comment Skip. The MRP seems to have dealt the Crows a bit of a favour.

  3. Thanks Sam. As a Crows fan and one who’s taken in a match at the oval this season, I think you’ve cut through the hoopla accurately. Both Adelaide teams are not yet in a position to threaten.

    So much for the Crows at Adelaide Oval though- six teams who’ve never played there have beaten them this season! We’re better away from home.

  4. Ben Footner says

    Shocking record at home so far isn’t it Mickey.

    I reckon the home crowd is actually having the reverse affect that it should – rather than helping them over the line, it seems that aren’t able to handle the pressure of 40 odd thousand fans expecting them to win.

  5. You might be correct Ben.

    It’s inexplicable/ inexcusable that our home record is so poor. Given everything they should win in Tassie Saturday as they’ve been reasonable on the road this season.

  6. Ben Footner says

    Absolutely, especially when 3 of those loses were against sides below us on the ladder (Melbourne, West Coast, Richmond). You just shouldn’t lose games like that at home. Shocking stuff.

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