AFLW Round 5 – Adelaide v Brisbane: A Few Things Happened On The Way To The Ground

6.40 pm (CST), Saturday, 4 March 2017
Norwood Oval, Adelaide

Anne Cahill Lambert

Yes, a bit late again, but it took me a while to get to Adelaide and back home to the nation’s capital. Not to mention a day without electricity at home (no, it wasn’t anything to do with Australia’s poor energy status).


It was a sobering week. I own a sliver of a horse’s hoof or two; trained by Keith Dryden and Scott Collings, and take a great interest in things that happen at Capital Racing Stables. On Tuesday before the game, we heard that there had been a terrible accident at the stable. The track rider, Riharna Thomson, sustained serious head injuries when the horse she was riding (Chosen Prayer) broke its leg. The horse was euthanised.


Riharna died two days later and her last act of kindness and generosity was to donate her organs. Trainers, strappers and family members all formed a guard of honour at the hospital as emergency service workers carried her organs out of the hospital to the airport.   She will be buried on Friday in her family’s home town of Tamworth.


Canberra’s big race day is Black Opal Day, which was last Sunday. There was discussion about whether the day would go ahead, given the enormous tragedy. Ultimately the meeting proceeded.


I have many photos of Riharna as she has led horses around the mounting yard before and after races. Here’s a lovely one of her, on the right, with Bid of Faith with Rachel Hunt riding, returning to scale after coming fifth, just after Christmas.



It was with a heavy heart, therefore, that I travelled to Adelaide to spend a few days with my niece* and her friends to watch the top of the table battle it out. It was hot, and, bugger me, on arrival at my hotel, announcements were being made to turn air conditioners off as there was a fire at one of the power plants. Adelaide was in danger of heading into the dark; again.


The pre-match press conference had the coach focused on the game and not the Grand Final. Another classic one liner from the coach’s presser: “Sarah Perkins is not a one trick pony.” And: “Last week in the first quarter we tried to sneak a rooster past a sunrise.” I love it.


I got to Norwood Oval in good time as I estimated the crowd would be large**. I was lucky to be able to see the second half of the SANFL women’s league – Norwood v Glenelg. The rotations were frequent as the heat was a significant factor. Glenelg won with 5.10.40 to Norwood’s 2.10.22. There were electric fans on the boundary and about 36 very red faces.


I went to the pre match family welcome from Adelaide where each of the coaches and training staff was introduced. The coach explained that there had been a death in Sarah Perkins’ family and the players would wear black armbands as a mark of respect.


Adelaide coaching staff including Bec Goddard (l) and Colleen Gwynne (r)


The Lions came out with all guns blazing and scored the first major via Emily Bates. Thank heavens for Sally Riley (whose Mum I met at the pre match function – they travelled from Ballarat) who snuck in the Crows’ first goal via the skill and kick of Erin Phillips. It was on and even at quarter time.


It would be fair to say that the game was fairly “willing” at different stages. There was nothing left in the locker room. It was all out there for us to see. It was tough (oh, and still hot). While Adelaide gave much hope to their supporters in the second quarter by taking an eight-point lead, they missed a premiership (third) quarter. Their disposals were not as effective as they should have been. They were getting the ball but not achieving much.  They were just in front.


We headed into the final quarter with just two points separating the teams. The last quarter was as exciting as any AFL grand final: the crowd roared, willing Erin to kick that goal (missed by a cat’s whisker) and take the points. The noise was huge and I didn’t hear the siren as I was shouting words of encouragement to “just kick a goal”. Three points separated the top two teams. It could have gone either way but Brisbane took the points.


Sarah Perkins had another blinder with two goals, but was effective for the entire match. It turns out that she causes the most turnovers of opposition teams. And she’s in the forward line. Extraordinary.  Erin Phillips again led by example. She was in everything and didn’t give up. For Brisbane, Emily Bates was just terrific with 17 disposals.


I’ll watch the Darwin match from the comfort of my home in Canberra; hopefully, the power will stay on. Fingers crossed for safe travels and a great game against Melbourne.


Adelaide:        1.0       2.3       4.4       4.6  (30)
Brisbane         1.0       1.1        4.2       5.3  (33)


Adelaide:        Perkins 2, Riley, Holmes
Brisbane         McCarthy 2, Bates, Lutkins, Zielke


OUR VOTES    Perkins 3, Bates 2, Phillips 1


UMPIRES        Medlin, Bryce, Wachtel


*My niece is still the coach of Adelaide.
**The official crowd as reported in the Adelaide Advertiser was 12,108 yet the AFL website reports it as 10,676. As a spectator I would go with the ‘Tiser figure.

About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Anne, I am very sorry for the loss of Riharna, and her last act will be one of the many things she is remembered for. Your story is about women doing what they love and are passionate about, horse training and footy. Women who are following their dreams and passions, and sometimes the story goes awry. But the beat goes on, as it did for the Crows. In such short games there is no time to make up for missed shots at goals. All season this has been shown up – if you miss opportunities, you can lose games. This was definitely a mighty game, scrappy at times, high scoring and bruising. Desperate women, desperate acts, and a close finish. Felt for Adelaide. Brisbane now look favourites but who knows. Magic seems to happen every week.

    thanks for your great report.

  2. E.regnans says

    Thanks Anne C L.
    All the best to the family and friends of Riharna Thomson.
    And to Sarah Perkins and family and friends.

    Life is such a lottery.

  3. Danae Gibson says

    Thanks for sharing Anne. I’m hoping Bec and the Crows go all the way in 2017.

  4. jan courtin says

    So sad to hear of such a young life ending suddenly. We just never know what’s around the corner, so must make the most of every minute.

    I was barracking for the Lionesses. With 22 of their 27 from the non-footy state of Queensland, it’s amazing what they’ve achieved so far. I love Sarah Perkins too. Great role model.


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