Finals Week 3 – Port Adelaide v Richmond: Another option

 

 

 

There’s not quite the words that I can put together to make any sense of the frankly ridiculous set of circumstances that have come to pass.

 

The result, we admitted, not supposed to happen, the season, we expected, not supposed to happen. Who told Noah Balta that he was to be tasked with mauling Charlie Dixon, deep into Spring?

 

With no Next Time, in front of a vitriolic sea of prison barred teal, Kane Lambert finds spaces, makes opportunities ring with his gut-running flair, wins the game with the most careful checkside and then, a perfect snap. Who writes that story? He was never supposed to be there, twice, indeed, thrice-fold. Drafted too late, to a team never good enough, now nestled in the midfield of a three-time Grand Finalist.

 

Brad Ebert’s career ends with a final act of whole-bodied commitment. An understanding of what Ebert does takes little more than one viewing. The hard faced and deep-set eyes, the lone helmeted combatant, dashing forever backward into possibility. The second watching illuminates his upraised right hand seeks to punch the ball to Trent McKenzie; if he knew McKenzie was there, he also knew that Riewoldt was there as well, charging at him with a finality.

 

Port Adelaide’s #7 is poleaxed. Ebert drops, a quarter-backflip. He is visibly broken as he bounces on the turf, his head yanked down-up, tweaked by the master of a yo-yo. It is sickening and a moment of total understanding. He is done, for the game, season, career. The ball, however, eludes danger and the game survives. Football is cruel. He had to do it. A price is demanded.

 

What is forgotten is forty seconds ago, the wormhole of possibility opened up for Brad Ebert for the first time, in at least the quarter. Rewind, with the last seven-and-a-half minutes to go, and watch Ebert spring backward with the final lurch of the football, marking on his chest at the corner of the square having dashed to make ground, Tom Lynch and company hurtling the other way with blinkered vision. Brad Ebert knows the price.

 

It doesn’t quite make sense that the sacrifice of a man who may as well be Port Adelaide’s very own Prince (such are his bloodlines) equates to loss. The cinematic flair that bubbles in Preliminary Finals requires stories. Ebert would not have played next week, regardless. Another year of football, too, was likely out. He went all the same, when it was time to.

 

Toby Nankervis is the story, dropped on the season’s resumption, big, slow, unassuming, easy to disgruntle. ‘Nank the Tank’ rumbles around like the latter third of his moniker and in the last, snatches a pair of unassuming, workmanlike contested marks. A ruckman’s mark. He is close to Richmond’s best, undersized, overwhelmed, unbowed.

 

Tom Lynch is the story, hated by most, subject to inches and inches of columns dedicated to his poor on-field behaviour, comforting a sobbing supporter of the opposition that committed to his own discomfort. It is a start, Tom.

 

Noah Balta snatching contested marks because no-one told him it was wet. Connor Rozee snapping majors and weaving through traffic unperturbed because no-one told him it was wet either. Zak Butters’ touches. Riewoldt leaping to gain ground and ignoring every marking opportunity. Vlastuin repelling all borders in a fashion that would leave Peter Dutton scarlet with envy. Tom Jonas mowing down Lynch in a tackle that announces he will not crack. Xavier Duursma kicking a goal, celebrating, then harrying with abandon to bark at his adversary’s lead aggressor.

 

Low-scoring, breathless football. They could go for another two hours if you asked. It is a bloody fist-fight on the streets of Adelaide and the only glory is being alive at the very end of it.

 

In Woodend we are screaming on the siren, disbelieving. Our team.

 

Deep into a replay, I’m left with the image of Brad Ebert on the bench, helmet off, and I wonder if he ever thought there was another option.

 

 

PORT ADELAIDE     2.3    3.3    4.4     6.4 (40)
RICHMOND
              2.1    3.3    4.6    6.10 (46)

 

GOALS
Port Adelaide:
Rozee 2, Duursma, Lycett, Dixon, Ladhams
Richmond: Martin 2, Lambert 2, Riewoldt, Lynch

 

BEST
Port Adelaide: Rozee, Duursma, Ebert, Gray, Jonas, Wines
Richmond: Martin, Balta, Cotchin, Vlastuin, Graham, McIntosh

 

 

Read more about the preliminary finals HERE and Port Adelaide v Richmond HERE

 

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About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy enjoys a good souvlaki and trying to kick droppies from the wrong pocket.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Paddy. I’m not sure whether you meant it or not, but Ebert’s grandfather was Trevor ‘Bubbles’ Obst, 1967 Magarey Medallist and four-time Port premiership player.

    That was one of the most selfless actions I’ve ever seen on a footy field.

  2. Paddy Grindlay says

    Hiya Swish – Emma Quayle wrote about Brad’s final year of junior footy in 2007 in a book called “The Draft” which is where I got that snippet from.

  3. Richmond win finals like Trump wins elections. Relentless, brutal, yappy, exhausting. inexhaustible.

  4. I take exception to that comparison PB. Unlike that buffoon, Richmond has substance, integrity and class.

    Great piece Paddy. So much to absorb from last night but you’ve captured the key moments brilliantly. One of the great finals victories.

  5. After almost 9 weeks in hospital after a very serious operation, I’m back. As a neutral observer, I enjoyed last night’s big clash. Having no great love for either Richmond or the Power I thought Port played the better brand of footybut couldn’t match Richmond when it counted. I must confess it’s just not in my DNA to support Port (Or Collingwood for that matter). Interesting bit by Swish relating to Ebert (a really fine player). Anyway, I hope either Brisbane or Geelong take out the Flag.

  6. Bubbles allusion as mentioned above was brilliant mate – as usual, your writing just keeps on improving like an Adelaide Hills pinot.

    Also, can I say, how good is making grand finals?

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