Round 15 – Port Adelaide v Richmond: It’s not fair, coach. Alex Rance ganged up on us

We are going old school tonight. We have snacks. We have beer, both local and imported and lots of it. We have a nice bottle of red. We have Foxtel and we have the mighty Tigers on the Tee Vee.

A quick phone call and we also have takeaway vindaloo and korma from Everest in Fairfield. I am almost disappointed when they say they will deliver. Sure, we will have more drinking time but their peerless food always tastes even better when it is spiced with their unique blend of customer service.

The game quickly settles into familiar rhythms. The opening is hard and fast. The two most dominant defensive units in the competition lock horns and quickly assert their control. The first few minutes set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Jack Reiwoldt breaks the deadlock with a thinking man’s mark and goal in the square. Port soon respond with a classy running goal. Neither team falters in their determination to hold ground.

Richmond’s mosquito fleet buzz around their bigger opponents, making clean exits difficult. Port’s dangerous forwards are an ever-present threat. Both teams exchange blows and trade scores, most of them minor scores, I might add, for nearly fifty minutes. Then the rhythm changes, for the first time.

The very talented Chad Wingard drives his team, propelling them forwards repeatedly and it is the Tigers who break first. Without warning, Jackson Trengove and Charlie Dixon find Rance’s measure, conspiring to kick consecutive goals and set up a decent lead of fifteen points at halt-time. The Tiger dynamo looks rattled.

Cotchin has been well held by the dogged Brad Ebert and needs to lift in the second half. Robbie Gray is quiet too, another impressive scalp for Richmond tagger, Kane Lambert.

Watching on television is not my favourite way to experience football. Many of the nuances of the sport are lost. We cannot see the play unfold, we cannot see the movements up the field, or the leads or the blocks. Most of the teamwork occurs off-screen. We are not there, so we cannot drink in the atmosphere. The camera contains and restricts the game, rather than enhances it.

But it does bring us a new narrative. Occasionally, it depicts an intimacy with the protagonists that we cannot experience in any other way.

We are invited to share a precious insight into the Richmond rooms at half-time. It is our fortune to observe the mateship and mutual respect that Trent Cotchin and Alex Rance share. Rance is frustrated, his captain is supportive and encouraging, putting aside his own travails. That moment alone is worth the price of subscription.

Port Adelaide assert themselves in the third quarter whilst Richmond cling on grimly, desperate to remain within grasping distance. Paddy Ryder controls the flow of the game and Wingard continues to accumulate. Matty White reminds us that he learnt his football at Tigerland, missing several shots at goal.

The second change in the rhythm of this game is the decisive one. Port Adelaide open up their biggest lead but this challenge is met by a barrage of Richmond goals. Inspired by their tattooed talisman, Dusty Martin, the human pinball, the Tigers are irrepressible. Dusty bounces off opponents, rolls in in the alleys and the lanes and racks up the points for his team. Surely, a free game is nigh!

Richmond break their opponents and the game is soon safely in their keeping. Daniel Butler and Jayden Short each provide spectacular goals, shining examples of modern football. Butler wins the ball, tucks it under his arm and runs straight to an open goal. Short showcases the skill of modern footballers, kicking accurately with his non-preferred from sixty metres out. Sublime. Young South Australian, Tyson Stengle makes a memorable debut in front of family and friends.

A well-deserved promotion into the top four is a wonderful reward for these determined young Tigers. An AFL season is long and debilitating and there are still many obstacles to overcome. Indisputably, Richmond is well-placed as we enter the business end.

During the final quarter, Jackson Trengove, Charlie Dixon, Paddy Ryder, Justin Westhoff and the Gray twins, Robbie and Reggie, all found themselves recruited into the thankless task of attempting to tag Alex “I’ll take youse all on” Rance. Together, they made a futile attempt to curb his growing influence on the game.

As they trudge off the picturesque Adelaide Oval, one is heard to mutter, “It’s not fair, coach. Alex Rance ganged up on all of us!”

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.


  1. Peter Warrington says

    Thanks Joe. I actually thought Wingard was best on ground but Dusty the reason we won

    Yes Short;’s wrong footed bomb was pretty amazing. Didn’t get the raves it deserved due to another bullshit review situation.

  2. The Wrap says

    The Human Pin Ball – is that yours Joe? Can I borrow it?

    We don’t have Foxtel, so I’ve not seen the full game. Great call on the tempo of it. Thanks.

    And I’ll have to give Everest of Fairfield a go. I just adore a good vindaloo.

  3. Joe De Petro says

    Peter, Wingard was Port’s best player by a mile but he didn’t have the same influence. Dusty was electric when it counted. We Richmond fans should feel privileged to be watching Dusty and Rance every week. Those goal reviews are garbage.

    Be my guest, Wrap. Every time I see Dusty give someone a “don’t –argue” and change his direction at the same time, I think pinball bouncing off a bumper, with perfect timing to get an extra kick. He was just racking them up and knocking them down on Saturday night.

  4. Stainless says

    I also love the pin-ball line. But Dusty’s first half was like a pin-ball being played by a novice. Mis-directed kicks, misjudgment of tackles and some shamefully wasteful missed shots. I paid out on him big time during the break. Not worth anything near a million.

    I had to eat my words though. His second half was like the pin-ball being played by a pro. He turned the game – Wingard didn’t (although had that outrageous snap early in the last quarter gone through we might have been making a different assessment).

  5. The Wrap says

    Dusty’s a bit like that Stainless. This is, without doubt, his breakout year. You’d have to ask what he’d be like plying out of another locker room under a different coach. There’s a fair bit of caveat emptor about Dusty.

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks, Stainless.

    Matty White has a bit of inside knowledge on the Tiges and he uses it. Not many hang on when Dusty applies a fend-off. He was shocked, until he realised who it was. Does he fend-off at training? I’m sure he does.

    Wrap, there is a great deal of caveat emptor about Dusty. I hope they all caveat emptor off.

  7. Stainless says

    I think Richmond’s managed the caveat emptor thing beautifully over a long time and it would be a great shame if another club profited from all our hard work.

  8. Like the caveat emptor line, think it would be wise for all others to know about that. If only my Pordadlay (Official KG pronunciation) mob could learn to kick straight. You only get a certain number of chances and if you stuff them up, it will surely bite you against better teams. They’re not in the 8 for no reason.

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