Round 13 – Sydney v Richmond: The Twirl of the Coin

Two Face is one of Batman’s arch enemies. His real identity is no secret. Everybody in Gotham City knows he is Harvey Dent, the former district attorney of the city. The left side of Dent’s face was hideously scarred when a mob boss threw acid at him during a trial. Driven insane by his ordeal, Dent became Two Face, a violent criminal. He is obsessed with matters of duality and fate. What sets him apart from other villains is that he chooses to do good or evil based on the flip of a coin. The coin is defaced on one side. If the defaced side is revealed Two Face is very bad indeed. His creator, cartoonist Bob Kane, was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s character in The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The Tigers travel well, having already enjoyed victories in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth during the current season. But it seems their fate may as well be decided by the turn of a coin. How else can one explain the contrast between their scintillating first term against the Dockers at Patersons Stadium and the stunning ineptitude they delivered in the opening stages of their following match against the Eagles at the MCG?

Will we witness virtuous Richmond or nefarious Richmond tonight against the Sydney Swans? And was it the toss of a coin that led the Swans’ medical staff to scratch Buddy Franklin from the line-up for the clash with Richmond at ANZ Stadium in the final round of 2014, enabling the Tigers to win and claim a spot in the final eight?

Franklin certainly looks like he wants to make a statement this time around. He engages in some fisticuffs with Rance before the opening bounce, landing a few short jabs to his rival’s jaw in full view of the umpires. It sets the scene for a spiteful clash between the teams.

The Swans establish their authority. While errors abound for both combinations, the home team is far more efficient with its disposal. Jack, Hannebery, Parker and Kennedy are in complete control. Gary Rohan is playing a blinder. Lewis Jetta is allowed the space and time to set up attacks with his pinpoint passing. Franklin looks like he is about to break out at any moment with a match-winning burst of power. Four unanswered goals from the Swans take their lead out to 31 points by the 20-minute mark of the second term. They are locating targets, applying pressure to the Richmond ball carriers and gathering superior numbers at the contests. The members of the 2005 premiership team, guests at the SCG for the evening, are royally entertained. The Tigers are being overwhelmed. Only Riewoldt, with his hard running, contesting and marking is keeping them remotely in touch. A rampaging Franklin is reported for rough contact when he chooses to run past the ball and cleans up Shane Edwards.

The Tigers still trail by 32 points at the long break and I’m thinking in terms of battling on and saving some percentage. But something happens in the second half. It’s like one shift finishes at a factory and the next one clocks on. Dominant Swans from the first half inexplicably disappear from view. Suddenly Cotchin, Martin, Deledio and Brandon Ellis magically appear. Cotchin somehow manufactures a goal despite lying on his back and being surrounded by three Sydney defenders. Vickery takes a series of strong marks in attack to complement the labours of Riewoldt. Franklin, seemingly distracted by his report, can’t get a touch. Rance starts to rebound from defence. Tippett goes into the umpire’s notebook when he elbows Dylan Grimes to the head in a marking duel. Nathan Gordon will come under the scrutiny of the match review committee after landing a glancing blow to the fringe of Kieran Jack. There is a bizarre postscript to the Franklin report. Shane Edwards has been taken from the field for a 20-minute concussion test. Vickery marks with incredible courage in front of advancing defenders and prepares to take his shot at goal. Interchange infringement! We find out later that Edwards has been re-introduced to the field one minute and 40 seconds too early. The resulting free kick and 50-metre penalty sees Nick Smith lining up from point blank range. Out on the full! It’s symptomatic of Sydney’s descent into chaos. They are outscored by seven goals to two for the quarter.

Riewoldt puts the Tigers up by a point at the 28-minute mark in an outlandish reversal of fortune.

Both teams appear to be out on their feet in a gripping final term and majors are hard to come by. The Swans press hard and spend considerable time in their forward zone, but the Tigers are dogged in defence. Tippett levels the scores when he marks and converts at the 22-minute mark. But Riewoldt puts Richmond back in front. They run the ball to the ball to him again where he battles two defenders in the goal square. The Swans end up sprawled on the goal line and Riewoldt, still on his feet, glances behind him. He stands aside for a charging Ivan Maric. Of Croatian parentage and the reigning president of the St. Albans Soccer Club, he fulfils his boyhood dream of turning out as a striker for Dynamo Zagreb. Ivan deftly pokes the ball to the left of the beleaguered defenders to put the match beyond doubt. Miles snaps another one on the siren to complete a monumental comeback victory for the Tigers.

Richmond last won at the SCG back in 2004 on the back of a dominant seven-goal performance from Matthew Richardson. Tonight Jack Riewoldt has followed suit with a bag of six.

Who saw this one coming? Another triumph on the road. I can only conclude that Damien Hardwick cleverly uses a two-headed coin when the boys travel outside Victoria. It’s heads again! This means we play well tonight! Fancy that!


  1. Great to re live the game, especially second half, through your report John.

  2. Great stuff JG. I don’t get the Tigers. As you say there is such a gulf between their best and worst.
    But they save their best for the best, and their worst for the worst (whoops, that doesn’t make my Eagles sound good).
    I loved your second half heroics over the Evil Empire. Has there ever been a more dislikeable footballer than Kurt Tippett? Sullen, greedy, oversized, overpaid and over there.
    Big, bad Buddy self immolating.
    Tigers – good for football.

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