Round 15 – Port Adelaide v Richmond: A trio of triumphs

by John Green

 

With end of the second term and the start of school holidays, it’s time for some welcome recreation. On Saturday morning my wife and I watch our son play for the Warrandyte seconds against Scoresby. A uni student, he can’t be considered for the seniors at present because his part-time job prevents him from training twice during the week. He plays at full forward and boots three in the opening term. In the third quarter he bursts clear and fires a banana shot in the direction of the goals. The black-capped goal umpire from Scoresby hesitates before raising the two fingers. Scoresby players are apoplectic. After trailing by four goals at half time the Magpies have drawn to within five points. They claim it was a behind, but the field umpires allow the goal to stand. Now there’s some heat in the competition.

 

They dare dispute my boy’s goal? I decide to become involved.

 

“Good call, Scoresby, good call!”

 

The visitors, who had vigorously complained to the umpires throughout the match, begin to unravel. Warrandyte scores again with the aid of a free kick played down the field and a Scoresby player is sent off.

 

I clap wildly and yell “ let’s go Bloods, they’re comin’ apart!”

 

At this point my wife reminds me darkly that there are some rough types supporting the opposition and that she’s off to purchase a pie to ensure her own safety. I like to think that my timely intervention makes a difference and Warrandyte run out comfortable victors.

 

My son finishes the match with 12 kicks, 10 marks, two handballs and five goals. Ever the dutiful father, I always count his stats for him. I ask after the match about the disputed major and he confirms that the shot “wasn’t even close.”

 

Next it’s home to watch the Essendon-Richmond clash in the VFL match of the day on Channel 7. The game is played at Windy Hill. Memories. Kevin Sheedy snapping the winning goal for the Tigers in the opening round of ’73, the riot at half time right in front of where I was standing with my father and brother in ’74 and a surprise win by the emerging Tiger cubs when the two sides met for the last time for premiership points at the venue back in ’91. With a grandstand missing and the terraces gone from the outer side it’s less intimidating than it used to be and it’s possible to observe more of the streets and houses of the genteel suburb than you could in former years.

 

The Tigers have only ten AFL listed payers in their line-up, whereas the Bombers have 19. A number of top-up players are making their debuts for Richmond. An easy kill for the home team? Not so. It’s close all afternoon and the Tigers are well served by youngsters I have never heard of with names like O’Sullivan, Cass and the delightfully christened Danko Bzenic. Taylor Hunts drifts forward with only minutes remaining and two points in it. He kicks the sealer from 45 metres out and our second string outfit demonstrates to the seniors the things you need to do to prevail in a close finish.

 

And so to the main event. Richmond takes on Port Adelaide in the southern capital on Foxtel. It’s an intriguing match-up. Both combinations play a manic pressure game where they attempt to retain the ball in their forward zone to maximise scoring opportunities. Both teams defend well and the pressure around the ball is immense. Turnovers are common and goals extremely hard to come by.

 

There are worrying signs for Richmond. Cotchin is being quelled by Ebert. Riewoldt, the Tigers’ only tall option in attack, is regularly flying against two opponents. For perhaps the first time in history the competition’s stellar full back is being tagged. Alex Rance is grappling with Jackson Trengove. Trengove is preventing Rance from charging at contests and taking intercept marks. Charlie Dixon is also lending assistance. Astbury is hard pressed to keep Dixon away from him. Rance actually comes off second best in a couple of key contests against the Port forwards. The Power control most of the play but are spraying their shots at goal, with former Tiger Matthew White as the worst offender.

 

There is priceless footage at half time of a clearly agitated Rance in deep discussion with Cotchin in the rooms. Cotchin smiles and puts his arm around his struggling gun defender. Riewoldt does the same.

 

In a low-scoring slugfest the Power extend their lead to 16 points late in the third term and I’m almost ready to concede.

 

Then the game changes in a matter of minutes. First-gamer Tyson Stengle marks on the lead and boots his first major in the big time. Rioli goals on the run within a minute of the resumption before Martin surges into attack with a barrelling run and adds another to put the Tigers up by a couple of points just before the three-quarter-time siren. That’s three that we really needed.

 

Rance is getting away from Trengove. Cotchin is working his way into proceedings and Martin bullies the opposition with a series of imperious fend-offs and bullocking runs. Richmond’s smalls maintain their relentless pressure on the Port Adelaide ball carriers. Last week’s matchwinner in Robbie Gray is completely blanketed by Dylan Grimes. The Tigers strike with three decisive goals early in the final term; two to Dan Butler and one to Stengle when Riewoldt rides opponent Tom Clurey, grabs the mark, swivels and squirts it out to the running Stengle, who pops it through from point blank range. There’s no catching these Tigers and Jayden Short adds another before the final bell.

 

What an inspiring, courageous performance from the Richmond players after the game was slipping away late in the third quarter.

 

I share the delight of the visiting supporters dancing under the Moreton Bay figs at the cathedral end of the ground. It’s been a good day of footy watching.

 

Comments

  1. Stainless says:

    John
    Nice reminiscing about Windy Hill. It was an intimidating venue and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more squashed in a footy crowd than on those terraces. I vividly remember Jimmy Jess and Paul Van der Haar trading marks in 1980 in a showdown reminiscent of the famous Van der Haar/Peter Knights contest in 1978. Great days.
    The VFL win was certainly a nice lead-in to the main game. It was certainly an intriguing game albeit scrappy – one forgets about how often the wind affected games at those exposed suburban venues.
    I hope the win over Port Adelaide is the “season defining” one we needed. It had all the hallmarks, but in this season you just never know.

  2. they talked us up on On the Couch last night. be afraid. be very afraid…

    hoping the Sts are tired after the Perth trip. never like our chances at Colonial

  3. Steve Todorovic says:

    Agree with all three of you learned men. The Tigger train is gathering momentum and those fickle media types are jumping on in the droves. …almost as many as there were 5 weeks ago saying that Dimma had no right to praise his young team when they couldn’t quite close out a game. The wheel turns quickly in the AFL. Be wary…a loss to the Saints and they will all bail out post haste. We don’t need them on board anyway…only those of us who have suffered the blood, sweat and tears of the countless seasons without finals success should be entitled to a seat on the Tiger express.
    Martin Luther King was quoted as saying “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge.” Enter Alex Rance. Not allowed to play his normal intercept game by Trengrove in the first half, he showed why he is the standout defender of his generation in the second half. I counted no less than 12 contests he impacted in the last quarter, losing but one…and that when the game was safely out of Port’s reach.
    BTW John, it Tyson Stengle….without the ‘n'(Ed. since corrected). Confusing I know…given there was a Tyson Stenglein play for the Crows a few years back. And good luck with the Warrandyte seconds!

  4. keep it quiet,but tigers can win the flag..

  5. Joe De Petro says:

    Absolutely, Steve. Tragics only. As a interesting aside, we play St Kilda twice over the next few weeks. Both teams hold each other’s fate in their hands.

    Loved your day, John. I was intending on making the trip to Windy Hill but a mate’s boy was playing down the road so I watched that game instead. Maybe next time.

  6. A great day for you, John.

    I do not miss Windy Hill in the slightest.
    Mainly because North always got thrashed there!

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