Round 15 – Port Adelaide v Richmond: Alex Rance, you’re simply the best


Half time at the Adelaide Oval and Richmond faced a huge test of their system and their credibility.


On the road against a top 4 contender, Richmond confronted a three goal deficit that could easily have been more.  The forward line was looking more threadbare than usual, Cotchin was quiet and Dustin Martin was butchering the football and suffering the indignity of a failed “don’t argue”, being pinged in a tackle by, of all players, ex-Tiger Matthew White.


But it was the shrewd tactics by Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley to put a tag on Alex Rance that was the biggest concern. Jackson Trengove was frustrating the be-Jehovah out of the champion defender, forcing Rance into full defensive accountability and denying him his normal rebounding freedom. He’d further rubbed it in by pinching a goal. The TV commentators were predicting a momentous tactical shift that all other coaches would apply to Rance for the rest of the season that threatened to derail Richmond’s entire defensive strategy.


It was clear that the second half would be season-defining for the Tiges. And for Rance.


Other writers will doubtless spill much ink describing the highlights of Richmond’s fantastic victory and the fine contributions made to it by many players. Rather than repeat this, let me simply give a shout-out to the man who is without question the best defender in the competition by the length of the Flemington straight.


Having left the field rattled and distracted, Rance returned after half –time having let off steam to his skipper, and simply knuckled down to the age-old defender’s task – beating your man. Granted, this was not his best night and granted, as Richmond regained midfield ascendancy, his job became considerably easier. But his old aplomb, balance and athleticism returned the longer the game went.


By night’s end, he’d reduced Trengove to just a two possession half, and with partners in crime, Astbury and Grimes, continuing their superb seasons, Rance had knitted together another outstanding defensive display that snuffed out any hint of another late capitulation.


The hunted had become the hunter once again.


About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. steve todorovic says

    Well summed up, Sam. Rance impacted nine contests in the last quarter alone…says it all. For mine there are four absolute stand out players in the competition. Richmond is blessed that it has two of them in Rance and Martin. Danger and Buddy are the other two. Alex rates higher than Buddy because he nearly always beats up on him in their many one on one contests. But Astbury and Grimes allow Rance the time and space to do his thing. Grimes has now foiled Betts, Gray, Fantasia and Garlett amongst many others. Astbury would be in the conversation of All Australian defenders….has any side ever had both of its key defenders selected as All Australians? A new hard edged Brandon Eliis, a much improved Kamdyn McIntosh and the run and flair of Bachar Houli, and you have one of the reasons why the Tigers defence is so frugal. The other is, that when the ball spends so much time in the Tiger forward half due to the manic pressure of the small forwards, the opposition is starved of scoring opportunities.

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