Round 15 – Richmond v Sydney: Rock, paper, scissors

Richmond v Sydney

7:20PM, Thursday June 28

Docklands Stadium



It’s a Thursday night and we are playing at Docklands Stadium.  Texts, emails and phone calls are exchanged as we struggle to cope with this change to our routine.  It’s a work-day for a start and not a Friday to boot.  We are not going to the MCG, so our usual meeting places and dinner haunts are all out.  We end up in the city, eating steak and chips and sharing a peppery bottle of Cabernet sauvignon.  It is boys’ night and there is not one green vegetable in sight.  Captain Blood would be proud of us.



This is the clash between first and second on the ladder, but all week, it has been the match-up between Alex Rance and Buddy Franklin which has captured the imagination.  They are arguably the best defender and the best forward in the competition.  Franklin is one of the few who kicks goals regularly against Rance.  In return, Rance is one of the few who can match his speed and athleticism.  Will tonight’s result hinge on their contests?



Ben Ronke kicks the first two goals, suggesting he has something to say about this churlish assumption.  Franklin kicks Sydney’s next, not long afterwards.  Jack Riewoldt, at his imperious best, keeps the Tigers in the game.



The game settles and we marvel at the quality of football before us.  Suddenly, we at left to watch in horror and disbelief as Reece Conca goes down with a disturbing ankle injury.  It registers through our ears first, as agonised, blood-curdling screams of pain that echo around the ground.  All we can do is sit uncomfortably, shuffling in our seats, feeling sick to our stomachs, as the poor boy writhes in pain on the deck.  What is it about this ground and injuries to Richmond players?



Players congregate into two groups, also looking uncomfortable.  These are men of action, they have spent hours preparing themselves to run and crash into each other, no quarter given or asked.  Suddenly they are standing around, testosterone pulsing through their bodies with nowhere to go.  They must wait patiently for a while.



David Astbury is no stranger to pain, in years past he and Conca have spent many lonely months together, sharing their rehabilitation hours as they recovered together from serious injuries, forming a special bond.  He stays with his friend throughout his ordeal, offering words of comfort, holding his hand.  It is a show of tenderness in a moment of stressful adversity.



As their fallen mate leaves the arena on a stretcher, each Richmond player places a soothing hand on him, as does Sydney player, Gary Rohan, who experienced similar pain himself in a game a few years ago.  Young Daniel Rioli plants a kindly kiss on his forehead.  With men like these, the fate of humanity is in good hands.



The Tigers respond with the next five goals of the game, establishing a lead which they will protect for the rest of the night.



Upon the resumption of play, Riewoldt takes charge of the game, stepping up, leading his team with strong marking and hard running.  Rance has his hands full with his dangerous opponent and Tiger captain Trent Cotchin is busy in the rooms with injury concerns of his own.



Inspired by their centre half-forward, Kane Lambert and Dion Prestia work themselves into the game.  Nick Vlastuin, playing loose across half back, repels a number of promising Sydney attacks, spoiling his game only with a clumsy and ill-advised elbow to the face of an opponent.



The middle half of the game is inconclusive and disputed.  Sydney’s youngsters lead the way.  Ronke, Will Hayward and the impressive Andrew Florent use their pace to disrupt the Tigers’ flow.  The two Daniels, Rioli and Butler do the same to the visitors.  They all kick spectacular goals and lead their slower opponents a merry dance.  Is this the way of the future?  Fleet-footed young players seem to have an almighty advantage in this modern game.



At the last break, the margin is close.  Less than two goals separates the teams.  What else would we expect from these two wonderful teams?  Upon resumption, it is immediately cut to less than a goal.



Riewoldt and Lambert are the heroes for Richmond.  Through sheer force of will, they propel the ball forwards until the game is out of Sydney’s reach.  They make an interesting pair, a high-jumping dual Coleman Medal winner and the skinny kid who was rejected at five drafts before finally getting a belated opportunity, which he has grasped with both hands.  They each complete the game with three goals.  Sydney show remarkable accuracy in front of their goals but the Tigers triumph.



The Rance-Franklin battle did indeed take centre stage throughout the game, although it was gatecrashed by an unlikely third protagonist.  Disco umpire Ray Chamberlain, complete with a fresh “look-at-me” haircut and a selection of overstated, attention-grabbing gestures to underline his decisions, imposed himself into their private war.  Determined to upstage the players, he strutted around like a peacock, blowing his whistle theatrically.



What followed was akin to a bizarre game of “rock, paper, scissors” as a series of unnecessary adjudications were made in the most melodramatic manner possible.  Richmond coach, Damien Hardwick, in his post-match report, implored the umpires to “just let them play.”  It is not hard to fathom which events led to his frustration.



Throughout the game, Chamberlain’s paper covered Rance’s rock.  In turn, Rance’s rock smashed Franklin’s scissors.  And, of course, Franklin’s scissors cut Chamberlain’s paper.



Franklin finished with four goals, Rance was solid.  Chamberlain was annoying.



Can we start a campaign to remove his microphone?  #silencerazorray.



RICHMOND     6.1       7.2       11.5     14.9 (93)

SYDNEY           3.1       5.1       10.1     11.1 (67)



Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Lambert 3, Short 2, Butler 2, Rioli, Vlastuin, Caddy, Edwards

Sydney: Franklin 4, Ronke 2, Florent 2, Parker 2, Hayward



Richmond: Riewoldt, Edwards, Lambert, Vlastuin, Cotchin, Nankervis, Astbury

Sydney: Kennedy, Franklin, Hewett, Parker, Lloyd


Crowd: 43,159




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. Well done Joe.

    One slight correction. Oliver (Ollie) Florent would probably feel a sense of pride that you have mis-named him in honour of his late father, former tennis pro, Andrew.

  2. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks Mark

    I stared at the name for ten minutes after I wrote it and couldn’t figure out why I was looking at it. Now I know.

    Apologies to the Florent family.

  3. Why does the AFL insist on scheduling games on a work night? I missed it, the most anticipated game since the last highly anticipated game, because I was at the ballet with mum. We watched the live stream during the intermissions and we saw the last few minutes on the tram afterwards. I watched the whole game on Friday night instead of the Bulldogs v. North game. Go Tiges!

  4. Keiran Croker says

    Great report Joe. If only the Swans field kicking was as accurate as our goal kicking, it let us down repeatedly, while the Tigers were sharp, quick and clean. We did well to hang in.

    Lambert is terrific, so glad that you guys gave him a go after waiting so long for a chance.

    Hope Conca is back sooner than later, sounds like not as bad as first thought. So hard to see those incidents at games, I was there when Browny broke his leg. Can’t look at replays. The players response on Thursday night was special.

  5. Joe De Petro says

    Going to work on the morning after a game just doesn’t feel right. When are we supposed to watch the replay, right Gill?

    Thanks for the kind words, Keiran. Your Swans went all right on Thursday night. They took it right up to the Tiges. Lambert and Conca for that matter are heart and soul players and both are highly respected at the club. Lambert’s story of repeated rejection before getting his chance is a beauty.

  6. Entertaining match… and write up Joe.

    Some games have thst midway lull, this one seemed to keep firing on all cylinders across the ground.

    Not overly familiar with thus ground when I’m booking tickets, so I was pleasantly surprised as our seats sere right on the race… and being in the second row, my youngest, Hugo, and I were in the best spot to see that brilluant goal by Rioli… he has that uncanny knack to grab the ball and kick, no matter what position he’s in, and in this case, score.

    Re Etihad,, i dont love or hate it, it seems to polarise people,,,but, I will say that no matter what entrance I come through, I’m never where I think I am. A bit like a casino, where you can lose your bearings …north/south east/west locket/Coventry ..

  7. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks KatW. That is exactly what I don’t like about the ground. It is too uniform, it has no character or atmosphere, every bay is like every other bay. We had a few ticketing shenanigans last Thursday but that is another story, we did have great view though so can’t complain.

    Rioli is a beauty, two games back and two more goals for the highlight reel. We need more Riolis!

  8. Excellent write-up, Joe.

    I must say that I totally agree with you regarding the umpiring. I am no apologist for Rance, but the free-kicks to Franklin were a joke. Some of the post-game talk was on Franklin’s 4-goal performance, but really, 2 of them were for undeserved free-kicks and he had 6 kicks and 3 handballs in total for the match. Rance well and truly got the points for mine.

    And it must be very pleasing for Tigers fans to have scored a win on the road!!

  9. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks, Smokie.

    Disco umpires like Razor Ray love to be part of the show. Rance tends to beat Franklin but Franklin always gets a few goals against him. They are both good players and their clashes are always fun to watch, Ray Ray should just keep out of it.

    We would have preferred to play it at the MCG but I guess we can’t play every game there.

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