Round 16 – Richmond v Adelaide: Hatred at the G

 

“Should” is a great word. It is loaded with expectation and definiteness. It has ominousness in its core.

 

For the Tigers, “should” never ends well – more to the point, it ends in discarded beanies, thrown scarves, pained ranting. Preferable is the comfort of the underdog – it brings calm. Quiet optimism.

 

Now, first on the ladder and flying, Richmond have lost their underdog mantle. To beat them, you must work inconceivably hard for each miniscule victory. It is a position as unfamiliar to once-starved fanatics as their position as Premiers.

 

Tonight at their fortress, Adelaide return to face their September demons. Through Fitzroy Gardens, shadows loom large. History feels in step as the glow beside Jolimont Station blooms.

 

Inside the Colosseum, vitriol is in the air. My father speaks of older times where our hubris rendered us toothless and hatred reigned in the place of today’s love for one another. Tonight does not resonate hate however. It feels like a task, unfinished.

 

Richmond ended the Crows’ season last year. There is a yearning for a repeat performance tonight.

 

I text one of my favourite Tigers, Jack Banister, before the bounce. He seems confident, carefully so.

 

We settle in the Punt Road pocket, my father, brother and I. There are familiar faces about. The hunger has a bloody scent to it.

 

The Crows emerge in white. They are booed, somewhat sullenly. They have a plastic sheen. Richmond’s jet black and lurid yellow hurts the eyes, such is its boldness.

 

Adelaide begin the battle attempting to back-burn the most vicious of bushfires. They try not to extinguish the blaze, but to contain it, with a flood of numbers that suffocates space in Richmond’s half. It is defensive football. It is static football. The Crows have little interest in winning the game, but instead not losing it. As such, Nathan Broad and Brandon Ellis prowl the half-back line – with no Viking in the side, they must maraud in solitude. Yet, the forward entries early are the way of the visitors. Paul Seedsman marks at 55 and hits the ball as sweetly as you could hope.

 

Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert are busy in the midfield and Toby, our Toby, is his dogged self. Callum Moore is bright with early marks, leaps and a brilliant tap that results in a Jack Riewoldt goal.

 

The first quarter is a cautious and thorough examination of the other. Taylor Walker attempts to impose himself and is mocked. The barrackers have no love for the Adelaide captain.

 

Richmond hit top gear mid-way through the second quarter after establishing a quiet dominance. Generally, Richmond either pressure teams into an exhausted, broken husk or slice them into ribbons with frighteningly efficient play. On this night, Richmond are neither, yet both. When needed, they are brutal. When needed, they are sublime. They possess and chase the football with malevolence yet cut perfect lines across the turf.

 

Dan Butler dummies a handball and backs impossibly from a pack. Moore subsequently kicks a goal. Minutes later, he mows down an opponent, finds Jayden Short with room – the diminutive flanker continues an inspired run of form with the Tigers’ fifth.

 

When Jack Riewoldt spills mark of the century, only to gather the ball and snap a frankly obscene major, reality itself ceases to be – the Tigers have transcended time and space and now exist in a dimension where Prestia and Lambert, emboldened, break packs apart with freakish speed and balance. Butler and Rioli are bouncing; Graham unsurpassable. Shane Edwards can’t be touched, let alone tackled. Dutifully, he snaps another on the wrong foot and sends the MCG into delirium. Nankervis is baulking on the wing. Dave Astbury takes a hanger.

 

The Tigers have a stupidly comprehensive two, three, four goal lead for the entire middle passage of the game. Matt Crouch is hunter-gatherer but has nobody to provide his wares to. Josh Jenkins is wasted everywhere except in the goalsquare.

 

Still, those bathed in yellow and black bay for more. I am still wondering what Tex did wrong, but the boos drag down the thought, beat it savagely and drown it in the seething yellow and black river.

 

But Adelaide has a chance yet, within three goals at the final change, a trademark Walker roost from the middle highlighting a gritty quarter. Jack Graham’s arm hangs unhinged at the shoulder. Sloane and Crouch are motoring still.

 

Caddy and Rioli settle and while Tom Doedee dents Nathan Broad’s visage, Richmond’s defence is as stingy as ever. Martin has rediscovered the art of kicking. His scything right boot has swept poorly in 2018 – in the fourth he slices and slews with increasingly nightmarish accuracy.

 

At one point, Walker runs into Myles Poholke in the goalsquare, to a delighted squeal that provides some Punt Roadians with just the slightest sense of injustice. Others direct their vitriol at Adelaide’s embattled skipper with glee.

 

There is a moment where Richmond’s dominance is allowed to flow, as Edwards, Castagna and Brandon Ellis roll in time down the middle, using handball with obscene abandon. However, Moore breaks the rule in the pocket – aptly, once faking the handball and opting for a snap, he misses. We are only a little disappointed.

 

Adelaide improve on the Grand Final by a point in the end. By this rule, they won’t beat Richmond at the MCG until 2066.

 

These are good years. But they must be held dear, for who knows what may follow.

 

RICHMOND    2.3       7.8       9.10     15.13 (103)
ADELAIDE      1.3       4.4       7.6       8.8 (56)

 

GOALS
Richmond:
Edwards 2, Martin 2, Caddy 2, Moore 2, Riewoldt 2, Rioli 2, Short, Butler, Prestia
Adelaide: Jenkins 3, Seedsman, Gallucci, Walker, Fogarty, Greenwood

 

BEST 
Richmond:
Lambert, Edwards, Martin, Astbury, Prestia, Short.
Adelaide: M.Crouch, Sloane, Laird, Greenwood, Doedee

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Comments

  1. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Great report Paddy. What a time to be a Richmond fan! I’m still pinching myself :-)

  2. Great piece. Particularly like the bloody scent to the Tiger hunger. Its been a long and painful climb to the top. lets all enjoy the view for as long as we can. Go Tigies.

  3. Jarrod_L says:

    “Generally, Richmond either pressure teams into an exhausted, broken husk or slice them into ribbons with frighteningly efficient play. On this night, Richmond are neither, yet both.”

    In this line you’ve summed up the entire performance, well done.

    “When Jack Riewoldt spills mark of the century, only to gather the ball and snap a frankly obscene major, reality itself ceases to be…Dave Astbury takes a hanger”

    I think this was the part where suspension of reality transmuted into what can only be described as ‘extracting the urine’, delightful to see.

    As for the Tex boos, I can only put it down to him being the team focal point (as any captain would be, particularly one voted “captain of the year” or somesuch) and the urban legend that went around about having a seat next to him on the flight back to Adelaide booked solely to house the premiership cup. That said, even as a Tiger who derives no joy in seeing Tex thrive, the consistent booing is a bit jarring.

  4. Stainless says:

    Paddy
    I enjoyed this report greatly but not half as much as I enjoyed seeing the Crows’ 2018 campaign officially binned. My only frustration was that it took the Tiges so long to put our dominance on the scoreboard. It should have been a 10-12 goal win.
    The booing of Tex can be put down to several factors. As Jarrod says, he was lauded by many as a “great leader” (AFL captain of the year at least once, twice?) but has been found clearly lacking the “L” quality when it really matters, including his post-Grand Final remarks which many of the Tiger Army regarded as disrespectful. It must be a hard thing to do, admittedly, but it must rate as the worst speech by a losing GF captain.
    As captain, Tex also seems to be copping it on behalf of his club. Richmond people, especially, are enjoying a bit of payback for nearly 30 years of being on the receiving end of many thrashings by the Crows and a good deal of trash talk from across the border about our poor performances, poor player selections and lack of leadership. In an otherwise bland, anonymous team, Tex is the easy, obvious target for our retribution.

  5. Joe De Petro says:

    Good stuff, Paddy. Some of those handball chains through the middle are exhilarating. They pretty much always involve Edwards and on Friday night he figured three times in the same chain. Sadly, it wasn’t a goal. A triple goal assist would some kind of serious stat.

  6. JBanister says:

    Ahh, brilliant. Glad to rate a mention.

    Oddly, when I took in the replay, we were more skilful than I first thought, and more assured, too.
    On the night, so many Crows goals came from our errors. As Stainless says, I reckon we should’ve won by sixty points. Which is usually how I feel when I leave the game these days…

    As for the Texan – you wonder what on earth is going on under the surface at Adelaide. I don’t profess to know, but it looks messy.

    But on the field – I feel some sympathy for Tex. His supply, when the Crows play poorly, is always awful. Problem starts with woeful use off half-back, and in the guts. They wouldn’t take an inside kick or a risk to save themselves on Friday. A shadow of the aggressive side they were last year. They just never took it on. The net result is that when they’re bad, inevitably, Tex is bad, trying to out-mark two opponents, always caught deep, on a hiding to nothing. I reckon it’s the egg before the chicken in this instance…

  7. After so many years the tigers simply make me happy now.
    Thanks for continuing that smile mate. Grrr

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