Round 2 – Adelaide v Richmond: Southern Hospitality


After their glorious triumph over the Crows in the 2017 Grand Final, the residents of Punt Road in Melbourne have to be on their guard when visiting South Australia.


The club needs to be wary of any offers of rest and recreation from their hosts. A wine tasting trip to the Barossa Valley could see Richmond players served with draughts that taste suspiciously like vinegar. A cruise around Kangaroo Island with a spot of snorkelling might result in them being fed to the sharks off Seal Bay. A proposal to visit the “art gallery” could mean being dropped off at the Elizabeth police station and being left in a cell with a group of Centrals supporters about to be photographed for mugshots. An excursion to “the snow” should be avoided at all costs. It means a one-way ticket to Snowtown.


Not unless the hospitality comes from Port Adelaide, the only organisation within the state to approve of what Richmond did to the Crows last year. It might be safe to accept their invitation to a guided tour of the Maritime Museum of South Australia followed by lunch at Subway on Port Road.


It’s an opportune time for Richmond to play Adelaide. The Crows had their wings clipped by Essendon last weekend after leading by 20 points at three-quarter time. Their pre-season form has been unimpressive. Seven members of their Grand Final team are missing and tonight’s line-up includes three second-gamers in Fogarty, Doedee and Murphy.


What’s more, reports have surfaced of a number of Crows being traumatised during their pre-season training camp on the Gold Coast. They were allegedly separated from the main group and subjected to repeated renditions of Richmond’s anthem as part of a ‘cleansing process’. An irate Tex Walker, returning to the Adelaide line-up after an injury-interrupted pre-season, texted his clubmates and warned them not to talk to anyone about what happened.


Watching on TV, I anticipate a hostile reception from the home fans when the Tigers enter the arena. Instead it’s nothing out of the ordinary; just what any visiting team can expect. Richmond’s song is played over the public address system. Perhaps this latest rendition is causing Adelaide supporters to revisit the nightmare from the end of their last campaign.


I’m fairly confident that Richmond can pull off a successful raid. The standard of the game is every bit as lively as one would expect from the teams that played off for the title last September. The biggest surprise is Josh Jenkins. Just like Harry Taylor when Richmond played Geelong at Skilled Stadium last year, Jenkins somehow outplays Alex Rance. He scores two goals in the opening 20 minutes and could have had four. The Crows surge to a 20-point lead early in the second term before running into trouble. Matt Crouch has been gathering possessions at will before exiting proceedings for good with a hamstring injury. Rory Sloane spends time on the bench receiving treatment for his ankle. The Tigers strike back with the next three goals. In the second half Mackay is concussed before being removed from proceedings and Daniel Talia, who has effectively countered Jack Riewoldt, is hobbling with a knee injury.


The Crows are in danger of running out of personnel late in the game.


Rance takes five marks in the third quarter and plays himself back into the match. After trailing by 22 points at the last change, Richmond draws to within nine points at the eight-minute mark of the final quarter when Martin boots his fourth and fifth goals. With a number of playmakers such as Cotchin, Riewoldt, Houli and Lambert well down on form, it has been the indomitable Dusty who has kept Richmond in the game. Surely the Tigers are about to follow their indestructible leader and run right over the top of the undermanned Crows.


But Martin can’t do it on his own. The normally unflappable David Astbury commits a couple of crucial errors. An errant kick backwards is pounced on by a grateful Taylor Walker. Next he kicks out on the full, Sloane commandeers the free and slots it from the boundary. Edwards drops a mark when sprinting into the forward fifty with an open goal before him and slips over. The ball is cleared and Jenkins kicks his fifth. That’s three goals in three minutes to the home team and their lead climbs to an insurmountable 27 points.


There’s no denying that the Crows have risen to the challenge, overcome the odds and comprehensively outplayed their Grand Final tormentors. Rory Laird has covered for the absent Matt Crouch. Sloane, Gibbs, Greenwood, Kelly and Ellis-Yolmen are relentless in their attack on the ball. Sauce Jacobs has dominated the ruck. Walker boots his fourth after overcoming his early-game jitters. The Crows might have found something in that new boy trio of Fogarty, Murphy and Doedee. Hats off to the Pride of South Australia.


One tends to forget that Grand Final heroes are only human and winning sprees don’t last forever. Richmond won’t be the last team this year to receive some southern hospitality from the Crows on their home turf.




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