Round 4 – Port Adelaide v Richmond: The “Fab Four” no more

Port Adelaide v Richmond

4:05PM, Saturday April 13

Adelaide Oval





It was in April 1970 that Paul McCartney confirmed their fans’ worst fears by announcing that The Beatles had split.


“I have no future plans to record or appear with The Beatles again, or to write any music with John.”


No more Fab Four. And there is no more Fab Four for Richmond 49 years later when Dustin Martin is suspended for two weeks (reduced to one) for his behind the play hit on Adam Kennedy last Saturday. No Rance, Riewoldt or Cotchin in the team to meet the Power at the Adelaide Oval. It’s  the first time since 2008 that a Tiger line-up had not featured any of this redoubtable Gang of Four who were the mainstays of Richmond’s return to glory in 2017.


The image of a stricken Rance on crutches being comforted by Riewoldt after the first round win over Carlton was looking like the image that might summarise a doomed 2019 campaign. Could Richmond still be contenders if their talismanic defender was sitting in the stand for the remainder of the year? Eight of the last nine best and fairests were won by one of Cotchin, Martin, Riewoldt or Rance (broken only by Daniel Jackson in 2013) and Riewoldt has headed the goalkicking for the past nine years. Substantial defeats to Collingwood and GWS confirmed the predictions of many that the Tigers had been tamed.


Instability. There were six changes to Richmond’s outfit from the previous outing in Sydney. To compound matters Houli felt his hamstring wasn’t quite right and was replaced in the selected side by Menadue. Hardwick intones the standard ‘adversity brings opportunity’ mantra just as he has to. By necessity – with a number of handy fringe players leaving for greener pastures over the summer – the Tigers have brought an inexperienced combination across the border. Jack Ross makes his debut and joins second-gamer Sydney Stack, Liam Baker (two games), Noah Balta (three) and Shai Bolton (ten).


Seizing a few wins despite the missing personnel is essential. Otherwise there is a risk that the team could fall out of contention.


In the first term it appears as though the Tigers have rediscovered the swarming forward half pressure that was applied with such devastating effect in the past two seasons. Unfortunately they waste their shots at goal while the Power are more productive, spearing passes from flank to flank and avoiding Richmond’s invitations to advance through the central corridor and become trapped in their defensive web. Stand-in captain Shane Edwards had posed on social media with Winter Olympian Steven Bradbury in a nod to the fact that he had ascended to the captaincy after everyone else had fallen over; just like Bradbury when he won that miraculous gold medal in 2002 with his opponents sprawled all over the ice. Now Edwards plays loose across half back and attempts to cut the Port prime movers off at the pass.


Half way through the second quarter the Tigers are adrift by 14 points and are looking vulnerable. While Port’s promising recruits in Butters and Rozee are finding the going a bit tougher this time round, Rockliff and Boak are accumulating possessions like they’re piling up the plate at an all-day buffet. Ebert is dangerous in attack and Robbie Gray looks like he’s about to cut loose with some ducking, dodging, weaving and opportunist six-pointers.


Then Tom Lynch kicks a double in the third stanza. Ten minutes in he runs into an open goal, pops it through and is pushed in the back by Ryan Burton. The umpire immediately awards a free and the big blonde gleefully accepts the opportunity to pop it through again. The Tigers are up by four points and increase their lead to 15 points before a couple of defensive errors allow Port to claw their way back to within two points at the final break.


The game is on a knife edge in the last quarter and the lead changes four times. These matches are excruciating to witness; perhaps more so on TV where you can’t see what’s happening up the field.   You earnestly beseech the Almighty that your boys will be in front when they ring the bell.


Tom Lynch boots his fifth and the Tigers lead by nine. Then the home team attacks relentlessly and dominates inside-fifty entries. The Richmond defence struggles to safeguard the safety of the castle under the pressure of the barbarians at the gate. Where will the Tiger leadership come from? Who can provide the creative spark in a nail-biting pressure situation? A courageous Dylan Grimes plays Rance’s role with aplomb and hauls in a number of brilliant defensive marks. Edwards, Vlaustin and Stack support the heroic efforts of Richmond’s number two. Wines regains the lead for the Power before Caddy soccers his third to put the Tigers up again. Houston replies for the home team after an errant pass from Grimes. Then Castagna fires out a handball to McIntosh who scores with a clever left foot snap to put the Tigers two points clear. Fourth-gamer Xavier Duursma takes a towering mark only 20 metres out from Port’s goal. This is the moment. His shot sails wide! There’s a point in it with less than a minute to go. The Tigers counter attack. Big-bodied Jack Ross has been a revelation on debut. He handballs to Caddy in heavy traffic, who taps it onto Baker. Baker finds Lynch out the back. The ex-Sun coolly slots his sixth at the 30-minute mark and the Tigers are up by seven points. Ross takes another grab and advises everyone to calm down. Lynch marks his kick and passes to Edwards who passes to Lambert and the siren sounds!


Richmond’s Fab Four will tread the boards again. Dusty returns for the bout with Sydney at Marvel stadium on the Easter weekend. Riewoldt and Cotchin will re-appear in the next few weeks. A group of Richmond cubs have taken the opportunity to demonstrate that they belong in the big league. Just like drummer Jimmie Nicol, who replaced an ill Ringo Starr for the first eight shows of the Beatles tour of the Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand in 1964, maybe the Tigers can get by until Alex returns to the stage next year.



PORT ADELAIDE                  4.1       7.3       11.6     14.8 (92)
RICHMOND                             2.5       6.8       11.8     15.9 (99)


Port Adelaide: S Gray 3, Ebert 2, R Gray 2, Wines 2, Powell-Pepper, Ryder, Burton, Drew, Houston
Richmond: Lynch 6, Caddy 3, Prestia, Bolton, Ellis, Baker, Nankervis, McIntosh


Port Adelaide: Rockliff, Houston, Ebert, Boak, Jonas, Byrne-Jones
Richmond: Ellis, Grimes, Lynch, Prestia, Edwards, Ross


Crowd: 38,864




  1. Stainless says

    Well that was really a win for the true believers as one P. Keating once said. The early rounds of 2019 have been hugely unpredictable so I’m not going to make any big statements about what this result might lead to. But what I will say is it’s a glowing endorsement of the recruitment and development going on at Punt Road that five blokes with 10 or less games experience can come in and make such an impact. And even with so many blokes promoted, our VFL side managed an emphatic victory as well.
    BTW – Rulebook and I might both be wrong about the League’s best defender. Rance? Talia? Bleh. If it’s not Dylan Grimes right now then I know nothing about the game.

  2. A most enjoyable game to watch. Full marks to Richmond but I did feel for Port – most unusual for me. After 4 rounds it just goes that making predictions straight after the trial matches conclude are fraught with danger. Not many “experts” predicted the Saints would start so well and over here in SA many (but not me) expected Adelaide to be right up there. (the less said about that the better).

    I’m sure we’ll see many more upsets before this season is completed.

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