People keep asking me if I’m nervous about the footy but I’m not until late on Saturday afternoon. We’re a different team and a different club to the one that ventured to the Gabba in 2001 and got shredded by the Lions or the one whose heroic winning streak hit a brick against Port in Adelaide in 2014. But the fact is, we’ve never won an interstate final.
Also, at least twice that I know of, we’ve played in the first week of the finals the team we had just beaten in the last home and away round. And we lost both of them. This was to the Bombers in 2001 and North in 2015. The simple fact is that both teams tanked those home and away games. Essendon with some subtlety in 2001 and North without shame in 2015.
Yes, things are different now. But still…
I spend two hours cooking an excellent dinner which I hope we can enjoy like civilised people at the table before the footy. But in fact, it’s not ready until bang on 7.25 so we eat on the couch. Roasted veg, pork and fennel sausages, flathead fillets and, for my Richmond-barracking daughter, a simple potato and cauli fritter that I whipped up right at the end. My plate is piled with food but the nerves have kicked in and I’ve never felt less hungry in my life.
I’m glad that we kick the first two goals because, despite the many Tiger fans at the ground, this sounds like a real interstate final with a hostile crowd. They seem to boo everything any of our players do. And I’m worried about the weather too. My phone told me it was 27 degrees before the game started and this will surely make it hard for our boys to run the game out.
Riewoldt kicks the first from the 50 after winning a holding-the-ball free. It’s true that his opponent had almost no prior opportunity but nobody does these days and the commentators make more of this than I want. Speaking of the commentators, they include Darcy whom I can’t abide. In the opening minutes he makes a reference to Grimes’ reputation “…around the industry…” The industry! Why do we let Marketing Departments tell us how to speak?
Shedda makes a great snap for goal number two and maybe this will be our night? Maybe we’ll crush the Lions early and silence the crowd and hold them at arms-length for the rest of the game?
It’s not to be though. Brisbane attack and attack again and we can’t seem to break clear. They have five points on the board in no time and we’re very lucky that they can’t kick straight. Then they have their first goal and the crowd goes off and then their second and they’re in front and then two more before the first break and we’re on the ropes.
Quarter time score: Brisbane 4.6.30 to Richmond 3.0.18
The second term begins well when Caddy takes the ball from the middle and finds Cotch who out-marks Hodge in the pocket. But our captain misses from an angle and we have our first point of the night. Maybe things aren’t going to go our way? Riewoldt makes a great attempt at a high mark and the ball spills loose and one of our brilliant crumbers will surely kick a goal. But no, a free kick is awarded against Riewoldt for in-the-back which is simply ridiculous.
Lynch takes what I count as his third mark from a clearing kick but then he kicks it backwards and we turn the ball over. Someone needs to tell our players that the Wallace and Frawley kick-it-backwards-at-all-times era is over. We’re Richmond and we kick it forward!
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Saturday 8 September 2019 7.25pm
Shai Bolton flies and holds the mark. It’s an absolute ripper but his kick is even better. It finds Lynch 15 from goal who goes back and kicks it. Suddenly we look a much better team and we’re only three points down.
Rainer is playing well for Brisbane and takes a great mark. Grimes and Cameron are having a good tussle and when Cameron helps Grimes to his feet I realise why my daughter loves Charlie so much.
Richmond attack again but Brisbane win it back and move the ball very easily into the 50 where Rayner marks but misses from 45 out. This is a big let-off for us. Darcy annoys me again by saying the Tigers are having “the rub of the green.” Maybe a bit of luck with the umpires, but Riewoldt would disagree.
We are lucky though with Brisbane’s kicking for goals which is terrible. Cameron gets free and snaps and misses. Hodge is doing well in defence, even though the Chanel Seven commentators say so. The Lions attack well again but Grimes takes a mark on the last line of defence and wins a 50 as well. The ball gets to Caddy who bombs it long into the 50, Lynch flies but doesn’t mark, Rioli gathers and goals and we’re two points up with seven minutes left in the quarter. The Lions have outplayed us everywhere but can’t kick straight while we don’t seem able to miss.
Rayner misses an easy one to emphasise this. Graham makes a huge tackle in the middle and wins a free but the Lions rebound again. With four minutes left McStay out-marks Vlaustin. Tigger and Houli, too, are not having their usual great games. But the luck is with us as McStay misses from right in front. The Tigers rebound quickly, Dusty is one-out in the forward line, marks and goals. We have just done to Brisbane what teams used to do to us several times a game, every game, from about 1983 to 2016.
McInerney wins a free for falling over but misses from close range. We rebound again, Dusty wins the footy, finds Bolton with a handpass and Bolton steams in with nobody near him and kicks a goal. It’s half-time and after being outplayed for most of the first term and a fair bit of the second, we’re 11 points up.
Half-time score: Brisbane 4.10.34 to Richmond 7.3.45
The third term starts very well for us. Presty and Shedda combine to get the ball to Martin who wins a free for a clear hold and kicks a goal from close range. Then Shedda wins the ball again, kicks it to Rioli who ought to play on and goal but instead kicks it to Bolton who is out-marked. This is a mistake our forwards make too often – dishing off the footy instead of taking responsibility and kicking the goal themselves. Sometimes that “team-first” rubbish can really hurt you. But I’m being very picky, we’re three goals up in the third term in an interstate final and I just need something to worry about.
Shedda is having a huge game. The quarter isn’t half over and he’s had 14 contested possessions. With Martin in the forward line he’s running the midfield like he owns it. We attack again and this time Rioli hogs the footy, as he should, while Botlon keeps the Brisbane defender away from him. Young Dan bounces and almost loses the footy, but gets it back, has another bounce and goals from close range and we’re four goals up and this is starting to feel very good.
Not long after this Rioli snaps again but misses. Then Riewoldt taps a boundary throw-in to Dusty who runs in and goals again. It’s his fourth and he’s unstoppable and Richmond are five goals in front.
Bolton picks up the footy and kicks it out on the full, proving that not everything we do is perfect, but at least not adding to our measly total of behinds. The commentator, Mark Soderstrom, is still calling him “Shy” Bolton, although it is fairly well-known that his name is pronounced “Shay,” as in Guevara. My daughter points out, “It’s his frickin’ job to know how to say players’ names!”
Things really are going our way. Hodge, who is having a very good game, kicks out-on-the-full and Lynch marks the resulting free without too much trouble and kicks the goal. We’re six goals up and have kicked eight in a row. The Lions last goal was in the first quarter but they’ve added a bundle of behinds since then.
Shedda takes a massive, very brave mark, running back and leaping with the flight of the footy. He gets it to Caddy who kicks a goal from the 50 and we’re 41 points up. My other daughter and my partner dish up a pear and blueberry galette with ice-cream and we are living the life.
McCluggage, whose name I can’t quite believe, gets one for the Lions and then Shedda takes another great mark. We break-away down the field, Caddy runs along the wing, gets it to Bolton who finds Castagna who snaps and goals from 40 out. Then Dusty gets his fifth and we’re 46 points up and I’m starting to believe that we’ll probably win and daring to admit that I’m actually enjoying this.
Vlaustin helps Cameron to his feet after a contest and I’ve always loved Tigger. This gentlemanly conduct might have to stop as Christensen gets Brisbane’s second goal of the quarter just before the siren and we’re 38 points up at the last break.
From memory, this is what we trailed the Lions by at half-time in the prelim in 2001.
Three-quarter time score: Brisbane 6.14.50 to Richmond 14.4.88
My partner, bless her, has come up with a great nick-name for Grimes – The Cleaner. D-Grimes = The Cleaner. Which describes his game completely, he just cleans up.
Brisbane start the last term as they have played all night. McCarthy out-marks Baker but misses from 20 out with not much angle and they now have 6.15 for their night’s work. Rioli goes down and looks to have a problem with his ankle, then he’s off the ground and the doctor is taking a look.
Caddy gives away a 50 for some reason on our forward 50 and McCluggage marks in the Brisbane forward line and misses. Rioli’s ankle is being bandaged, there’s 13 left in the term and we’re six goals up. I’m not relaxed about the result. If Brisbane ever work out that they should kick between the big sticks they could have six goals in no time. I want us to kick two more to finish them off. Then Riewoldt kicks one and I feel safe. It should never have been a goal – Dusty blatantly threw it to him, scooping the ball off the ground, but he got away with it.
Maybe we have been lucky tonight.
Lachie Neale, who has been good, if not quite as busy as last week, gets a goal for the Lions but the match seems to be over. The crowd is 37,478, which is a record footy crowd for the Gabba. Brisbane kick another point and Richmond are up by 35 with 10 minutes left. Brisbane attack but Shedda takes yet another great mark in defence and sends us into attack. Dusty gathers the ball on the 50 and kicks his sixth goal and I think we might be home.
Then we win a free and a 50 in the forward line and Riewoldt kicks another and we’re 47 points up, the same as Soldo’s number. Our supporters are singing “Tigerland” and all is right with the world. Rioli is back on and makes a great tackle. We’re 47 points up, there’s seven minutes left and he’s still throwing himself into it.
Martin wins a free on the 50, the ball gets to Caddy who makes room for himself and goals and we’re 53 points up. Christensen gets one back for the Lions and only then do I realise that the Lions too have been afflicted with the electronic roar, may our respective Marketing Departments burn in hell.
The siren sounds and we’ve kicked 18.4, the second-most accurate kicking of any team in any final and the most accurate score I can remember the Tigers kicking ever. In the second half we’ve kicked 11.1 to 4.7. Our players look happy and there seems to be lots of good will between our players and theirs. I could be wrong though, victory does give one a particular view of things.
Final Score: Brisbane 8.17.65 to Richmond 18.4.112
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We’re allowed one rendition of Tigerland before a truly awful ad booms out over the ground’s PA. If I didn’t have such a malign view of marketing departments, I would swear that fascist aliens had taken over and were issuing instructions. Then a very loud ground announcer is heard and what a relief it is not to have the ends of games ruined by the singing and cheering of supporters. I can’t imagine anything worse than that.
Shedda is interviewed and is predictably modest, saying his team-mates did all the hard work on the inside to get the ball to him. This is quite a thing to say after you’ve won 18 contested footies.
It’s a great night for the Tigers. Remember that awful night in round two, our first game without Rance, when Collingwood pulled us apart? Or two weeks before the bye when Geelong humiliated us at the ‘G? (They didn’t complain about playing at the ‘G that night). Or that awful run of injuries to our best players? And now we’re in a prelim, against Geelong or West Coast, with two weeks to prepare for it.
But to keep things in perspective, we’ve been lucky. Brisbane kicked their way out of this one and had three more scoring shots than us. Especially in the first and second quarters, had they kicked straight we would have been in all sorts. And had we not kicked straight at our end, who knows?
Shedda has been magnificent, the best game I’ve seen him play and he’s played some beauties. Presty has been great in the middle too. Dusty has been quite handy in our forward line and six goals is not to be sneezed at. Soldo has been great in the ruck and, it may be blasphemous to say so, but he’s playing better than Toby. Quite often he puts the ball down the throat of his team-mates. And our defenders, despite the massive pressure they were under early in the game, have stood up. Grimes has been outstanding and Astbury has been good too. Baker and Short have been good. Houli and Vlaustin have not played their usual games but have battled away to the end.
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Edwards 5, Prestia 4, Martin 3, Soldo 2, Grimes 1
Edwards, Lynch 28
Cotchin, Bolton 7
Castagna, Soldo 6
Nankervis, Graham 5
Baker, Broad 4
Astbury, Ross, Naish 2
Rioli, Balta 1
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2019: Caddy, Grigg, Houli, Lynch, Nankervis, Prestia, Townsend and Weller)
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player:for anyone who was yet to debut before round 1
(Eligible 2019: Balta, Coleman-Jones, Collier-Dawkins, Miller, Naish, Ross, Turner, Stack)
Ross, Naish 2
Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot:for left footers
(Eligible 2019: Chol, Grigg, Nankervis and Houli)
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal:
upgraded from the rookie list during the current season
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy:
For the Tiges top tackler in 2019
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