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I have a mixed record of listening to Richmond games while cooking. There was the stirring win against Port a few weeks go as I rolled out naan bread to go with our first meal in our newly-renovated house. But then there was the final against Carlton in 2013. Some soul-preserving force had stopped me going to that game. Instead I prepared a roast dinner while listening to Richmond crush the Blues in the first half.
By half-time the dinner was in the oven and the kitchen was clean and tidy. I sat down and life turned to shit.
Still, I was quietly confident about this game. The Port game had given me some hope and without knowing much about Port or Freo, I had a feeling they were similarly ranked. Tough but not invincible.
Of course, it wouldn’t be on telly. And then I even had trouble finding it on the radio. Then I realised I’d mis-read the start time – 5.20 not 3.20. But even at 5.20 the local ABC was still blathering about the Hawks. I used my phone and listened to it that way but for no good reason it kept cutting out, so my knowledge of the game is patchy.
Anyway, it started well for us. Bolton had a goal in no time, then Lynch got one, then Bolton got another before I lost reception for the first time and Lambert made it four. It was reminding me of the Freo game in 2015 when we couldn’t miss.
Bolton’s second goal was notable. On the tv highlights the commentators described Houli’s grubber into the forward line as “a poor kick.” Bollocks. It gave our small forwards an excellent chance of winning it at ground level. What’s so poor about that? For 20 years I’ve been whingeing about how we keep bombing it long even when we’re always out-marked in the forward line. I’d be very happy to see more “poor” kicks like Houli’s.
Freo got a few back then. Lobb marked and goaled, way too tall for our depleted defence. And Conca, whom we wish well but not too well, passed perfectly to Hogan who marked right in front. He may have missed the shot though. At the first break it was us in front, 4.3.27 to 3.2.20.
Unfortunately, the second quarter was less fun. Freo fought their way back into it, Tank gave away two 50-meter penalties that resulted in a Freo goal and then left the ground with a bad groin. He was back before half time – something that I never like to see. How much painkiller and local anaesthetic had they given him? But he couldn’t move, the commentators said, and he was soon off again. Freo scored and scored again and soon were level.
They didn’t run over the top of us though as you might have expected. Our boys are made of sterner stuff than that. Balta kicked the ball a mile and Lynch went backwards with the flight to take a great grab. The Tigers had extended their lead to 13 points at big break. This was despite Ross going off with what seemed to be a bad ankle injury after Fyfe stepped on him. I’m sure he didn’t mean to.
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In the second half Baker opened the scoring with a big kick on the run following some fast hands and a very clever knock-on from Martin. Richmond’s skills were dazzling at times. The radio commentators – who were parochial, but who knew class when they saw it – described one passage of play as like “the Harlem Globetrotters.” It began with a clever Menadue kick along the boundary, followed by two more clever touches by unidentified players before it went to Martin who found Ellis with a handball. With Higgins free in the pocket he went instead to the top of the square to the contest which Freo won. Full credit to them to defend so well against a team so skilful.
Broad was in the ruck now, sharing the job with Balta, and actually won a centre bounce. Of course, Freo ended up with the footy and scored. What does the ruck actually matter anyway?
Ellis more than made up for his imperfect pass with a massive tackle on Wilson. It was text-book hard footy for the modern age. Completely bowled him over, won the free kick but didn’t drive him into the turf nor endanger his head. One for the training video that one.
At the last break Richmond looked a real chance, 13.8.86 to 8.11.59.
In the last term a classic Tiger forward-line scramble caused a turnover and Bolton scored his fourth. The pressure by the forwards was magnificent all day and there was polish in converting the chances.
Then Martin scored from a fair way out with the outside of his boot and we were up by 44 points and the game was ours. Freo got the last three goals but if our boys were in “don’t-let-anyone-else-get-injured” mode by then, I can’t blame them.
Richmond 17.9.111 to Freo 12.14.86
As I say my knowledge of this game is patchy, based on radio commentary and a few viewings of the highlights on YouTube. It didn’t even get covered in next day’s Age, despite the game finishing by 8pm. The paper version of the Age just pretended the game never happened. Yet it was a very good win by the Tigers against the odds. The pressure in the forward line and around the ground was constant and there were some amazing goals. Castagna took the cake with his dance around two opponents and the umpire, while finding time and space to bounce the ball. And his finish was all class.
Votes go to Bolton (5), Ellis (4), Houli (3), Grimes (2) and Castagna (1). But actually, they could go to the whole team. How can you win in Perth with almost half your team missing, lose another two players before half time and still win by a good margin? Only if everyone plays out of their skin, which they clearly did.
Vlastuin, Grimes 14
Martin, Bolton, Houli 6
Cotchin, Broad, Lambert 3
Ross, Baker 2
Rioli, Castagna 1
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2018: 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)
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
Nankervis, Castagna 28