Perth Stadium, Saturday 12 June 2021Embed from Getty Images
By my calculations, if Richmond are to make the top-four we have only one or two losses left and this had better not be one of them. On the other hand, winning in Perth is never easy and I can’t remember when we last beat the Eagles there.
Presti is out injured but Lambert is back in which is huge. Apparently, the Eagles also have some good players injured but I don’t care about them.
In any case we start well. C C-Jones almost pulls of a very good mark, Aarts gets a point for us, the first score of the game and Chol wins the first three ball-ups against Natanui. Riewoldt kicks the first goal with a clever soccer kick – he’s got a few of these lately – after Pickett had sent in a long pass. Unfortunately, Naitanui soon gets one for the Eagles, a very clever snap from the boundary. The Tigers respond with a good period in which they dominate but don’t score. Vlaustin is doing well in defence and sends a long kick into the forward line. Riewoldt marks and kicks the goal and with half the first term gone we lead 2.2 to 1.0.Embed from Getty Images
Bloody Kennedy marks twice and goals, once from close in and once from 45 out and the Eagles clearly have their kicking boots on.
But it’s still been a good quarter for us at a hostile venue. Our best players have been Vlaustin, Chol and Houli. Grimes has done well too.
Quarter time score: West Coast 3.0.18 to Richmond 2.2.14
Early in the quarter Bolton has a very good chance but his kick goes out on the full. The Eagles have evidently sprinkled all the magic goal-kicking dust on their own boots. Caddy hits the post from 45 out on a tight angle. I actually thought he did well to hit the post. West Coast rebound too easily through the middle, Cripps marks and goals and we really need the next one.Embed from Getty Images
Into attack we go, Rioli wins a free for high contact on the 50, but Graham takes the advantage, plays on and goals and it’s 4.0 to 3.3. Another promising attack is ruined by a poor kick into the forward line. The Eagles rebound again and Oscar Allen goals from a set shot, 55m out. If we are to win this, we just can’t let the Eagles have the footy in their forward half. Nor in their back half, for that matter.
But just as I’m starting to think that this might be too hard, Dusty gathers and goals from the boundary as if it were the most basic skill in footy. The silence of the crowd is eloquent. Best of all is that Dusty had taken the footy from the ball-up in which, effectively, Richmond didn’t even have a ruck. He just stole the ball from the Eagles’ tap and away he went.Embed from Getty Images
Bolton marks, plays on and kicks to C C-Jones who marks and wins a 50 for late contact. I think it’s a fair call but there seem to be West Coast fans who disagree. It’s an easy goal and we’re in front again, 5.3 to 5.0. Then Aarts refuses to be tackled, runs in and goals on the run from 45 out and the young feller seems quite at home in this team. The quarter is half over and we’re in front by nine points.
It gets better when Bolton flies very high without marking, Lambert then gets the footy, runs in and goals and it’s a big welcome back to the Pride of Preston and we’re 15 points in front. Sadly, the Eagles don’t go away and win a free for high contact against Grimes. Jones goals from the set shot and the Eagles still haven’t missed which is disturbing. Broad does very well to stop another West Coast attack but his clearing kick is marked by Waterman who goals – of course – from 45. We lead by three points.
At some point West Coast get a point which must annoy them. Pickett wins a ruck contest – yes, Pickett – and taps the ball to Bolton who sends a long kick to Riewoldt who takes a very good mark but misses the set shot. The siren goes and we’ve won the quarter. Pickett and Bolton have been good but the whole team has been solid.
Half-time score: West Coast 7.1.43 to Richmond 7.5.47
West Coast begin the second half in more promising fashion by having two kicks spoiled on the line with no forwards there to make good. The game becomes very slow and tactical. McIntosh does well but one set shot hits the post and his second misses too. But he makes amends when his pass is marked by C C-Jones who kicks the first goal of the quarter with 7.30 left on the clock. Once again, the crowd silence is a thing of beauty.Embed from Getty Images
West Coast attack again and somehow Baker, all five foot eight of him, manages to spoil the mark. The Tigers rebound and once again McIntosh is involved and Castagna trots into an open goal and kicks it. We lead 9.8 to 7.3. Naitanui wins a free for in-the-back, plays on, shrugs away the tackler as if he were a loose scrap of paper in a light breeze and kicks to Ryan who has somehow found himself by himself. He goals from 30m out and when the siren goes we’re up by two goals.
It’s been a good quarter for us. Vlaustin has been good again and so has McIntosh. We’ve been very disciplined and have stopped West Coast’s tiresome kick-and-mark game. I’m hopeful that we’ll finish strongly.
Three-quarter time score: West Coast 8.3.51 to Richmond 9.9.63
In the last term the Tigers cover themselves in glory until they don’t. The Eagles get it back to one goal when Kennedy marks and goals from an angle, again. Oscar Allen misses after taking a good mark and playing on. I have thought all game that if they could just start missing their shots, we might win this. But they attack again and again and we can’t seem to find a way out. Castagna makes a mark-saving spoil deep in the back line. At last the Tigers rebound, Dusty makes a tackle, Bolton gathers and gives it back to Dusty who runs in and kicks it along the ground and through the big sticks.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
A minute later Lambert goals off a step from just inside the 50 and we lead by 17 points with five minutes gone. Oscar Allen wins a very dubious free kick for a dangerous tackle, right in front. As sometimes happens, he can’t believe it’s a free kick either and sportingly misses the easy shot. If only they could keep missing…
There follows a long period where the ball stays in the West Coast forward line, but eventually we break away again and Bolton goals on the run from 50m and surely we can win this now? We lead by 22 points but there 11 minutes left – which is a long time, as Lou Richards used to say, “the way footy’s played today.”
Someone says that fatigue might become a factor. For unknown reasons, Richmond, who played in Perth last Saturday, had flown back to Sydney after the game and then back to Perth for this one. I know that flying 8000km is not quite as hard as walking 8000km, but still. Why did they do that? West Coast haven’t travelled anywhere.
In any case, mistakes start to happen. Grimes throws the footy and Waterman just sneaks in the free kick for a goal. We attack again but stuff up the last kick into the 50 and West Coast rebound. Cripps goals and we lead by 10 points with seven minutes left.
Baker gives away a free for deliberate out-of-bounds but Ryan manages only a point. Naitanui takes a great mark in a pack but misses from close range. Is it possible they could kick their way out of this? But the poor kicking is contagious and Vlaustin’s kick-in is the worst I’ve seen him do. It just clears Pickett’s head and goes into the arms of Edwards – their Edwards, not ours – on the 50 who kicks calmly to Oscar Allen who marks and goals from close range. It’s down to a few points now and the Eagles are all over us.Embed from Getty Images
We have another chance for a goal but again the last kick lets us down as Castagna kicks it straight to Hurn at full-back. From there the Eagles rebound quickly. Yeo sends a long kick toward Broad and Ryan. Ryan gathers the loose footy and kicks it 1450mm to Kennedy who is awarded the mark and goals from a tight angle. Again. There are 36 seconds left and all is not lost.Embed from Getty Images
It does seem to be though when the Eagles win the tap at the re-start. But Grimes wins the footy back for us. We need one more bit of luck and we might have it when Grimes might have given away a free for in-the-back but there’s no whistle. He kicks to Chol who takes the ball an inch off the deck and handpasses to Vlaustin who is steaming past. Vlaustin’s kick is spilled by Riewoldt just outside the 50 but he gathers the loose ball and gets it to Martin who runs out of the centre square and lets fly from the 50. It’s two-against-two in our forward line but Hurn swallows it again and it’s all over.Embed from Getty Images
It has been a great game, but gee it hurts to lose. Especially to a club with such an awful jumper and wretched song. But I’m being small-minded. The Eagles were very good. They seem to take goal-kicking practice very seriously. And they’ve come back from four goals down half-way through the last quarter.
Hard to pick our best players, as usual. Lambert has been great on his return. The defenders have all done well in a tough gig, but Vlaustin might have been the best of them. And it will be forgotten, as we lost this game and didn’t kick a goal in the last half-minute, but the composure and skill of Grimes, Chol, Vlaustin, Riewoldt and Martin right at the end is something they should be proud of.Embed from Getty Images