The Tigers and Crows headed to Western Sydney to ensure their Round 11 clash went ahead, with the reigning premiers surviving two sets of scares from the dogged 2020 wooden spooners.
Adelaide got off the flyer, slotting six first-quarter goals to have everyone wondering whether they could cause yet another upset in 2021. Already with wins over Melbourne and Geelong under their belts, the prized scalp of the Tigers would have been just what the Texan ordered to instil even more belief in his emerging team.
It did not eventuate, with Damien Hardwick pulling enough strings to see the Crows’ run stifled through the second and third quarters, and Jack Riewoldt turning back the clock in a fantastic last 20 minutes to ice the game and snuff out a last quarter surge from the Crows.
Plenty to cover in this one. Let’s get to it, with The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
COMETH THE MOMENT…
If you’d like to sum up the game, and the result in one moment, it has to be the towering mark from Jack Riewoldt in the last quarter.
With the Crows pushing hard, and looking like a genuine threat to pinch the game after the Tigers dominated the third, Riewoldt soared into the pack, running with the flight of the ball, and tore down a fantastic contested mark.
Not quite at the level of his cousin’s storied grab against the Swans all those years ago, this was nonetheless the epitome of courage, as Riewoldt leapt into courage with no idea what was coming the other way – it was the kind of act I hope is retained in the game. I say this as I have a strong suspicion that at some stage in the not too distant future, we may see a head injury in a marking contest, and the powers that be will float banning running with the flight.
This is the exact reason it should be retained.
Riewoldt set an example with that grab that every Richmond player had to follow. It was the pivotal moment in the last quarter, and a reminder that despite being looked at as a player that may have been on the way out over the last year or two, Jack has plenty left in the tank when it counts.
It was one of his six grabs for the quarter, and as he slotted the goal to give the Tigers some breathing room, you could almost see the air leaving the sails of the Crows. In one moment, the 32 year-old put the team on his back, took one of the marks of the season and kicked the goal to steady a ship that was just starting to lilt to one side under the pressure of Adelaide’s ferocious attack.
Riewoldt had the type of quarter that only he can have. He got to the right spots, earned the footy on his own, and read the play better than anyone else on the park to compile six kicks, six marks and three goals to steer his team home. He finished with five for the game, but his last quarter was worth so much more than just goals. His actions made every other Richmond player walk taller.
After quarter time, Damien Hardwick made several moves to shake things up. I am sure a couple of players may have been eyeballed by the Richmond coach in the process.
The defence started to press up, which saw the Crows unable to enact their run-and-carry style that was so successful in the first quarter. Oh, they still tried, but with the Tigers switched on, their quick handball chains were broken up and Richmond were able to get the game back on an even keel.
Vlastuin and Broad reaped the rewards as they started to collect the footy way too frequently for Matthew Nicks’ liking, and Noah Balta was able to regain some decent footing against Tex Walker after the Texan’s massive first quarter blast, in which he collected seven score involvements.
It was vintage Richmond, with their pressure lifting (if anyone has any idea how they work out what that damn “pressure gauge” they keep showing works, please let me know), Richmond wrestled back control of the game, turning it from a game the Crows were comfortable playing to one they were all of a sudden a little iffy about.
And that’s what Richmond do, isn’t it? They get the game on their terms first and foremost. When they’re able to accomplish that, the rest falls into place nicely.
One of the switches he employed after the first stanza was the shift of Shai Bolton into the middle, where his pace and elusiveness created a huge headache for the Crows mids and gave the Tigers a zippy presence around stoppages.
The other saw Mabior Chol’s mobility used to create second and third efforts at stoppages, as well as provide a target on the quick kicks inside 50 when he played as a deep forward.
LOWERING THE EYES
Hats off to Jack Graham in this game, who continuously looked to find the best option in and around the 50 metre arc all game.
He finished with four direct goal assists as he assessed the situation, lowered the eyes and made sure his teammates had every chance to score.
Graham is the type of player that few in the mainstream media talk about. He lives in the shadows of players like Dusty, Cotchin, Prestia and Bolton, but when you need a string body to take the footy, ride a tackle and hit someone lace out with a pass, there are few better. He can play inside or out and as we’ve all seen in the past, will put his body on the line to win the footy for his team, or even just impede the progress of his opponents.
The Tigers have a few like him – unsung heroes that generate such excitement in the group, internally. Players like Liam Baker, Kamdyn McIntosh, Marlion Pickett… they’re maligned in some sections of footy fandom, but they all fit in this Richmond team like pieces in a jigsaw – a nice Ravensburger jigsaw… not like the cheap knock off Disney Princess puzzle I bought my daughter and you basically have to force the pieces into place every time you do it… serves me right for being cheap, I guess.
But there was nothing cheap about Graham’s game this week. He’s owed at least four coffees and I reckon there’d be one or two that’d buy him one anyway for misses on his set ups.
THE DEFENSIVE WINGMAN
Most will miss this, but you guys know I put a heap of work into assessing the wingmen each and every week. As such, I want to commend the efforts of Kamdyn McIntosh in this game.
This is not about what he did when he had the footy – most can look good when that is the case – I want to zero in on the impact he has without the footy. He is one of the few outside runners that has a genuine defensive side to his game. The Tigers have two of these players, actually, with Marlion Pickett often drifting back to cut off any forward forays his opposing number may attempt.
McIntosh was opposed to second-year star, Lachie Sholl for the most part in this game, and whilst Sholl is not yet a household name, he will be one day, and is one of the hardest runners in the business.
But McIntosh made him earn every single one of his ten touches – well below his season average of 21.
McIntosh’s defensive running and attention to detail meant that there was no space for Sholl to get to to the outside and use that running power. Wherever Sholl was, McIntosh was never far away. It disrupted the running game of the Crows, with Seedsman playing a heap of time in the middle, and left them with David McKay playing on the opposite wing.
And it is no coincidence that with the wings compromised, that Josh Caddy was able to pick up 24 touches to lead the Tigers.
McIntosh finished with just 15 touches – it would be something you’d gloss over if you were skimming through the stats. You might also look and think “oh… Lachie Sholl was quiet.”
He was, and the reason for that was McIntosh. Put some respect on the man’s name.
CCJ… SO THAT’S WHAT THE FUSS IS ABOUT
Some of our more vocal Tiger fans have been spouting the name of Callum Coleman-Jones as though he was the second coming of Richo, but with both Riewoldt and Lynch occupying spots in the senior team, he has had to display a lot of patience to get to this moment.
So, he made this moment count.
As part of the Tigers’ rampant third quarter, the 22-year-old CCJ kicked two goals and could have had three but for one wayward kick, in a display that set the Tigers up for their win. He finished with four majors, displaying a good pair of hands on the lead, and a strong presence in the air.
Yes, Jack will get the plaudits for stopping the bleeding in the last quarter, but the effectiveness of Coleman-Jones in the third was a genuine highlight for the Tigers. He led hard, and had those leads honoured by senior Tigers as they delivered to him on several occasions – the young man did not let them down.
Between him and Hugo Ralphsmith, the Tigers added four third-quarter goals from unlikely sources as they surged to a 33-point lead at the last change. With the forwards up and running and the midfield well on top, things started clicking into place for Richmond, whose six goal term matched the output of the Crows for the entire final three quarters – that’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?
YOUR TEX IS ON FIRE
What a first quarter for the big Texan, and for a while there, it seemed as though he was going to be the story of the game.
With seven score involvements from his ten touches, everything he touched turned to gold as the Crows piled on the pressure both in play, and on the scoreboard. Matched up on Grimes, Balta, and at times, Vlastuin throughout the game, Walker could not maintain the level of excellence he displayed in the first quarter, mainly due to the Tigers controlling the midfield, but he remained a genuine threat all game.
He finished with four goals, but missed a crucial one in the second quarter with a kick from 45 he’d love to have back again – that was a bread and butter shot for the big man and he fluffed it.
Still, Walker proved once again that his early season form was no flash in the pan, and part of me is secretly… and not so secretly now, I guess, hoping that he has a monster game soon and takes the lead in the Coleman.
He played a bit of a lone hand up there in this one – yes, In know Darcy Fogarty kicked three, and he has a lovely set shot routine, but he barely touches the footy and isn’t taking bodies out of the contest at the moment either. It is basically falling to Walker to do a bit of everything, and for a while there… it looked like he just might.
NEVER SAY DIE
I have a genuine admiration for the Crows this season.
They have adopted the mindset that they are never out of the contest, and have displayed a real fighting spirit over the last little while that their supporters would be proud of. They simply refused to go away against the Eagles a little while back, ran over the top of Melbourne in the final quarter last week, and there they were again in this game, kicking the door down after it looked as though the Tigers had slammed it shut in the third quarter.
They play a pressure brand of footy and don’t really have an off-switch, so as soon as Richmond dropped their guard, the Crows landed a couple of big blows and just like that, we had a game again.
It may have taken a virtuoso performance from Jack Riewoldt to squash their comeback in this game, but they gave themselves every chance, and that makes them dangerous each and every week, irrespective of ladder position or the scoreboard.
SLOW TO ADAPT
This was a learning experience for Matthew Nicks, and one I hope he pays close attention to.
What works against Richmond in the first quarter rarely works in the second. You have to be adaptive and have a few tricks up your sleeve. I am sure the Tiger supporters will agree with me, but Damien Hardwick is amongst the best at making adjustments at the breaks. It used to be Alastair Clarkson right up there with him, but I genuinely think Clarko does not have the cattle to do pull off what he would like them to.
Hardwick does, and with several tweaks and a bit of enthusiastic direction to a couple of players, the Crows’ game style was shutdown by Richmond. Were they not prepared for the response that came on the back of the first quarter? Did they not have a Plan-B? Or were they simply unable to execute due to the Tigers being better than they were?
Once the Tigers matched the pressure of the Crows, I would like to have seen a bit more composure from the Crows – easy to say in hindsight, I know. A few blocks to free up the likes of Seedsman and Sholl on the outside may have made a significant difference in the way the game played out.
Composure against the Richmond press is easier said than done, but trying a manic, handball-heavy inside game against it is like committing footy suicide, and as the Tigers took control of the style, Adelaide could have really used a little foresight and the ability to take the heat out of the contest for brief periods.
NOT COMING ON?
Where is Chayce Jones at?
He was taken at pick nine in the 2018 national draft but is really starting to get close to the point where the Crows need to consider his future with the team
He now has 27 games to his name, but looks as though he finds the going a little too tough for him at senior level. His career high is 19 touches and this season, he is averaging just ten touches in his four games.
What is this bloke going to be? And when does he start making inroads into becoming this player?
Those taken around Jones in that draft are Tarryn Thomas, Bailey Smith, Nick Blakey, Zak Butters and Jye Caldwell. Of all of them, Jones is the least accomplished at the moment. He is significantly behind some of his peers and we’re now at the point where the Crows may be seriously ruing their selection. Imagine throwing Zak Butters (a healthy Zak Butters) into this Crows side instead?
My hope is that he is a late bloomer, and I suppose that would be the hope of all Adelaide supporters as well. To date, the lack of progress has been… disturbing.
OPENING THE DOOR
This is not a whack on Nick Murray, and I have to make that perfectly clear at the outset, but I see so many defenders coming off their man to attack the aerial contest, only to fail to impact it.
The problems that emanate from these instances put the rest of the defence under pressure, and often result in opposition goals. Sadly for Murray, he was the culprit on two occasions, and whilst his intentions were pure, he was unable to make an effective spoil, which led to two Tiger goals at junctures in the game that kept them in it.
The first one saw Shai Bolton run onto the ball after the footy skimmed off Murray’s fist and flew out the back of the contest in the first quarter. It was Richmond’s second goal of the game at a time the Crows were dominating them and gave the team a place to launch from in the second.
The second time saw Mabior Chol hang around out the back as Murray flew again. This time he failed to make contact with the footy affectively leaving his man in order to do nothing of note at all, and Chol was able to collect and slot a goal out the back. This was during the Richmond run which got the game back on their terms.
I can understand the desire to kill the contest, but when you’re the third, or fourth man up in a contest, you absolutely have to kill the contest. If you don’t, you well and truly open the door for your opponents to capitalise.
Murray would go onto have plenty of spoils in this game – his 12 one-percenters were a game-high – but it might be the two that he didn’t quite get right that had the biggest impact on the contest.
I know he has just six games to his name and I know this may be construed as harsh – I will cop that. It is more the result of the actions that I was pointing out. I’d love to see him continue attacking the contest.
IS JAYDEN SHORT GOING TO BE A DUAL JACK DYER MEDALLIST?
He is going to take some stopping.
The Tigers have had players dropping like flies this season, but through it all, Short has been a reliable presence off half back. He was at it again in this one, collecting 33 touches and running at the lazy 91% efficiency. His composure off half back is a godsend for the Tigers in times of need, and if you’re looking for an example of just how potent he can be with the footy in hand, check out his 55 metre bullet to Jack Riewoldt in the last quarter.
It was as though he shot it out of a cannon.
DOES JOSH CADDY RETAIN HIS PLACE IN THIS SIDE?
It would be really tough to axe Caddy to bring Marlion Pickett on the back of Caddy registering his team’s high in disposals. He worked really hard to play a good balance of offensive and defensive footy for the Tigers today, and slot straight in with the style that made him a fixture a couple of years back.
This Richmond team, when fully fit, is a nightmare to break into, and teams like this have a culture that being dropped is not shameful. However, Caddy would have to feel confident in keeping his place next week, and would feel quite disappointed if it’s back to the VFL after one week in the ones.
HOW DID THE RICHMOND KIDS GO?
There were some real moments.
The cameos from Hugo Ralphsmith, the impressive performance of Callum Coleman-Jones and the addition of Riley Collier-Dawkins to the midfield mix has given the Tigers a nice little glimpse into what comes next.
I am sure you would have heard people talking about the Tigers this season and how if they don’t win, it could be the dynasty over, but with these kids coming through, and not rushed through the system, either, it makes you wonder just how well the Richmond Footy Club are set up to continue performing long after the current group of stars have moved on.
THE CROWS HAD THE TOP THREE DISPOSAL WINNERS ON THE GROUND – DID THEY WIN THE MIDFIELD BATTLE?
Hmmm… this is an interesting one – the bloke who comes up with these questions is some sort of genius.
Real good looking, as well, from all reports.
Laird cracked in hard all game, as did Sloane, but the captain had a couple of crucial first-half turnovers that led directly to Richmond scoring shots (and one goal).
Ben Keays was the real winner. He was a winner in the middle, collecting 11 clearances amongst his 31 touches and was combative all game. He has gone from being an outcast at Brisbane to close to the most improved player in the game. The 48% disposal efficiency is a worry, and he is at his best when he can collect and dish, but if he improves that kicking… man, he could be something.
Dion Prestia’s return was good, inasmuch as he got through the game, didn’t get injured, and held his own. He’ll be a big factor in the second half of the season, so getting him through the first hitout back was really important.
Really good to see Cotchin get through the game as well. Those hammies of his are at the stage where they’re in need of some care.
If anyone can tell me why the vast number of people in the crowd at this game were cramped into the same area, in the age of covid, I’d like to hear how it makes sense.
$en$e… for your $afety, of cour$e, right?
The Tigers have the Bombers… somewhere next week, in what should be a wonderful clash. This is the first time in a while there hasn’t been much separating both teams on the ladder. Should be a good one!
The Crows may get the Pies at Adelaide Oval… or they may not depending on how things go. Given the way both teams are playing, you’d have to back Adelaide.