Port Adelaide had the choice tonight – contender, or pretender. They said it in commentary, and they said it in pubs and workplaces. Well, they dropped the premiers at Adelaide Oval by 14 points, and did it with a powerful seven-goal second quarter.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
I can see Ollie turning into the modern Stewie Dew when he retires. He just looks like a bulging, ball of muscle that will blow up as soon as his career finishes… but right now, he is a rampaging, powerful bull.
The most impressive aspect of his game tonight was his tackling. He had 12 for the game and shrugged a few attempts to hold onto him as well. His seven clearances were an equal team-high, and he was a huge factor in the second quarter onslaught of the Power. Wines had 13 in the second and along with Polec, made the difference.
We called for a big game for Wingard, and his first minute set the tone.
The Chad had three touches in the first minute of the game, and threw himself into contests all night. On the way home from work tonight, I listened to Kane Cornes talking about Wingard. He talked about his desire, or lack thereof. He said that Wingard needed to knuckle down, put in a good pre-season and work hard.
He followed up by saying that Wingard loved the big stage, and that he would not be surprised if Wingard had a big one tonight. Nice crystal ball work, there Kane.
Wingard had a game-high 31 touches, seven clearances and eight tackles. It was a blue collar game, and that’s what Port have been waiting for from him. He picked a good night to do it.
The second quarter
The Power seemed content to play slowly in the last – they’d done the hard yards in the second quarter.
Led by Polec and Wines, the Power put the foot on the throat of the Tigers and did what so many teams have been unable to do to them – they punished them. Westhoff was instrumental on the scoreboard, and had three before half time.
Little things were great for Port. The deft touches of Robbie Gray… he won’t get a stat for them, but his tap ons and ability to create without taking possession are second to none in the comp. I know the footage below is from the first quarter but... you know, it's a great example of Gray's ability.
Here you had a guy named Josh Caddy. Coming into the game, he’d kicked ten in the last fortnight, so Port Adelaide turned to their defensive general. In our Round 12 preview, we spoke about the importance of Jonas controlling the back half and nullifying Caddy. Well, that’s just what he did.
Jonas looked in control the whole way, and had helpers in the form of Dan Houston, Dougal Howard and Darcy Byrne-Jones.
Jonas had modest stats. He finishes with 10 disposals and four marks, but the one stat that mattered was his direct opponent, and one of the most dangerous men in the game returning 0 goals.
The Polec response
Jared Polec had a first quarter he’d probably like to forget. A couple of absolute clangers cost his team, and earned him the ire of Ken Hinkley.
A lesser player would’ve dropped his head and gone into his shell. Jared Polec did the exact opposite. Some have floated his name as a possible All Australian, and if you watch the second quarter, you’ll know why.
Polec was electrifying in the second quarter, and his 11 disposals hurt the Tigers. His run, his linking up, and his goal demonstrated that he was no shrinking violet when the coach gets stuck into him. He was challenged, and he raised his game – an admirable quality not just in a player, but in a person.
Dixon v Rance
I love a good one-on-one duel, and we got that tonight with Rance trying desperately to match Charlie Dixon, and Dixon attempting to stymie the run and intercept abilities of Rance.
So, who won?
Dixon was huge early, and had Rance on his heels with two big contested marks. Rance rallied and made several great spoils on the big forward. Dixon fought back when Rance decided to leave him and couldn’t impact a contest in the second. The ball came out over the back and it was Dixon who hit Westhoff running into space for the goal.
Dixon looked a little limited after tweaking an ankle late in the first quarter, but toughed it out, and in the end, we scored it a draw.
In case you missed it - The Mongrel's Round 12 preview
The Tiger small forwards
This has been a real strength Richmond this year, but tonight, they were missing.
Jason Castagna did manage two goals, but missed two vital goals in the third quarter that would’ve drawn the Tigers to within striking distance. Others weren’t so effective. Dan Butler didn’t have a touch in the first quarter, and finished with nine for the game. Josh Caddy had 11 touches and went goalless. Jack Higgins was OK in the first half, but had only four touches in the second half.
Even Shane Edwards looked a little out of sorts, despite two goals to his name. There was a loooong stretch where he wasn’t near it at all, and this has long been a criticism of Tiger supporters. He needs to use his creativity when the Tigers need him to drag them into the game. He didn’t get enough of it.
He played a role tonight – a very minimal one. Jack Watts was recruited to make a difference, but he was ineffective tonight. He finished with 12 touches at 67% efficiency, but on a night where the stars were set to shine, Jack’s performance was rather… dull.
Motlop and Rockliff both had very good moments. Watts didn’t have any.
If Dusty comes back in next week, I reckon this bloke sits out.
Eight touches tonight, and two tackles.
Holding the ball not paid
Please, when the ball is incorrectly disposed of, pay holding the ball. If you don’t you actually advantage the player dropping it, or allowing it to spill out. It’s bloody wrong.
Brad Ebert’s tackle on Toby Nankervis was holding the ball all day long. That it was called play on was a joke.
Later in the game, Shane Edwards was caught and incorrectly disposed of it as well. If the free kick is there, pay it!
In case you missed it - How much will your team pay for Tom Lynch?
The travelling tigers
Three interstate games for Richmond. Three losses.
I guess the Tigers are happy the Grand Final is played at the MCG. Even when they travelled to Etihad Stadium to face North Melbourne, the game was a little too close for comfort.
What would your worst nightmare for this season be if you were a Richmond supporter? Would it involve travelling to Perth in the first week of the finals? If they keep dropping interstate games, and they get surprised once or twice in Melbourne, we may see them on the road.
And we know what happens when the Tigers have to leave home.
This might be unfair on both blokes, but what I really hate about the modern game is when two blokes have the chance to go hard at the ball, and neither does.
Tom Rockliff and Nick Vlastuin both approached a contest with extreme caution in the third quarter. I don’t blame the players – they are so bloody confused about what they can and can’t do in a clash of bodies so it’s a better option not to go.
I think Dylan Grimes did a great job on Robbie Gray. You’ll never keep him down for a full game, but Grimes won some good one-on-ones against Gray tonight.
I wonder how much the Tigers’ efforts to pin the ball inside their attacking 50 take out of them physically. They did it for the second half of the first quarter and then the Power were able to kick seven goals against them in the second. They did it in the third quarter against the Hawks, then Hawthorn were able to kick six last quarter goals. They did it to the eagles in the second quarter, then the Eagles banged home seven third quarter goals. There may be something to it.
Four contested marks for Charlie Dixon = job done.
Disappointing miss from Toby Nankervis in the first quarter. He had the chance to hurt Ryder with that shot. I suppose it was evened up when Ryder dropped the uncontested mark late in the second quarter 30 metres out.
Ten intercept possessions for Rance tonight. Averaging 11.4 for the season.
I hate ruck nominations. If Trent Cotchin is going to take ruck contests, he deserves to be jumped into. Unfortunately, this nomination thing protects the smaller guys. It’s a genuine tactic to throw another midfielder into the mix because there’s basically no way they can get hurt now.
Cotchin’s effort to outrun Neade to the ball at half back is a good lesson for Neade. That action set off a chain reaction that saw the ball go to the other end where Shane Edwards got the ball over the back for a goal… though I thought he may have had a couple of hands in the back of his opponent before he gathered the ball.
Sam Gray may have missed the goal, but Justin Westhoff’s 50 metre pass to him was an absolute sizzler. He’s got some amazing skills for a big guy.
While we’re on Westhoff, I have no idea how he’s so good. Seriously, he looks nothing like a footballer. He’s all arms and legs, but watching him gather a ball or take a mark… he’s just incredible, and for a big guy, his skills are impeccable.
Loved the dual efforts from Jack Riewoldt on the wing. He was desperate to prevent Clurey from getting a touch and threw himself at the contest which resulted in an inside 50 for Richmond. This is their trademark at the moment.
It’s a big step up from the VFL to the AFL. Anthony Miles had 20 touches, but as a replacement for Dustin Martin… well, they’re big shoes to fill.
Lovely sell of the foot candy from Sam Gray to make sure of his goal after a couple of early misses.
Good contested mark by Westhoff at half back set the wheels in motion for the Power in the second quarter. Sam Powell-Pepper got it to Polec who banged home a goal. Credit it to Westhoff who made a 50-50 a 100% win.
The second quarter was such a great response from Port. They were hard at the ball and the man, something that very few teams are able to do when facing Richmond.
Port was dominant early in the third but failed to put any scoreboard pressure on. At the time, I had the feeling it may have been costly. When Castagna ran into the open goal in the last minute of the third, I felt as though the good work from Port had been undone.
After such a tussle in the third quarter, I hated that the first and second goals in the third quarter came from free kicks. One each, so it balances out, I guess, but in a fight like this… I like the goals earned. The free kick to Riewoldt in the ruck against Westhoff was there – it was clumsy. The free to Robbie Gray against Grimes… I’m not so sure about. It looked like Gray ran back to initiate the contact, both held on, and the umpire plucked it.
How good was Ollie Wines standing up and shrugging off Reece Conca’s tackle? I loved it.
Charlie Dixon’s defensive work and work ethic to run across the ground and catch Shane Edwards holding the ball was so important – it set the tone for the last quarter. The Tigers are usually so good at releasing and getting out of trouble. Not this time. Edwards turned inside and Charlie nailed him.
Tackle of the night was Sam Powell-Pepper crunching Jayden Short. Beautiful tackle. Picture perfect, travelling at speed… so hard to execute without giving away the free kick.
Huge win from Ryder at full back with both Castagna and Grigg to beat. No idea why Grigg didn’t compete in the air. He had Ryder ripe for the picking, and should’ve put a knee right in his back.
Great protection by Motlop for Wines to mark in front of Brandon Ellis. Just did enough to impede Ellis.
Finally a holding the ball against Nankervis, when Wines got him in the last quarter. Not much different between this and the other ones earlier.
Overall, a high quality win by Port. Tough opposition, high pressure, and playing on the big stage – they stood up and shed the ‘pretenders’ tag. Are they contenders? Give us a yell and a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter. We’re on both of them, you know? We’re pretty modern, and have a webpage on the interwebs or whatever…