Richmond v Adelaide - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Tigers welcomed back an old enemy, and put them to the sword in the last quarter, running out winners over the Crows by 47 points.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

THE GOOD

Toby Nankervis

Now, the stats aren’t exactly going to back me up here, but geez I love the way Nankervis goes about it.

Last week, Sam Jacobs was arguably the best player on the ground. Tonight, he was matched up against Nankervis, and big Toby did what big Toby does. He is always up for the grind of the game - the hard work, the dirty work, and the defensive stuff that ruckman rarely do.

Nankervis finished with 16 touches and three tackles but his defensive pressure is a real key to the Tigers. Case in point – how fantastic was he when Tom Lynch marked on the wing and thought that he’d just run around the big man?

No, no, no, Tom. Nank don’t play that.

The big fella latched onto the elusive Crow, held on, and refused to let go. The result was a kick that turned it straight over and the Tigers ran it forward, where Callum Moore goaled. It wasn’t displayed on TV, but I reckon more than a few Richmond players would’ve made their way over to Nankervis and gave him a bit of a pat on the head after that effort.

All in a day’s work for Toby Nankervis.

Kane Lambert

A copped a few messages this week for not having Lambert in our Rolling All-Australian team. It was like he heard about it and delivered a season-high 33 disposals to be one of the best players on the ground.

His run and carry, and seven deliveries inside 50 hurt the Crows time and time again. He has become the ultimate link-man for the Tigers, again covering the most distance of any player on the ground tonight. He just does not stop.

Dylan Grimes

Rarely beaten all season, Grimes was master of his domain. Sharing the spotlight with David Astbury in the defensive 50, Grimes was excellent tonight. Only one of his 16 disposals failed to hit the mark, and he made seven spoils on those unlucky enough to find him standing opposed to them.

Grimes is quick – much quicker than most think, and his ability to cover the ground and make up metres on an opponent often slip under the guard of those in the media.

Whilst Rance will continue to gain the plaudits, and more than likely an All-Australian berth, spare a thought for Grimes. He is a consummate defender, and the ultimate team player.

Tom Doedee

It’s games like these that demonstrate just why he is a huge chance at winning the 2018 Rising Star award.

Doedee has adapted to the absence of Jake Lever this season by stepping right into his role and playing it beautifully.

His 28 touches off half back were mostly of a high standard. He travelled at 89% efficiency for the game, and got plenty of his touches under pressure, compiling 11 contested disposals. His mark floating across a pair of tussling players was absolutely fantastic. He plays way beyond his years and has been given some tough assignments over the course of the season.

Doedee had three contested marks to lead all players, and save for one unfortunate moment where the ball bounced through his hands and led to a Richmond goal in the last quarter, he was excellent all night.

His tackle on Jason Castagna very late in the third quarter was almost action hero stuff. He was barely holding on… but he would… not… let… GO! It definitely affected the kick, and potentially saved a goal. If only others gave effort like Doedee.

David Astbury

Let’s not look at Astbury’s stats. Let’s look at the guy he was covering for most of the night – Taylor Walker.

Walker finished with 11 touches and 5 marks. He kicked one goal. He basically did more than that in ten minutes of the third quarter last week. Astbury’s job was to make sure that didn’t happen again this week, and he was all over Tex whenever the Adelaide Captain went near it.

The scene was set for Walker to make a statement tonight. I’m sure the scenarios ran through his head hundreds of times. What would he do when he got it? How would he change the game? Well, he didn’t really get the chance, and so much of that was due to the efforts of Astbury – another unsung hero of the Richmond team.

Daniel Rioli

I reckon I’ve seen Rory Laird caught with the ball a couple of times all season, but Rioli applied a trademark chase down and tackle in the last quarter to catch the potential AA backman.

Rioli adds another dimension to the Richmond forward line. His attack on the ball, and the player carrying it were second to none tonight. 12 touches, four tackles and two goals to his name make for a good night out for a small forward, though he could probably tidy up his disposal a little bit.

The foot goes on the throat

You look at this game and you see the margin. Hmmm, 47 points – it must’ve been a pretty easy win, right?

But then you look at the three quarter time score line and you see the Crows just doing enough to hang around. It was a 16 point advantage to the Tigers, and one goal to Adelaide would’ve made a huge difference.

It didn’t come until it was too late. The Tiger machine grabbed the game by the throat and strangled the life out of it. They slammed home six goals to one in the last quarter and powered away to take what was a game in dispute into blowout territory.

Granted, the game FELT like it was a bigger margin than 16 points at three quarter time, but the Tigers just looked fitter, harder and more determined for longer. When it came time to drop the hammer, they did, and they left the Crows for dead.

Shane Edwards

I reckon I saved the best til last tonight.

This bloke is the class of the Richmond outfit. If he gets 20 touches, you’re in big, big trouble, because he knows how to use the footy to hurt teams. He had 28 tonight… and yes, the Crows were in trouble.

There are only a few players who have the balance, the poise, and yes, the guts to execute a successful jump back move out of trouble. One of them retired this week – another is Shane Edwards. He finished with two goals, 14 contested touches and four clearances, as he worked up the ground and back toward goals all night.

He is fast becoming one of my favourite players to watch, and his performance tonight makes me pretty happy I have slotted him into the Mongrel’s Rolling All-Australian team after Round 15.

Nice to see him add another direct goal assist this week. Did I mention he leads the comp in that category? Well, now I did.

In case you missed it - The Mongrel's Rolling All-Australian team after R15

THE BAD

Kyle Hartigan’s defensive 50 exits

Whether it was the implied pressure, or just poor kicking, Kyle Hartigan looked as though he was actually trying to find Richmond players when the ball came to him and he had to take responsibility for the exit kick.

He was far from Adelaide’s best player tonight, and in a defence where Tom Doedee is working his backside off, Daniel Talia is playing hurt, and Rory Laird is taking the heat at ground level, what they need from Hartigan is a cool head when the ball lands in his hands. What they got was anything but.

His kicks that landed firstly with Callum Moore in the second quarter, and Cotchin in the third were unforgivable. There was no poise, there was no awareness, and there was no skill. They were hacks, and I’m resisting the urge to type “just like the guy who kicked them.”

And then I wrote it. 

In case you missed it - Jack Riewoldt - The Bright Side

THE UGLY

Curtly Hampton’s last game as a Crow

Do you remember a time when Hampton was a youngster and Dermott Brereton would gush over him on commentary as Hampton grabbed the ball with one hand like Jarred Brennan used to? Pepperidge Farm remembers, and so do I.

What has happened since?

Tonight, Hampton looked like a man who did not belong out in the middle of the MCG, and worse – he looked like a man who did not want to be out there, and did not want to compete.

One moment really put Hampton under the microscope. After a first half where he no touches at all, he had a chance to put pressure on Dylan Grimes, running back towards goal. Thing is… no pressure came. Hampton didn’t get anywhere near Grimes, and as the Richmond defender turned and left him in his wake, the Crow forward gave up the ghost.

That kind of non-effort indicates one of two things. Either he has an injury, or he has no bloody heart. You’d hope it was the former, because if it’s the latter, or even part of it is the latter, then there is no place in this team for him.

Bye, Curtly.

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OTHER BITS

The Tigers really compensated well for the absence of Nick Vlastuin in defence, which may or may not have freed up some time for Vlastuin to shoot another Holden Colorado ad.

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A few people talking up the games of Dustin Martin and Rory Sloane. Interestingly, at three quarter time they had almost identical stats. Both guys had 21 disposals, both had 13 contested possessions, and both guys were butchering the footy, travelling at 52% efficiency. That, for me, was enough to stop listening to those talking their games up. Dusty had a big last quarter, to finish with 30 for the game, but I really feel that he didn’t hit targets all game long. Good to see him desperate at the contest again, however.

A very shaky first half by Wayne Milera off half back. He was fumbly on several occasions and showed that he had no left foot early in the first quarter, trying a banana pass as he kicked inside 50. It was cut off by Cotchin. I can’t believe at times in this day and age that we have some many players unable to kick on their non-preferred foot.

I reckon Richmond play the goalkeeper role the best in the comp. Both Rance and Astbury were standing on the line waiting for the Sloane shot from 50 to drop short. It did, and they were there to make sure there were no goals bouncing through.

Shame Daniel Talia got hurt – he was having a ripping start to the game and had three clear wins against Riewoldt early on.

Callum Moore is providing a nice surprise up forward for the Tigers. His contested mark in the first quarter surprised everyone. Really, Talia and Laird should’ve killed the contest.

Another huge night for Laird. For those who think he collects cheap touches, check out his mark in the first quarter, standing under a high chaos ball. It was gutsy and classy all at once.

All things being fair, Tiger fans... that was a clear 50 against Dusty, right? You won the game; you can admit it now. Worse than anything that was paid last night. 

No snags tonight, but possibly the most complete game for Jack Higgins thus far. 

Myles Poholke had a day he’d like to out behind him pretty quickly, I reckon. Half of his eight touches missed the mark, then there was his comical clash with Tex Walker. I wonder if it was a case of players not talking, or players not listening that saw them completely stuff up a golden opportunity to goal?

Of Nathan Broad’s 19 touches, 11 came in the first quarter. Would be a good idea for opposition coaches to take note and not allow him to roam free across half back.

It was really evident early in the second quarter just how the Tigers punish teams when they make a mistake. Their energy is frenetic, and they are always up for the hunt. It has to be a cultural thing at the moment. Conversely, whenever Richmond fumbled or missed a target, they seemed to be able to find the time to rectify with a series of crisp handballs.

Not sure any player has a better ratio of goals kicked from the goal square as opposed to elsewhere than Josh Jenkins.

Is there a better set shot in the game right now than Josh Caddy? Name him.

Have to admit, I smiled a little when Rory Laird used the fend off on Dusty. That's like John Cena using the Rock Bottom on The Rock! 

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Dan Butler’s tackle on Matt Crouch, whilst starting on the turf, was a genuine highlight, and I reckon it’s the kind of highlight a coach would love. It was all about desire and effort, and it resulted in a Richmond goal. I reckon it’ll get a few runs as the players review the game.

Jack Riewoldt… how I wish he clunked that mark, but the recovery and snap for goal weren’t too shabby at all.

Now I love Darcy Fogarty, but I am not sure how Don Pyke thought he was going to win against Rance deep forward in the third quarter. Fog is a cameo actor at the moment and needs to develop some speed and endurance. That said, when he drifted up to half forward, he was able to double back as Rance zoned off, and took a nice mark and goaled.

For those counting, I had two goals kicked on Rance tonight – one by Jenkins after a nice one-on-one mark, and the one mentioned above by Fogarty.

Jack Riewoldt’s recovery to put the ball in to the path of Moore for a goal in the third quarter was sublime. It was a 50-50 contest with Doedee initially, but Jack’s ability to stay in the contest was so good.

I thought Kyle Cheney was very serviceable for the Crows tonight. He has always been a fringe player, and ‘m guessing he still would be if not for injuries. More than earned his spot tonight, however.

Anyone else think Dylan Grimes gets a bit of old ‘Possum Eyes’ Mark McGough about him sometimes?

Disastrous start to the last quarter by the Crows with Milera giving away a dumb free kick to Caddy inside 50. The guy just doesn’t miss.

Amazing how the ball sometimes goes your way – the hack kick out of defensive 50 by Edwards landed right in the hands of a teammate. I’m not sure I saw that happen to a Crows player all night to that point. Credit the Tigers’ defensive set up, but it must be heartbreaking to watch the ball come up, go the length of the ground, and a goal come from it (Dan Butler) when the times you’ve done it, it lands with an opponent and comes straight back in.

Hartigan really capped his night with a push on Dustin Martin, incurring a 50 metre penalty. Great job, Kyle.

Testament to the discipline of Richmond was the defence in the last few minutes. Despite the game being done and dusted, the Crows had a forward thrust (much like my mate Joe Ganino when he has flashbacks of the old woman who couldn’t stop nodding in our neighbourhood when we were kids) and there were five Richmond players outnumbering the three Crows. That is commitment to the cause to keep running back, keep pressuring, and keep supporting your defenders.

I actually had high hopes for the Crows in this one, and thought a win would really set the season on its ear, but credit the Tigers – they don’t care too much for theatre. They deal in reality, and right now, the reality is they’re the best in the business.

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