ADELAIDE 3.0 8.1 11.2 17.4 (106) RICHMOND 8.3 10.4 11.7 13.9 (87) GOALS Adelaide: Walker 5,Tippett 3, Knights 2, Porplyzia 2, Douglas 2, Mackay, Callinan, Sloane. Richmond: Martin 3, Riewoldt 3, Edwards 2, Deledio, Connors, Nahas, Grigg, Cotchin. BEST Adelaide: Douglas, Porplyzia, Dangerfield, Thompson, Jacobs, Mackay. Richmond: Deledio, Cotchin, Jackson, Martin, I Maric, Newman. INJURIES Adelaide: Nathan van Berlo (blurred vision). Richmond: Jake King (ankle). UMPIRES M Nicholls, S McInerney, H Ryan. CROWD 33,780, at AAMI Stadium.
THEY say players win games and coaches lose matches, but an obvious change by Brenton Sanderson allowed Adelaide to achieve one of its finest comebacks against Richmond at AAMI Stadium yesterday.
Down 33 points at quarter-time, the Crows clawed their way back to win by 19 points, leaving the Tigers at 6-7 and with an even tougher task to make the finals.
It wasn’t Adelaide’s biggest revival but given the way it was playing, and on the back of a dismal effort against North Melbourne the previous round, it was significant.
Jack Riewoldt was magnificent in the opening term, kicking three goals to set up an 8.3 to 3.0 opening term – Richmond’s best against Adelaide.
He embarrassed 2005 All-Australian Ben Rutten, who didn’t have the pace to match the Richmond ace, and there were murmurings among the stunned crowd that the 30-year-old champ may have played his last AFL game. In trouble, Sanderson pitted recent Rising Star nominee Daniel Talia against Riewoldt and the kid held him to a miserable four disposals over the next three quarters, and, importantly, kept him scoreless.
Shaken back to reality, Rutten went upfield and gathered 12 disposals and took eight telling marks to play a big part in the turnaround.
It was an excellent, albeit obvious to everyone, team change but overall it was Adelaide’s will to win and ability to turn a huge Richmond tide that won this game, rather than one Richmond player being denied opportunities. Riewoldt’s effort was fair in the wash-up.
After an early goal-fest, in between Richmond’s 11th and 12th goals the Crows kicked 6.3 to 0.5 in 47 minutes and 43 seconds of play.
Michael Doughty also lifted his game, as did co-defender Sam Shaw.
Also playing a huge role in the comeback was Jason Porplyzia. His 150th AFL goal in this, his 100th AFL game, when he soared towards a pack and took a courageous mark, was inspiring. There were valuable contributions from David Mackay, Richard Douglas, Chris Knights, who had been struggling to get a game, and sub Brodie Martin, who was outstanding in the third quarter when he came on for the injured captain Nathan van Berlo (blurred vision).
Richmond too had a host of valuable contributors, especially Shane Tuck, Daniel Jackson, Brett Deledio and Shane Edwards, who kicked two goals in that first-term blitz in his 100th game.
There were tough tackles from both sides and some brilliant running passages of play but, ultimately, Richmond had every reason to feel shattered at letting slip an opportunity to move into the top eight after having the game by the throat.
The Tigers didn’t choke; they just couldn’t handle a side coming back so hard and wearing them down. It seemed as if they started to defend a lead rather than take the game head-on, like they had in the first quarter.
Adelaide changed the trend by bridging the gaps, denying Richmond the free run-on play it enjoyed early. Perhaps most agonising was the fact that, for the most part, it clearly dominated Adelaide in most key areas of the game. It finished with more disposals (plus 46), marks (20), tackles (13), inside-50s (10) and, much to the ire of Crows fans, nine more free kicks, in what was an ordinary umpiring effort affecting both sides.
There was huge interest in the duel in ruck between Sam Jacobs and former Adelaide man Ivan Maric, undoubtedly one of the most improved players in the competition. Jacobs seemed to have a slight edge.
Easily – and unfairly – forgotten in Adelaide’s comeback win was that, for most part, Richmond played some quality football against a side many rate as top-four material.
As Damien Hardwick lamented, it’s a tough game, but there is still a long way to go in this season, starting against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday. And maybe the jury is still out on the Crows. The machine doesn’t quite hum under pressure.
Ivan Maric probably lost the “Battle of the Mullet” to Adelaide’s Taylor Walker, and according to Damien Hardwick the Crows’ Sam Jacobs shaded the former Crow in ruck, especially at the stoppages, an area that gave Adelaide an edge after quarter-time. Jacobs had 14 disposals, five marks and 32 hitouts, compared with Maric with 17, eight and 39.
The Crows must have been colour blind in the second quarter. Michael Doughty handballed directly to Jake King – goal. Brent Reilly to Robin Nahas – goal. Matthew Wright to Dylan Grimes – should have been a goal. Colours too close to those of the Crows? Richmond didn’t cough the ball up under pressure.
It was a tough introduction to AFL football for Tiger Todd Elton, who finished with just four disposals – all after half-time. But it wasn’t easy for the youngster playing against the experienced Ben Rutton after quarter-time, and the ball rarely coming in well to the Tiger forwards.
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