Richmond were beaten by a rejuvenated Port Adelaide who made a strong statement Friday night at Adelaide Oval, but in the makings of a country and western song, dont blame it on Dusty.
The Tigers sorely missed Dustin Martin, but for most part even the Brownlow medallist would have been hard-pressed to stop the stampeding Power before 39,936 fans.
Port held Richmond to a miserable 21 inside-50 entries up to half-time – their second-lowest in any half this season – and it was ultimately the most telling and damning factor against the reigning premiers.
The lead had changed for the sixth time 21 minutes into the second term when Port produced an incredible burst of authority, one that may prove a turning point of their season.
In five minutes 26 seconds, Port added four goals to lead by 23 points at half-time. They produced a ruthlessness and skill execution that had been seriously questioned of late.
During the second term Port had 10 more inside-50 entries, 27 more contested possessions and five more centre clearances.
Game-changers Ollie Wines had 13 more disposals compared with his first quarter, while Jared Polec gained 11 and Tom Rockliff eight. Richmonds Josh Caddy did not get a touch, but he was far from being the only Tiger struggler during this quarter.
It was an awesome seizing of control, and while Port had a host of quality performers it was Justin Westhoff who clearly dominated early and set a terrific example. By half-time he had 16 disposals including four inside-50 entries, and three goals.
There was nothing new to Ports game. It was built predominantly on courage, that determination to win the ball at all costs. They chased and tackled, forcing the Tigers into mistakes. After only five games last season, Anthony Miles did well in his first AFL game this season. When he goaled early in the second term players rushed to congratulate him as if he kicked his first in the AFL. but from there, Port made their terrific run.
A telling factor was that during this torrid third term Richmond had 18 inside-50 entries – a significant lift – but kicked only 2.1. Port also wasted opportunities, keeping the Tigers in the hunt, within 17 points at three-quarter-time. Try the Tigers did, but it wasnt enough. Missing was that “X-factor” that Dusty Martin so often provides.
There were some superb one-on-one battles. A fired-up Charlie Dixon started well against Alex Rance, but upon starting to hobble late in the first quarter his influenced waned. Rance had a mixed night: at his brilliant, goal-saving and inspiring best one moment, and dropping chest marks and giving away silly free kicks the next.
Ruckmen Paddy Ryder and Toby Nankervis had an absorbing duel with both contributing well to their respective sides. Interestingly, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was prepared to allow his much smaller onballers to nominate for the tap at key moments hoping to give the Tigers an edge downfield. Of course, it wasnt enough.
PORT ADELAIDE 2.2 9.5 10.7 10.12 (72)
RICHMOND 3.3 5.6 7.8 8.10 (58)
Port Adelaide: Westhoff 3, R Gray 2, S Gray 2, Dixon, Polec, Motlop.
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Costagna 2, Edwards 2, Miles.
Port Adelaide: Westhoff, Polec, Wines, Byrne-Jones, Wingard, Ryder.
Richmond: Lambert, Ellis, Short, Grigg, Nankervis.
Richmond: Astbury (ankle).
Chamberlain, Harris, Ryan.
39,936 at Adelaide Oval.
J. Westhoff (PA) … 8
J. Polec (PA) … 7
K. Lambert (Rich) … 7
O. Wines (PA) … 7
B. Ellis (Rich) … 7
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