Richmond v Port: News, reaction and fall out from the Tigers win over the Power
Hawthorn and Essendon stand in the way of Richmond and a finals berth. The Tigers’ destiny is in their hands, but can they do it without a pair of defensive mainstays — and maybe Dusty?
Richmond believes it has the defensive depth to cover for star defender Nick Vlastuin as the Tigers’ run of “elimination finals” returns to the MCG for crunch games against Hawthorn and Essendon.
Vlastuin will not play against Hawthorn after being crunched in the ribs by Port Adelaide’s Charlie Dixon and was subbed out for Jason Castagna.
FOR AND AGAINST: IS PORT’S PREMIERSHIP WINDOW CLOSED? — SCROLL DOWN
He will join the Tigers’ co-captain Dylan Grimes on the sidelines, with Richmond confident there is no long-term damage but expecting him to miss at least this week.
Damien Hardwick was able to throw the reliable Kamdyn McIntosh into defence after Vlastuin’s injury so will likely keep him in that position and find another wingman.
McIntosh was cleared to play against the Hawks after the MRO ruled his high spoil on Port Adelaide’s Darcy Byrne-Jones was a genuine attempt to contest the ball.
Meanwhile, captain Trent Cotchin was also not penalised for a tackle on Ollie Wines which saw the Power star hit his head on the ground.
The Tigers will likely need to win a total of eight games straight to hold aloft the premiership cup, but have won nine of the past 11 games at the MCG.
Hardwick said of Vlastuin’s injury: “He‘s probably doubtful, we suspect he has some form of rib damage. I’d say he’s incredibly doubtful for next week.”
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The Tigers had 29 scoring shots against Port Adelaide with Bolton extraordinary but wasteful with 4.5 to take his season total to 39.39 with 13 total misses.
If the Tigers dropped one of their remaining two games they could still make finals if St Kilda lost to either of St Kilda or Sydney on the way home.
But Hardwick will label the last two games as virtual elimination finals as the club continues its theme of setting itself a mountain to climb after the club’s early struggles.
“Sometimes you choose the mountain, and sometimes the mountain chooses you. We‘ve got to go about it a different way. It’s exciting for us, the challenge is firmly set, we’ve got a great understanding of what that is,“ he said.
“Every game is an elimination final, we understand that, but I’m really pleased with the way the guys are playing. We can’t think too far ahead, all we have to do is just worry about one foot in front of another.”
Grimes had hamstring tendon surgery and so will likely miss the rest of the season, while Dustin Martin’s return date is unclear.
The Tigers are hopeful his second hamstring tear will respond more quickly than the initial damage but is more likely to be available for finals.
The barnstorming form of Bolton and All Australian contender Daniel Rioli has helped the Tigers’ ladder position but also highlighted their development.
Maurice Rioli and Noah Cumberland were both excellent, with Hardwick impressed with first-year midfielder Tyler Sonsie
Is Port’s flag window still open? Making the case for and against
Port Adelaide is on a four-game losing streak, has been defeated in five of its past six games and is likely headed for its lowest ladder finish of the Ken Hinkley era.
With two matches remaining, against fellow nonfinalists Essendon (away) and Adelaide (home), the Power has an 8-12 record and will probably end up in the 11-14 range.
Not since 2016 has Port Adelaide lost at least half its games – 10 that season.
The lowest it has finished in Hinkley’s decade in charge is 10th.
Losing to Richmond by 38 points at home on Saturday night leaves the Power in 12th spot.
Port Adelaide may yet slide lower than its cross-town rival, if the Crows triumph in each of their last three matches and it loses both.
Even ending up with one win between them would be a shock, considering the expectations for the two clubs going into the campaign.
You could view the Power’s 2022 season one of two ways: as the start of a decline with a closed premiership window or a blip attributed to a bad start, key injuries and poor record in tight games.
The case for the former is largely to do with the age or availability of some of its matchwinners.
Robbie Gray is 34 and struggling as he plays with a knee issue.
Charlie Dixon turns 32 next month and has been sidelined for 10 matches this year.
Orazio Fantasia has not featured at AFL level at all – besides as an unused substitute – due to knee and quad injuries.
Travis Boak is also 34 but his late-career renaissance shows no sign of slowing down.
His close mate Gray may not play on and will be a massive loss if he goes despite his body battle.
He is an all-time Port Adelaide great as well as one of the most clutch players of the past 20 years.
Dixon’s body has long taken a beating and you wonder if he has another 45-goal season left in him.
Yet he is arguably the club’s most important player.
Fantasia lining up in just 21 games during the past three seasons – 20 if you subtract that match earlier this year as the medical substitute – suggests the Power needs to find more answers to its small forward woes because he has not been reliable.
His absence, Connor Rozee and Zak Butters blossoming into midfielders and Steven Motlop’s form slump then retirement has left the Power looking to left-field options.
Hard nut Lachie Jones had played at half-forward until a hamstring injury ended his campaign, while defender Darcy Byrne-Jones was shifted into attack on Saturday night as Hinkley sought someone who could provide more pressure.
Jed McEntee is a true small forward but is more of a fringe player.
The club badly needs to recruit another classy, crafty goalsneak during the off-season.
Then there are the polish issues.
Can the Power rectify its scoring and turnover problems in the next 12 months?
It is averaging just 77.45 points per game – a significant drop from last year’s 85.64 and easily its lowest return under Hinkley, excluding the 2020 campaign with shorter quarters.
Turnovers are killing it against the better teams.
The case for Port Adelaide returning to top form next year is that its list still looks strong and if it improves its record in close games, gets key players healthy, starts the campaign better and recruits well, it has the hallmarks of a 15-win side.
Landing Western Bulldogs on-baller Josh Dunkley would be a coup.
Gaining a draft pick at the start of the second round as compensation for Karl Amon, who has been linked to Hawthorn, will be a decent result given the Power has Xavier Duursma, Miles Bergman, Josh Sinn, Kane Farrell and potentially Trent Dumont as wing options.
The emergence of Jase Burgoyne and top-20 picks Todd Marshall and Sam Powell-Pepper have been major positives.
Unless his body is shot or he is keen to hang up the boots, Gray needs to stay on if Port Adelaide truly believes it is still in the premiership window, so valuable is his experience, class and X-factor in big games.
He could be the difference in a final.
Unsurprisingly, Power vice-captain Ollie Wines is glass half full on the club’s 2023 prospects, confident it can bounce back to premiership contention.
“I think our list has still got so much upside,” Wines told News Corp.
“You see the players coming through that have only played 30, 40 games and have got their whole career ahead of themselves, then a really good base of 100 to 150-game players that are going to anchor the side, then the youth is going to push us forward so we’re very positive.
“We understand the results of the season and what they’re going to be, and not venturing into September, but the belief and energy around the club is really good.
“We know what we’re capable of.
“It sounds funny because of our record, but we really think that we’re a better side than what the ladder shows.”
The jury is out on that assessment.
Clubs, players and coaches have to spruik positivity.
In terms of the Power’s 2023 fortunes, it feels like things can genuinely go either way.
It could bounce back immediately or might have missed its chance with this group.
Wines said its five losses in the past six games – against Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong, Collingwood and Richmond – proved the Power was not of the same calibre as the top teams right now.
“We were one of those sides the last two years but obviously have dropped off a bit and have got to find that form again,” he said.
POWER DRAINED AS TIGERS FLEX FINALS MUSCLE
Richmond’s quest to play finals has received a major boost after four-goal heroes Shai Bolton and Tom Lynch fired the Tigers to a clinical 38-point win over Port Adelaide on Saturday night.
Dion Prestia starred at the stoppages, finishing with 32 possessions and 10 clearances, as the Tigers flexed their finals muscles in an impressive 16.13 (109) to 10.11 (71) win at Adelaide Oval.
Trent Cotchin and Daniel Rioli were also outstanding, while Toby Nankervis was the dominant big man on the ground with 29 disposals and 42 hit-outs.
“We’re starting to play some reasonable football, I thought we were pretty consistent apart from a couple of phases, but I thought the guys dug deep,” Damien Hardwick said.
“The pleasing thing for us is that we had some players that weren’t quite performing to their level of expectation but then they changed and had a significant output.
“I was really pleased with how the boys played.”
In a disappointing season, Ken Hinkley has often been left to lament that his side is not good enough for long enough and it was again the case, with the Power trading blows in an entertaining first half before falling away in a disappointing third term where seven goals were conceded.
The Tigers improved to an 11-1-8 record with the important win that keeps them well in the hunt for a top-eight finish, while Port slipped to 8-12.
With just two games remaining, the result means the Power will finish the season with a negative win-loss record for only the second time in Hinkley’s 10-year tenure.
Ollie Wines, Travis Boak and Zak Butters were prominent for the Power, with Charlie Dixon and Jeremy Finlayson booting two goals apiece.
A shaken Wines left the field for assessment in the first quarter after he was taken to the ground heavily in a Cotchin tackle.
With his left arm pinned, the Brownlow Medal winner’s head struck the turf at the end of a slinging tackle that come under match review scrutiny.
Thankfully, Wines was cleared to return to the game and overcame a sluggish start to fire up his side in the second quarter.
Wines had 13 possessions for the term, with the Power erasing a nine-point quarter-time deficit to hit the lead when Robbie Gray converted a free kick after Nathan Broad was pinged for a deliberate rushed behind.
BOLTON GOES BANG
Bolton put in one of the more entertaining five-possession first halves of the season, striking twice late in the opening two quarters.
The Tigers’ livewire, who had an engrossing duel with Ryan Burton, goaled from long range after the quarter-time siren and his second in the shadows of halftime was one out of the box.
With the ball pumped deep into Richmond’s crowded attacking 50, Bolton cleanly gathered the Sherrin off the ground, evaded three defenders and sent a spectacular snapped goal through at post height.
He struck again in the third and final terms, but a superb showing could’ve been something truly special if he had kicked a little straighter, finishing with 4.5.
LYNCH GETS LOOSE
Lynch looked set for a big night in the first quarter when he clearly troubled opponent Trent McKenzie, but he only managed one goal from three shots for the term.
McKenzie held his own in the second, but Lynch did the damage in a pivotal third quarter.
Twice McKenzie slipped over to allow Lynch to add second and third goals and after the Tigers’ power forward snapped his fourth from a forward 50 stoppage Hinkley made the switch with Aliir Aliir given the task.
The third quarter was largely played on Richmond’s terms, the visitors leading by 40 points after Bolton kicked his third and Noah Cumberland snapped truly.
Making the performance even more praiseworthy, the Tigers had to shuffle the deck when defender Nick Vlastuin was subbed out of the game soon after the main break with small forward Jason Castagna the medical sub.
Vlastuin immediately left the ground following a fearsome clash with Dixon, with the Port forward’s knee crunching into Vlastuin’s ribs in a marking contest.
“There were some critical parts of the game that we were beaten badly in,” Hinkley said.
“We had plenty of opportunities, but they were a bit cleaner with the ball and they were able to take territory off us, which is a really big part of our game.”
POWER 3.1 6.4 9.6 10.11 71)
TIGERS 4.4 7.6 14.10 16.13 (109)
Power: Wines, Butters, Boak, Houston, Drew, Bergman.
Tigers: Prestia, Bolton, Cotchin, Lynch, D Rioli, Nankervis.
Power: Dixon 2, Finlayson 2, Bergman, Butters, Duursma, Gray, Burgoyne, Rozee.
Tigers: Lynch 4, Bolton 4, Cumberland 2, D Rioli 2, M Rioli, Riewoldt, Ross, Pickett.
Power: Rozee (knee).
Tigers: Vlastuin (ribs).
Haussen, Nicholls, Hosking
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JASON PHELAN’S VOTES
3 Prestia (Rich)
More CoverageNext move? Swans react to Buddy’s stalling tacticsEarly Tackle: Checkmate, Bombers, as damning stats don’t lie
2 Bolton (Rich)
1 Wines (Port)
Originally published as Richmond v Port: News, reaction and fall out from the Tigers win over the Power