This season is arguably one of the most even in recent history that is underlined by the fact that no less than five teams currently sit on six wins – two of these teams include Port Adelaide and Richmond. The importance of coming away with the victory at Adelaide Oval on Friday night then is more important than ever, as both teams seemingly cling to slim finals chances.
The Power has lost their last two, but are well rested going into the match after a disappointing 17-point loss to Fremantle nearly two weeks ago. Richmond meanwhile has won their past two against both Queensland teams. The Tigers were embarrassed the last time the two teams met in Round 6 at the MCG and lost by 35 points and the Adelaide Oval itself doesn’t hold the fondest of memories for Richmond. However, the most recent result between the two clubs isn’t everything - Bachar Houli (34 possessions), Shaun Grigg (32) and Dustin Martin (31) found plenty of the ball and the Tigers dominated the hit-out count (64 to 24), but the Power led at every change. The Tigers have also won four of their past seven games since 2012, including a draw; though Port Adelaide still have the edge overall 16-10 since the Club’s entry into the competition.
A host of absorbing match-ups at either of the ground will underscore the contest and play a significant part in determining the result. One of these will be between Jack Riewoldt and Port return-from-injury defender Jack Hombsch. Riewoldt is coming off a stellar performance against Brisbane in the previous round – finishing the game 4.3 on the score board, but had a game-high 15 score involvements and a team-high 12 contested possessions (among his 21 disposals overall). He is just one of the Richmond forwards that are getting great service from the midfield, taking the second-most marks inside attacking 50 this season with 14.5 per game. Hombsch meanwhile is Port’s anchor in the backline, according to Richmond Assistant Coach, Mark ‘Wilbur’ Williams. Speaking as part of Roar Vision’s Opposition Analysis this week, Williams believes Hombsch is a smart, tough and very dour defender. His match-up on Riewoldt will be an important one for the Tigers.
Other opposition players to keep an eye on at the other end of the ground meanwhile are former Sun Charlie Dixon and Port veteran Justin Westhoff. Dixon is actually number one in the league for being a forward 50 target – Williams refers to him as ‘...a tower of strength’. Westhoff meanwhile is a dangerous player up forward; he seemingly can find space and finish his work. The Tigers will thus need to be wary of the influence of both. There are also players like Jake Neade and Jarman Impey that create problems at ground level for opposition defences.
This will be the first real challenge for the Tigers in a number of weeks. The form line reads well given Richmond has won five of their past six games, but four have been against the bottom-four sides. The victories against Gold Coast and Brisbane in particular were expected; this time around the Tigers are not expected to win especially without the home ground advantage. However, any team is beatable on any day – anything could indeed happen.
What do you think will happen on Friday night?