Tigers of new all about pres­sure

Grind­ing tac­tics the hall­mark of Rich­mond 2017

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - SCOTT GULLAN

IT summed up Rich­mond per­fectly.

A Shaun Grigg mon­grel punt floated for­ward to a oneon-one that in­volved Dustin Martin.

The Brown­low medal­list won the con­test and took off, de­liv­er­ing a per­fect hand­ball to Ja­son Castagna.

And the lit­tle man kicked the goal to win his club the 2017 premier­ship.

The fact there was an­other quar­ter to go says ev­ery­thing about how good Rich­mond had been and how bad Ade­laide was.

Castagna’s goal took the mar­gin to 33 points at the 20minute mark of the third quar­ter.

The Tigers had kicked nine of the past 10 goals, from the start of the sec­ond term through Jack Riewoldt.

Ade­laide’s only goal in that time was at the 14-minute mark of the third quar­ter from Tay­lor Walker.

Its much-hyped for­ward line had buck­led, thanks to Alex Rance and his pres­sure-ad­dicted mates.

The sec­ond term was his­tory mak­ing for the Crows as it was the first time they had failed to kick a goal in a quar­ter against Rich­mond.

None of what had tran­spired was sur­pris­ing. We’d seen it all year from the Tigers, so why was it that so many thought they couldn’t bring it when it mat­tered most?

Their game plan has been sim­ple and cer­tainly wasn’t a se­cret.

It was es­sen­tially kick it long to Riewoldt and then converge in num­bers around the area where there was only one in­struc­tion — pres­sure.

Tackle, ha­rass, bump, smother.

At this point it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing Rich­mond was ranked 18th for pres­sure in the AFL 12 months ago.

Yes­ter­day it won the Tigers a flag.

But it wasn’t just the for-

ward line that lived and breathed this ethos. Every player brought the same at­ti­tude, which is why the Tigers won their first premier­ship since 1980.

Rich­mond had he­roes ev­ery­where.

There were a cou­ple of ob­vi­ous ones in Martin and Rance.

Every time Martin went near the ball there was an el­e­vated heart rate for every Ade­laide player.

But one in­stance stands out. Af­ter con­trol­ling the sec­ond quar­ter they’d fi­nally got their noses in front af­ter young­ster Jack Gra­ham kicked what then had been the big­gest goal of his short ca­reer at the 25-minute mark.

The next cen­tre bounce was when the dream play came.

Dion Pres­tia, who had been ev­ery­where, got an­other cen­tre clear­ance with his quick wob­bling punt float­ing into a wide open for­ward line where two play­ers stood. One was Martin. The other was Luke Brown.

Martin com­fort­ably got the young Crow out of the way, marked the ball and drilled the goal from 30m to ex­tend the lead to 10 points.

At the other end Rance was im­pen­e­tra­ble. His game isn’t judged on kicks, marks and hand­balls, it’s about the spoils, deft touches, phys­i­cal­ity and his pres­ence.

Now to the lesser names. Gra­ham was rather un­known a cou­ple of months ago, but the youngest player on the ground, at 19, played like a 200-game 29-year-old.

Three goals told only part of the story as he also played a shut­down role on Rory Sloane, who had been the Crows’ best in the first half.

Gra­ham kicked two goals in the third-quar­ter ram­page while the Crows star only touched the ball twice.

Bachar Houli kicked a cru­cial first-quar­ter goal and then pro­ceeded to col­lect 20 plus pos­ses­sions.

Riewoldt took two hang­ers and con­trolled the first quar­ter de­spite kick­ing three be­hinds, while cap­tain Trent Cotchin may have been down on num­bers but not in ef­fort.

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