|Justin Westhoff celebrates a goal|
Port Adelaide 8.1 14.5 19.8 20.12 (132)
Richmond 1.1 3.2 6.5 11.9 (75)
GOALS – Port Adelaide: Neade 3, Schulz, Monfries, Polec, Wines, Wingard, Ebert, Westhoff 2, Gray, Boak, White. Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Gordon 2, Grigg, Conca, Maric, Deledio, Edwards, Griffiths.
BEST – Port Adelaide: Boak, Gray, Jonas, Westhoff, Wingard, Wines. Richmond: Deledio, Martin, Houli, Riewoldt, Miles, Ellis.
INJURIES – Port Adelaide: White (broken jaw).
UMPIRES – L. Farmer, M. Stevic, A. Mitchell.
CROWD – 50,618 at Adelaide Oval.
Adelaide: We shared Richmond's dream, and it will wake up on Monday morning with no place to hide.
The only solace for the Tigers coming out of Sunday's debacle at Adelaide Oval – a 57-point loss – was that its execution was swift. It didn't finish as Richmond's worst performance in 80 finals over 98 years – better than the 89-point drubbing it suffered at the hands of Geelong in the 1995 preliminary final – but for three quarters it was ugly, very ugly when Richmond trailed by 81.
While pride alone saved complete embarrassment, rarely have we seen a more ruthless opening to a cut-throat final than when Port Adelaide went on the rampage and ended the Tigers' dream in just 10 minutes.
It unfolded with 10 mistakes that would have skewered the hearts of Tiger fans and coach Damien Hardwick – mostly as a result of Port's amazing pressure.
When Jake Neade swerved past flat-footed opponents, bounced twice and goaled on the run from 50 metres to give Port a 37-point lead at the 18-minute mark, there was a horrible cloud of death that hovered over the stadium with no chance of resurrection. So early, and no apology.
What unfolded from there was absolutely demoralising for Richmond. It started with mistake No.1 – Trent Cotchin winning the toss and kicking against the wind. Sir Donald Bradman would have been mortified at such a decision at this hallowed cricket ground. Within two minutes Port had two goals caused by turnovers from basic fundamental Richmond errors.
The Tigers had a chance to go inside 50 when Troy Chaplin, who copped heaps against his old teammates, needlessly dumped Justin Westhoff after disposing of the ball, and with a 50-metre penalty Port had another chance at goal. The sloppy kick-out gave Travis Boak a goal.
Matt White was found unattended 30 metres out, and when Richmond had chances for goal it played-on and was caught. The Tigers were in complete disarray. Game over, but there was no mercy rule and incredibly by half-time Port led by 69 points, 14.5 to 3.2.
Rarely has a finals team been so insipid, so bullied and embarrassed, but to dwell on Richmond's waste of a finals opportunity that so many fought for would merely deny Port the credit due to it.
The courage on this killing field was epitomised no better than when Hamish Harlett ran full bore into Steven Morris late in the second term to set up an easy goal for Jay Schulz. It was like being run over by a tank.
Yet, despite this first-half onslaught, the usual key indicators looked encouraging for Richmond – down five contested possessions, nine more tackles, and even in clearances. It wasn't so much the fact Port had 23 more disposals and took 20 more marks, but how effectively Port used them and how poorly Richmond disposed of the ball that was telling.
Above everything, Port just played like men possessed, as if they were the cast of Braveheart. But wouldn't you expect this of a finals side, and the opposition standing strong in defence to weather the storm? Port executed this game plan so well that the Tigers basically didn't know what hit them and without knowledge of the main forces in this dreadfully one-sided battle.
Richmond played poorly, but it really was a case of Port playing so well – or being allowed to dominate. Retrospective of round nine, really, when Port was top and Richmond was 16th; only the 10-in-a-row dream, as brilliant as it was, made us forget the best and worst in these sides.
As the scoreline suggests, Port had so many match-day heroes, especially its captain Boak and AFL coaches' favourite Robbie Gray who were outstanding on the ball, Westhoff for his tireless work in both defence and in the forward line, and the ever-emerging Ollie Wines.
The defence was obviously solid – it was only Richmond's display of pride in the last quarter that prevented a record finals loss – and Tom Jonas was brilliant. To have eight multiple goalkickers added to the impressive coach's report.
Richmond had a few good men such as Deledio, Bachar Houli, Dustin Martin and Anthony Miles, while Jack Riewoldt battled hard and did a lot of team things besides kicking three goals.
But as the game wore on and frustration levels soared, the Richmond performance got uglier. The last quarter made the damage less obvious. It wasn't a good day, and the fans let the Tigers know it.