Rob Harding's in-depth tactical preview of Port Adelaide versus RIchmond
Last three meetings
2020 Round 11: Port Adelaide 13.15.93 d. Richmond 11.6.72 (21 points). Adelaide Oval (T)
2019 Round 18: Richmond 15.11.101 d. Port Adelaide 9.9.63 (38 points). MCG (D)
2019 Round 4: Richmond 15.9.99 d. Port Adelaide 14.8.92 (7 points). Adelaide Oval (T)
Last time they met
In one of the games of the season, Port Adelaide jumped out to a four-goal lead before the Tigers hit back, and in a see-sawing battle, took a one-point lead into the last quarter.
From there it was all Port Adelaide, as they dominated clearances and contested possession in the last quarter (+7 and +22 respectively), to generate 19 inside 50s to two for the quarter, kicking 3.4 to 0.0 to run out 21-point winners.
While the last quarter inflated the stats, Port was the dominant team in many areas, winning the inside 50 count 55-24, clearances by 19 (including a remarkable 20-5 from centre bounce) and contested possession by 45.
With so much of the game starting in Port Adelaide’s forward half, Richmond were forced to rely on fast break counter attacks.
The Tigers' speed did trouble Port once they were able to break the first line of their pressing defence, resulting in Richmond generating 17 scoring shots from just 24 entries. This was the most efficient scoring performance from any team in 2020.
What Port Adelaide learnt from week one
Port’s coaching staff would have been thrilled with their performance in the Qualifying Final against Geelong, especially in light of the Cats big win over Collingwood on Saturday night.
The Power’s contest game stood up against the Cats midfield, especially in the second half, as they won both xlearances and contested possession by eight for the half.
Centre bounces, which are so important for establishing field position, went Port’s way 9-7 but they were also able to capitalise on the scoreboard, kicking 3.1 to 0.1.
Many of Port’s younger players were playing in the first final, and stood up in key moments.
Xavier Duursma courageously went back with the flight in the third quarter, while in the last quarter Zac Butters’ knock on set up Peter Ladhams for a goal, and Todd Marshall played through a shoulder injury to kick a late goal.
While Port will be happy that Trent McKenzie kept Tom Hawkins goalless, they will acknowledge that Hawkins’ 0.5 and one shot for no score could have been far more damaging.
The Port backs forced Hawkins wide for the majority of his shots, and will have been keeping close watch on how Tom Lynch dismantled their former teammate Dougal Howard in the Tigers Semi Final win.
What Richmond learnt From week two
The Tigers were undisciplined in their Qualifying Final loss to the Lions, allowing an easy Daniel Rich handball receive for the Lions first goal, and giving away two 50m penalties late in the second quarter for a Lachie Neale goal.
Richmond brought the aggression against the Saints last week, but for the most part it was in a more controlled manner.
Tom Lynch attacked the ball with speed, creating numerous opportunities for the Tigers small forwards, especially in the first half. Shane Edwards and Shai Bolton (twice) were the early beneficiaries of the Tigers talls ability to bring the ball to ground.
After the Lions were more damaging at ground level in the Qualifying Final, the Tigers improved enormously against the Saints.
Richmond midfielders and half forwards got back into their defensive 50 to support at ground level and pushed hard into their forward to crumb and hit the scoreboard in attack.
Something To watch for
Jack Riewoldt played a selfless role in the Semi Final, pushing up the ground to help isolate Tom Lynch’s match up closer to goal.
If he does the same, how can Trent McKenzie get any support in the air against the Tigers power forward?
Port’s midfielders and wingers have a big responsibility to get back and help cover the Tigers dangerous high half forwards, if their Port teammates have to leave their man to provide aerial support against Lynch and Riewoldt.
I wrote before the Qualifying Final that Port had been underrated all year, despite finishing every round on top of the ladder and ranking in the top two for Offence and defence.
I then went on to tip Geelong to beat them.
I’m not making the same mistake this week. Port are at home and are well rested coming off a solid Qualifying Final hit out.
The Tigers will throw everything at them, and bring a much more experienced and hardened team than the one they brought in Round 11, but I give Port the edge (just!).
Hopefully this game lives up to the hype – it should be a classic.
Port Adelaide by 13 points.