Diving low in an attempt to thump forward a loose ball, Short landed awkwardly on his right arm and dislocated his elbow. Even the AFL’s official Twitter account saw fit to warn the squeamish before they clicked on the replay.
With so many key backmen incapacitated, those who were left behind battled manfully to contain Cameron’s Giants before they were eventually overwhelmed.
The hosts prevailed 19.11 (125) to 10.16 (76), bouncing back from their heavy defeat to premiers West Coast last week to go 2-1 after three rounds, while the Tigers slumped to the inverse in front of 12,697 fans. Trent Cotchin also finished the game on the bench in a worrying sign for coach Damien Hardwick.
Cameron was the undoubted star of the show, shooting straight to the top of the Coleman Medal leaderboard. He caught fire early – in a busy first quarter he bagged two goals, hit the post twice, had another around-the-body kick from distance touched off the boot and nearly brought down a screamer of a mark from Nathan Broad’s shoulders.
He finished with 30 disposals and seven marks inside 50, doing it all in obvious discomfort after taking an early hit to his right shoulder. The other Jeremy – Finlayson – was moved forward and chipped in with a five-goal haul of his own. Before Saturday, he had kicked four goals in his entire career.
Richmond didn’t feel the absence of Jack Riewoldt quite as much, mostly because prized recruit Tom Lynch stepped up. Lynch kicked four goals – although he did drop a sitter in the final term – while Daniel Rioli had three, and did well to recover from a crunching collision with Phil Davis in the second quarter. Debutant Sydney Stack was also a handy contributor.
But there were serious concerns elsewhere. The Tigers led by eight points at the first change and looked good in patches, but struggled to put more than 15 good minutes of football together. The pressure they usually pride themselves on was not there, and GWS slowly assumed control of proceedings, with Lachie Whitfield (41 touches, a career-high) running riot all over the field.
Dustin Martin was restricted to just 15 disposals, his personal frustrations boiling over on a few occasions – most notably when he sprayed a GWS opponent, giving him the middle finger and appearing to simulate snorting. He may also come under match review scrutiny for an off-the-ball elbow. It was a dirty day all round for Dusty.
Perhaps the only sour point for the Giants was Tommy Sheridan. Playing his first game for the club, the ex-Fremantle Docker had just one handball before he succumbed to a calf strain. It meant both teams were down a man for the majority of the match, but one handled it much better than the other.