Throughout this week we have been highlighting top individual performances by Richmond Indigenous players past and present, as part of the Club’s ‘Dreamtime at the G’ celebrations. Today we focus on Daniel Rioli’s breakout game in the 2017 preliminary final.
Daniel Rioli propelled Richmond into the 2017 Grand Final with the finest feat of his fledgling AFL career in the preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney at the MCG.
The slick, quick small forward, in just his 42nd game of AFL football, finished the penultimate match of the ’17 season with 14 disposals, an equal game-high eight inside-50s, five marks, six tackles and an equal game-high four goals.
It was an exciting display, so reminiscent of the Rioli name at the business end of the season, as Glenn McFarlane reported in the Herald Sun . . .
“There is more than a bit of symmetry about Rioli turning in a career-best performance in the month of September, as well as being a member of the first Richmond team to reach a premiership playoff in 35 years,” McFarlane wrote.
“Back then, in 1982 — 15 years before Daniel was born — his late great-uncle Maurice Rioli became the first player to win the Norm Smith Medal in a losing team. He called Maurice ‘grandfather’.
“Two years ago, another relative and close mate Cyril Rioli won the best afield honours in Hawthorn’s 2015 premiership success.
“While there is a long way to go for the exciting work in progress that is Daniel to reach the lofty heights of his famous relatives, he made a sizeable down payment on his future yesterday before a packed house of yellow and black.
“Many of those 94,258 fans at the MCG were old enough to remember the exploits of Maurice, who died in 2010, who also wore the famous No.17 jumper.
“Rioli told the Herald Sun earlier this year: ‘There is a bit of pressure there (with the name), but I kind of put it at the back of my head and play my own brand of footy that I’ve been playing since I was a kid. It’s just footy. ‘Junior’(Cyril) plays his own brand of footy, my uncle (former Bomber Dean) played his own brand of footy, my ‘grandfather’ Maurice played his own brand of footy at Richmond. Now it’s time for me to make my own name for myself and play my own brand of footy’.
“Daniel Rioli did that, and much more yesterday, kicking four goals in the first three quarters — including two crucial ones in the all-important third term — and turning on the forward pressure that would have made his famous relatives proud.
“After the Giants had clawed their way back in the first term following an early Tiger onslaught, Rioli provided the goal his team needed at the 24-minute-mark, making the most of a free kick against Nick Hayes.
“Then he nailed the club’s only goal of the second term to edge his team just in front. It came after he gave off to Dion Prestia and kept running to get it back before slotting it through from 45m.
“He only had six touches to halftime, but tellingly five inside 50s. His tackling pressure was immense, as was his ability to slot through goals when his team required them.
“Two more goals came for him in the third term, as the Tigers put their collective foot to the Giants’ throat, his fourth with a cool kick around his body to drive home the Tigers’ advantage.
“The Rioli name is back where it belongs — in a Grand Final — and so is Richmond — and his family couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Rioli’s Tiger teammate, star defender Dylan Grimes, paid a glowing tribute to him post-match . . .
“He played a terrific game tonight,” Tigers defender Grimes said.
“One thing that gets rated really highly internally is the pressure he puts on the opposition defenders.
“I really feel like he's been building something over the last few weeks, and it was only a matter of time before he got that reward, and it was incredible to see him get that tonight.”