Round 16: Richmond vs North Melbourne – a draw is just as bad as a win

by Michael Allan

We’ve reached the home stretch. Only six more games before eight teams are knocked out and the finals begin. It’s around this time when Richmond (and several others) are put under the microscope, as the tanking debate re-emerges. I’m always torn with this: on one hand, it will better suit the club long term to  lose. On the other hand,  why would I turn up to the game if I wanted my team to lose?

Personally I don’t think either teams are tanking. Both coaches have been told to win games and since both men  are wanting the main job at their respective clubs, losing  would not be advisable.

Mum and I find plenty of seats on the train. The few making the Sunday arvo journey with us are not all going to the footy. I’m expecting a small crowd today.  As we reach Mitcham  station, mum recieves a text message from dad with horrible news. The message reads “Rumours on 3AW. In: Coughlan, Mcmuffin. Out: Cousins,Cotchin”.  Without knowing why the outs have come through, the talk of tanking and Richmond will only grow. Our best player last week omitted, and replaced with the soft unaccountable McMahon who will set up more goals for North with his characteristic clanger kicks out of defence.

As we  take our seats, mum tells me about next Wednesday night’s  Richmond cocktail party. The ‘over eighteen’ event happens every year and mum always attends. A silent auction is held for the players worn and signed jumpers. Last year she went for Mitch Morton’s but didn’t get it in the end. This year I’ve given mum my blessing to spend as much of my money that’s needed to buy Jayden Post’s jumper. I feel he’ll be a Tiger great and will come fairlycheap considering he’s playing his third match today. A good long term investment .

The match starts very sloppily. A player kicks the ball into a pack, the ball goes to ground and a ball up is held. That style is momentarily broken by a Lachie Hansen goal thanks to Boomer Harvey. We might have  to get Jackson to give him another chicken wing tackle.

Richmond start to get on a roll after that, as the young forward line, absent of Richo and Brown, that has looked suspect all year, starts to fire . Riewoldt, Nahas and  Polo all kicking goals for the quarter, due to great “frontal pressure” as it’s been called. This is a massive improvement for a team which had something like four inside 50 tackles in Round 1.

As the second quarter starts ,Richmond pick up where they left off. Skipper Newman has been moved into the midfield and is giving great delivery to the leading forwards. It’s a move that should’ve been made under the command of Wallace more often. Chris is  arugably the best kick in the team and whichever midfielder he gives it to  seems to butcher the ball, so it makes sense. The hypnotised Tambling continues to amaze the Richmond faithful. The most improved Tiger for the year hands down.

Richmond just can’t do a thing wrong.  Silvester is doing terrifically on the out of form Hale ,while King is playing like a man possessed . He’s desperate to keep his spot in the team. Even Jordie’s doing well! It’s amazing how much easier football is, if you hit your targets.

The half ends with a Morton goal and Richmond seven goals ahead. I spot an old primary school ( and Richmond supporting) friend named Cam in the ‘Mens’. It’s been a few years since I last saw Cam but I recognised him instantly. It’s funny how some things never change. (like Richmond)

The third term starts in a deadlock, much like the first term. An Edwards goal seems to seal the game but as I’ve been shown on numerous ocassions, you can never call a game a Richmond win until the final siren sounds. Harding and Hale start to knock down the margin. A goal from Corey Jones cements worries and negative thoughts into my mind. The only thing that has stayed the same is the umpires. They’ve been consistently inconsistent all day. The ‘holding the ball’ decision changes every time,with how long players can hold onto the ball.

I can’t help but think of what I witnessed the night earlier. After a great first half,Collingwood just never came back onto the ground after half time.

The North midfield starts to capitalise on the domination of McIntosh in the ruck ,as Harvey, Simpson and Power all have terrific quarters. Swallow kicks a goal just before the siren to top off the terrible quarter. North look poised for victory and the Tigers look stuffed. I was in doubt about who I wanted to win on the way in, not anymore. There’s no way I can see my boys lose like this.

The two teams come out as if their playing for eighth spot in Round 22. Harvey seems to be the difference as he kicks two goals. He’s a class above the rest, and has beaten Jackson all day.  North continue to attack,  as Hale converts again (who said he was out of form?) and the Roos hit the front. I am absolutely shocked. I know we always run out of legs in the last quarter, but this is just ridiculous.

Richmond have one last chance to  attack .  The 100 gamer Deledio finds the ball in the centre and kicks a spearing pass that hits Tambling on the chest. The 2004 draftee who has been so highly scrutinised, can answer the critics if ‘Bling’ can nail this one. I’m right inline with the kick . I’ll know straight away if he’s kicked it or not. As it left his boot it looked good and  I jump up in the air raising both arms.  The ball drifts right, and HITS THE BLOODY POST!

North move the ball quickly. It’s clear if you want to hit form, play Richmond, (look at Geelong 2007 if you need proof). David Hale finds the ball and gets it to the reason North are back in  the game  – Leigh Harding.

The ball is cleared by (fellow red headed hero) Jackson. Riewoldt takes on Petrie and Gibson in the contest as Morton finds the ball at the back of the pack and kicks the equaliser. Mum dosn’t realise it goes through and is shocked by the news. When the game is close, Morton somehow seems to find the ball.

The drama isn’t over yet as the Roos go into attack one last time, with Hale out muscling Silvester. A whistle is blown and a free is payed to Jarrod for holding on to the jumper. A boo that is  ‘Collingwood worthy’  echoes throughout the ground, as nobody can believe what they’re seeing.

As the siren sounds, I’m feeling  a feeling I’ve now felt three times in the last three years – the feeling of a draw. Mum and I have the pleasure of sitting in the Great Southern stand, next to the umpires race,   as security guards, Richmond and Roo fans alike, flock to the race to see them off. I’ve never seen both teams supporters boo the umpires like this before.

Later that night I check the ‘priorty pick rule.’ A team can’t have more than 16.5 premeirship points, I read. This draw has now made North Melbourne ineligible for the extra pick and Richmond one win away from losing it.

This draw was just as bad as winning for both clubs. And we didn’t even get to sing our theme song!

Richmond: 4.5  10.6  11.9  12.13 (85)

North Melbourne: 1.3  3.6  8.11  12.13 (85)


Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Nahas 2, Morton 2, Polo, Coughlan, Hislop, White, Edwards

North Melbourne: Harding 3, Harvey 2, Hale 2, Hansen, McIntosh, Greenwood, Jones, Swallow


Richmond: Newman, Tambling, Deledio, Edwards

North Melbourne: Harvey, McIntosh, Harding, Hale

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