AFL Round 12 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Extraordinary

Between a cluster of away games and other engagements, we haven’t been to the footy since the Collingwood game in round 5. A long weekend with nothing better to do seemed a prime chance to get back into it. Saturday we went down to open training at Arden Street, a cheerful affair with sausage sizzles and a light skills session. Bearing in mind a recent conversation with She Who Must Be Obeyed about not kicking the footy with the kids enough, picked up a ball from the Roo Shop and had a bit of a run around. Marched the older boy, who has chosen Kieran Harper’s 23 for his new jumper, over to former number 23 Nathan Thompson to have it signed. Bought a cheer squad raffle ticket.

Sunday afternoon was spent with some Mario Kart and a health-free lunch until finally — finally — the 7:10 game time approached. Number 1 son was the only one up for a late night, so off we toddled in good time for a parma at the social club.

One of the advantages of barracking for North is supposed to be immunity from the blockbuster tax: buy your membership, go to as many games as you can find time for, get a decent GA seat if you don’t get there at the last minute. But this one is apparently an A-minus game or something, so we have to shell out extra for any seat worth sitting in. We decide on level 1 in the pocket, North end. Reserved seats at least mean we can linger longer over our parmas, I suppose.

Part of this year’s narrative about North is that you can tell in the first 10 minutes which version has showed up. I couldn’t. The tiges came out scrapping, as intent on going the niggle and knuckle as the ball, while North were opportunistic at best but at least still in touch.

In the second, Dusty happened. North proved the adage that you can’t afford to be far off your best to get overrun. Without quite getting “smashed at the contest”, they didn’t put enough pressure on the ball and got carved up with uncontested stuff. The same sort of chipping around that undid them against Essendon, punctuated by flashes of Dusty. What a player he would be with his head screwed on.

Being at the footy with an 11 year old brings out the optimist in you. The boy was disconsolate by half time, glumly handing me his record since he cant bear marking down any more opposition goals. I had to remind him that it’s only half time, it’s only Richmond, it’s only 30-odd points, they just need to get ‘em one goal at a time.

What followed was extraordinary.

Brad Scott, uncharacteristically, made some flashy on-field moves: subbed Majak Daw early to open up the forward line and introduce an extra midfielder; moved Atley off Dusty in favour of Firrito; and put Boomer deep forward to drag Houli out of the play.

Boomer gets the better of Houli one out and gets the free. One.

Petrie a strong contested mark 20 out. Two.

Petrie again: makes a contest, follows up twice to tap to Bastinac goal side. Three.

Boomer puts it lace out from outside 50 to Petrie again at the top of the square. Four.

Luke McDonald drops it into the danger zone where Ziebell backs into the pack and marks. Five.

Boomer gets a neat little handball out to Nahas who goals on the run. Six.

Robbie Nahas, who by all accounts sooked his way off Richmond’s list by the end of last season, loving his second chance at a new club and playing for his career, puts North in front and parades in front of our pocket at the North end. The impulse buy ticket upgrade was worth it this time.

Cunnington and Petrie add two more and in 20 minutes Richmond have been put to the sword. Demoralised. Even though they get one back and the difference is only 9 points at ¾ time, it’s over. One thing North certainly has got right this year is hanging onto leads.

There are plenty of reasons to go to the footy; this week I’m reminded how often we’re lucky to see something extraordinary. They can be big or small things. An epic comeback. An improbable Lindsay Thomas goal through traffic. Petrie kicking 6 in a quarter in Archer’s 300th. A sublime Cunnington handball. A Howe hanger or Dustin Martin showing off his uncanny strength and balance.

Traditionally, we either have a celebratory hot jam donut or a commiseratory hot jam donut. Tonight, just the two of us, we have two each. Don’t tell mum.


NORTH MELBOURNE       3.3    4.7    12.11    17.14 (116)

RICHMOND                        3.4    10.6   11.8     13.10 (88)


North Melbourne: Petrie 4, Harvey 3, Bastinac 2, Ziebell 2, Nahas 2, Greenwood, Black, Cunnington, Goldstein

Richmond: Martin 4, Riewoldt 3, Morris, Thomas, Edwards, Vickery, Maric, Dea


North Melbourne: Greenwood, Goldstein, Petrie, Harvey, Swallow, Nahas

Richmond: Martin, Thomas, Houli


Umpires: Hoskin, Schmitt, Mollison

Crowd: 32,977 at Etihad Stadium
Our votes: Goldstein 3, Martin 2, Greenwood 1.


  1. You were fortunate to witness the come-back first-hand, Rob.
    What are your thoughts on Majak?

  2. Smokie, having had a chance to chat to Majak a couple of months back, he’s a nice young man who seems dedicated to improving his footy.

    As a project player with a dozen games under his belt, he could be doing a lot worse, and his value as a backup ruck probably outweighs his shortcomings in general play. Even on Sunday he had a handful of WOW moments to go with the stuff-ups.

    I honestly think his biggest problem is indecision most of the time, and we’ll get a better bead on him after another 20 games or so,

    Is that noncommittal enough? :-)

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Great piece, Rob. Agreed, it was extraordinary, one of better North wins of recent times. I still haven’t got my voice back.

    I’ve just posted and forgot to mention MD. I like him and want brad to persist with him. He’s our x-fctor and someone opposition teams need to keep an eye on. The three talls up forward don’t always work, so I’d like to see him roaming in the ruck a bit more, coming off the bench if need be. What a handful he’d be loaping up and down the wing..

    Great to see Drew’s leadership 3rd term. It was time to produce and he did.

    I like Nahas; something always happen when he’s around.

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