AFL Round 16: Tiger-Roo draw is not surprising considering neither side knows how to win

By Chris Riordan

There’s a gruesome joy in going to a draw when you barrack for neither side. And, I hasten to add, today’s result made no difference to the prospects of my team, the Doggies, for this year and beyond.
I’d hoped to have a look at Cousins and Cotchin to gauge for myself the Tigers’ future, but both were late withdrawals. Instead, I got to see two of the Doggies’ great unloved, Power and McMahon, in a game that was pretty awful if you were “invested”, but eventful at the least for us watchers. A draw was an ultimately unsurprising result, which I’d flippantly tipped this morning and times since, on the premise that neither side knows how to win. The always insensitive P.A. at the ground endeavoured to fill the hushed lull that follows a draw by bellowing Barnesy’s Ain’t No Second Prize. “Nobody takes me seriously anyway,” might have been a better choice on a lot of levels.
As a cathartic experience, this offered much. Both sets of supporters could vent their frustration at some terrible passages of footy and then they were united in baying at the dreadful umps as they made their escape. Richmond had been on the wrong end of the free-kick count all day, but I reckon North got some tough calls against them also, with David Hale being penalized in each of the last two quarters and forfeiting certain goals.
As is so often the case, Richmond should only blame themselves, and in their defence they are club that does that par excellence. After establishing a seven-goal lead at the main break, victory should have been a formality, particularly against a side that was gutted in the slog at Launceston last week. But it is never that simple. The caricatures emerged as self-destructive Tigers floundered against the Shinboner spirit!
In a complete reversal of the first half, North swept forward upon resumption, scrapping for the ball in the centre and heading goalwards. This may sound a simple enough strategy but, believe me, it is too rarely Plan A. Hale and Jones became menacing forward options, as McIntosh took control as the dominant ruck and Gibson started to offer rebound. North’s momentum pushed Richmond back in to old habits until, entering time-on of the last quarter, they’d incredibly conceded the lead. Boomer Harvey was proving unstoppable and the Roos looked home.
Yet Richmond could well have regained the points. Jordy hit Riewoldt lace out and he spilt it. What an enigma  and a frustration Jack Riewoldt is — he can take great grabs, pass off when faced with a certain goal, drop an uncontested possession — but he’s worth sticking with because he is a real talent. Getting inside his head is the challenge.
In the desperate final moments, Hale put North a point up before Tambling hit the post with his straightforward set shot. In a twinkling, Harding’s frenetic goal was matched by Mitch Morton. After Hale’s mark was disallowed, the ball was appropriately on the wing as the siren blasted.
This was only the second draw between these combatants; the other in Round 8, 1966, also at the MCG. How each clubs’ fortunes have wavered during the intervening years! Both, one suspects, see Nathan Buckley as a key part of their future glory. As the scoreboard would attest, he will find it hard to choose between these and there may be better choices elsewhere.

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