Round 11 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Seventy points, three stretchers and plenty of questions

Well that was a hell of a thing.

Surprising? Not really. Unexpected? A little. Heart-wrenching? Quite a bit.

It is amazing what the footy world forgets in a few short weeks. A true kick from the boot of Tiger Sam Lloyd worked better than a Memory Charm from the wand of Hermione Granger. The past weeks, Richmond had been bastardised by the footy media on everything from its coaching and leadership to its recruiting.

It took one good kick and everyone forgot. Obliviate! Instant rectification. The Tiggers are back in town.

Two more wins, over the desolate Fremantle Dockers and experimental Essendon Bombers, and the Tiger train was roaring through the AFL world again. They’re back! Cotchin’s captaincy was hailed, Ben Griffiths was suddenly a good story and no-one even mentioned chopsticks! Hell, even the keyboard warriors ceased their bashing of scapegoats Troy Chaplin, Ty Vickery and Steven Morris to hop on board the steadily chugging train of pure momentum.

Everything was fine and dandy until the train hit a kink in the rails. A kink the size of Tasmania.

Sure, North were first on the ladder and Richmond fourteenth, but momentum, ladies and gentlemen, was the deciding factor in the eyes of the many. It shall decree the winner. Richmond had three on the trot while North had just lost to Sydney, therefore Richmond should win.

To use the words of pretty much every footballer these days, yeah nah.

Friday night footy in Tassie. A great idea until Mother Nature stepped in. I’m all for footy in Tasmania and love the idea of a team based in Hobart but three degree footy, this without a breath of wind, is going to create a few issues. You could be excused in thinking that the game was taking place at Mawson Station by the way Messrs Richardson, Ling, Carey, Cometti and McAvaney were acting.

These temperatures are usual occurrences at junior footy, where the little tackers have the task of booting the dew from the turf. You don’t see too many single-digit temperatures in the AFL, nor plumes of steam rising from the hulking bodies of its combatants.

North came to play. Footy’s a winter sport, and they played the game accordingly. They tackled harder, ran harder and worked harder than their opponents, who looked as if they’d thrown in the towel before the game had even commenced. An already lacklustre Richmond defence was decimated further by game-ending injuries to Steven Morris and Nick Vlastuin. Alex Rance somehow kept Jarrad Waite goalless, but received minimal if any help from his teammates.

What Damien Hardwick would find very worrying was the disposal and tackle count. For a team that loses by 70 points, losing the disposal count by 40+ is expected. But to also have 36 fewer tackles than the opposition is a real problem. Richmond deserved to be down by the half ton at the long break, yet were saved by a few Kangaroo blunders in front of goal.

Most upsetting were the injuries. Morris, who is the victim of constant abuse by faceless identities in internet chatrooms suffered what looked to be an ACL tear. Although one leg was incapacitated, he still belted the ball to a teammate before falling to ground. Dylan Grimes tweaked a hamstring minutes before the game, Nick Vlastuin was concussed and Ben Griffiths was stretchered off with a leg injury. North’s Sam Wright performed an awful split after slipping over on the dewy surface, yet waved away the stretcher and was helped off the ground.

It’s easy to blame the conditions and injuries for such a loss, yet Richmond stunk up the joint from the start of the game. There were four players who attempted to drag their team to a respectable total, yet received no response from their yellow-and-black brothers. Miles, Cotchin, Riewoldt and Rance tried all day, running into opponents like costumed pinballs. Without those players, the margin would’ve been closer to 150.  The efforts of Martin, Hampson and Grigg were acceptable but it is better off forgetting the inputs of Vickery, Brandon Ellis, Lambert and Edwards.

North’s brigade of Harvey, Wells, Swallow, Cunnington and Ziebell were very impressive. They were prepared to dig the ball out of the pack and almost frightened the Richmond midfielders. When Miles and Cotchin went for the football, they were set upon and dumped by a mob of Roos. These Kangas were just aggressive, showing blatant disregard for their timid opponents, running through the centre of the ground in irrepressible waves. Their first half was spent capitalising on Richmond turnovers. Their second was spent burying them.

I didn’t rate North. Never really have. I always believe that their old heads will eventually tire and droop, and that their youngsters won’t be able to carry them over the line. However, these Roos have set themselves up perfectly for a Premiership run. Their top six is brilliant and they have a well-skilled second tier capable of carrying them.

These Roos are capable. These Tigers aren’t. Things need to happen to rectify the mental weakness that has plagued Richmond since their 2013 Elimination Final capitulation. They have the top-tier talent to take them to the upper echelon of the league, yet are still too inconsistent and are too dependent on singular players.

It may be happening yet again. We all know what this it is.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE    5.4   7.9   13.13   18.16  (124)

RICHMOND                     1.5   3.8    4.10     7.12  (54)

 

GOALS

North Melbourne: Harvey 4, Wells 3, Wood 2, Thomas 2, Atley, Brown, Daw, Petrie, Dal Santo, Cunnington, Macmillan

Richmond: Vickery 2, Riewoldt 2, Lloyd, Deledio, Miles

 

BEST

North Melbourne: Wells, Dal Santo, Swallow, Harvey, Cunnington, Ziebell.

Richmond: Miles, Cotchin, Rance.

VOTES

1: Harvey (NM). 2: Dal Santo (NM). 3: Wells (NM).

 

Umpires: Brendan Hosking, Ray Chamberlain, Robert Findlay

 

Official crowd: 17,844 at Blundstone Arena

FAlmanac banner

 

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Paddy well done on a honest appraisal of the game as most no I personally will never ease up on.Chapllin as he brought it on himself.I agree with most of what you have written until the last part the tigers have reasonable top end talent nothing shattering but then rall right away,lack 2nd tier and then fall right away with several honest battlers who are not good enough until they are actually honest about that they will stagnate the reality is it is rebuild time yet again

  2. Some disconnected thoughts, the storm in Marrickville already strong enough ad the storm over Richmond with a life of its own:

    * I KNEW all week this would happen, it being North, Hobart, us having won a few etc. Dimma still seemed surprised. though.
    * Very few doubt Morris’ heart, but his skill is not there. He is our new Jake King, when we need a Puopolo. However they should play that footage of him still trying – at least he was trying – when he knew his season was gone. Good man from a great line.
    * Edwards? what the hell. He was PATHETIC. Leave, if you want to.
    * Chaplin cops it but he was comical again at times, looking around to blame others while his man led him to the ball.
    * I really don’t like Ben Brown.
    * I really don’t like North, they are well cocky.
    * However not counting the week they played dead against us they are 19 from 21 or something. They are the benchmark. Which makes our loss in the QF last year less troubling. But you can’t tell our players that because they have no actual self-belief, they are like goldfish swimming around and around.
    * Picking Chaplin was a nonsense. I genuinely would have asked Jack to play chb and he would have done great. Make Vickery, Griff, Lloyd and Rioli work as a forward line.
    * Boy do we miss Grimes. He is one of about 3 players at the club who have the package – some sort of brain, some sort of courage, and some sort of skills.
    * I knew we were done when Corey Ellis missed that sitter. Rough to blame a 12yo, but…
    * Rance is ridiculously good.
    * Disposal, structure and kicking for goal all poor. Other than that I thought we were prety good.
    * Lambert was terrible against Essendon. And the worse this week. Great!

    The worst thing to me is it looked like draw-watching… two easy games now and we are 6-7 and still a chance. Pathetic. Predictable. Painless, because they can’t hurt me any more, they can only surprise me when they pull one out of their arses later in the year.

    Now, umpiring – jeez we copped the rough end early. Didn’t matter, but still shits me. 3-4 goals. with injuries and the misses for goals I suspect that just convinces some guys to leave the petrol in the tank.

    B Ellis. You’re joking.

    Oh, BTW, I thought Hampson was sensational, including around the ground. Hampson, Cotchin, Martin, Miles and Deledio (deadeye dick :P) can certainly trouble a few.

    Umpiring the head-duck yesterday – the Hawks are the worst offenders. If nothing else, can they not win this year and can someone give that Isaac Lewis a proper slap pls?

    GO TIGES!

  3. Indeed, what reports of Charlie Chaplin? How many missed tackles, fluffed short kicks and duffer handballs?

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great write up Paddy.
    I quite enjoyed seeing the game played in different conditions on Friday night, though June is not ideal for night games in Hobart.

  5. G’day Paddy,

    Your writing is interesting and a nice stuff!

    As for footy media, they are often exaggerated with harsh headline. Sadly sometimes the stories went ahead to the faces happened at clubs. I think it’s of falls out between former staff members at St Kilda (Scott Watters, then coach, and Chris Pelchan, then football department manager) was a good example. You can see negative and rubbish comments on Footy Classified. I just don’t like to hear comments made by journalists on the show. I wish Matthew Lloyd speaks up much more. Poor Hardwick to face too much criticism.

    The good example of relying on small number of particular players can be seen at Suns where Gary Ablett has been much relied. St Kilda’s young players create good games together even if we lost some games massively. We are still tough, but are improving. I agree with you about the risks of relying on small number of particular players.

    Cheers

    Yoshi

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