AFL Round 12 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Predictably Unpredictable

 

North Melbourne versus Richmond

7.10pm, Sunday, 8 June

Etihad Stadium

The 1 point advantage held by Richmond at quarter-time of this match did not tell the story. The Tigers had clearly been the better team. After a dismal effort against Essendon the week before, Hardwick had sent his lot out against North full of aggression. There was venom in Richmond’s play. Vickery sent Firrito off with a cut cheek before the first bounce and spotfires proceeded to break out everywhere. Maric jumped all over Goldstein and Martin cleared from the centre.

Although post-match North said they were expecting Richmond to start well, they looked rattled by the intensity. North took time to settle and only dodgy calls by umpires on the blind side of play, and two time-on goals, kept them in touch.

Richmond’s aggression and momentum continued. After a period of arm wrestle, they kicked seven goals from the halfway point of the second term. Maric continued to dominate, creating opportunities for Deledio and Cotchin, while Martin moved forward, kicking three on McDonald and Atley who, while trying to create run from the backline, was caught out.

Richmond by 35 at half-time.

From where I stood in my customary position behind the ground level seats, city side wing, taken in by a rugged yet friendly bunch of Roos and Tigers, Richmond looked irresistible and unbeatable. North, on the other hand, were offering yet another meek performance following a stirring last up effort, this time away to West Coast. As Paddy Ryan, my U16s coach might say, North have become ‘predictably unpredictable’.

During the half-time chat, a Tiger, with his long weekend stubble and social worker friendly face, said the Tigers were off the chain, playing liberated after seeing their slim finals chances disappear last week. When I asked why they waited until their season was shot before having a real crack, he sighed and shook his head. The Roos in our little huddle, myself included, were on the verge of conceding this one.

It shows what good judges we are.

As the saying goes, I don’t know what Brad Scott said to his team during the break, but whatever it was, it worked. Goldy must have received a kick up the bum, for the second half was the best I’ve seen him play. He was a man possessed, winning everything in the air and on the ground, feeding handballs to runners, and he capped it off with a last quarter goal.

Our forward line, which usually offers as much scrap as the Melbourne Anarchists Club down on St Georges Road, joined the fray. Drew led the way. He demanded the ball, kicking three in the third term and playing a role in others, including one involving four efforts in the single passage of play: contesting the mark, gathering, kicking from a pack, following up and knocking on to Bastinac, who turned and goaled from the square. Inspiring stuff.

Everyone got in on the act, with strong tackling, slick movement, overlap and all out attack. North kicked 8 goals in sixteen minutes during the third term and when former Tiger, Nahas, grabbed the lead with a shot on the run, pandemonium followed. There was hugging and dancing in the aisles and I high-fived everyone around me in royal blue and white.

The last term offered Richmond opportunity to stand their ground, however with pride not a good enough reason, they declined. North eased away comfortable 28 point winners.

There are two ways in which you can look at this victory. On the one hand, North allowed a six goal lead to an ordinary opponent and wouldn’t have been so fortunate against a better team. Alternatively, we can commend North for showing the kind of mettle and belief they aren’t renowned for and trust this win will steer our season in the right direction. Fingers crossed, I’ll go with the latter view.

North are in the Eight and face Adelaide away next in a match we should win. For the Tigers, their plight is best summed up by a bloke I chatted to afterwards on the platform at Southern Cross awaiting the Upfield Line ghost train that never seems to arrive.

‘We’re used to it, mate,’ he said with a shrug.

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 4.7 12.11 17.14 (116)

RICHMOND 3.4 10.6 11.8 13.10 (88)

GOALS

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

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

BEST

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

Richmond: Martin, Houli. Thomas, Cotchin.

Umpires: Hoskin, Schmitt, Mollison

32,977 at Etihad Stadium

Our Votes: 3- Goldstein (NM), 2- Petrie (NM), 1-Greenwood (NM).

 

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