Round 23 – Richmond v North Melbourne: Scott’s missing minions

by John Green

 

In the days leading up to this match I felt like I was on a ship in the Spanish Main with a speculative cargo. What awaits us? Fame and fortune, or a duel with pirates in opposing colours and a one-way trip down to Davy Jones’ Locker? With a spot in the finals assured, who are we going to play and where are we going to tangle with them? Beat North and we’ll probably play them again a week later. Beat North and Gold Coast upset Sydney (admittedly unlikely) and we’re off to Subiaco with a double chance and a date with the Dockers. Lose to the Roos and the Crows overcome the Cats at Simonds Stadium and we’re headed to Adelaide. Which leads to a secret plan for a road trip with my son which I won’t tell my wife about yet…

Ah, the speculation.

But this all comes to an end when North announces its intention to rest key players for the clash. Nine of them, including Goldstein, Swallow, Dal Santo, Higgins and Waite. The voyage into challenging waters becomes a leisurely cruise on the Gippsland Lakes. With a win over the Kangas now a foregone conclusion this game becomes an irrelevant prelude to an elimination final on the following weekend. The last time Richmond played a rival in the closing round before meeting them in a final a few days later was when they encountered Essendon in 2001. Neither club rested players. The Tigers beat Essendon – Richardson five goals and Ottens four – before being crushed by the Bombers in a qualifying final. So much for bragging rights.

North has nothing to lose. Regardless of Brad Scott’s sanctimonious indignation, while his players on the park will certainly want to win, the club is quite prepared to give up the four points in the quest for greater spoils in the finals. This almost certainly means that Adelaide will not host a home final. No wonder the Crows aren’t happy.

The B team look of the Kangaroos is exacerbated when Brent Harvey dons the substitutes vest. Maybe it would be more honest for them to wear their Werribee strip. There’s a curious lack of intensity in the stands. Everybody knows how this match is going to turn out. There’s an audible sigh from every female in the stadium over the age of 18 when Hugh Jackman is introduced to toss the coin.

Majak Daw cannons into Brandon Ellis seconds after the opening bounce. Later in the term he sets off on an enterprising run from the centre square and roosts it home from outside fifty. The Tigers are strangely lacklustre. It’s as if they turned up to Etihad expecting North to meet them in the carpark before the game to hand them a cheque for the four premiership points. But these Kangaroos mean business. The Northerners are applying intense physical pressure to their opponents. The Tigers have neither the time nor the space to attack down the central corridor and are forced to go wide. North’s lesser lights in McKenzie, Hansen, Tippett, Atley and Turner are clearly looking to escape from Chirnside Park and seize some finals action in the seniors. It’s not until the 22-minute mark of the first term that Ellis snaps Richmond’s first goal. Riewoldt and Vickery are unsighted. When the ball does enter Richmond’s forward zone poor delivery gives their attackers no chance at all. They score only two goals in a half of footy.

North leads by 10 points at half time. Their lead is extended to 16 points in the opening minute of the third quarter when Kayne Turner dribbles a six-pointer. There’s just a hint of consternation on the terraces. But the Tigers awake from their slumber at last and boot three majors in as many minutes to snatch the lead back. Deledio, Cotchin, Lambert and Miles get on top at the centre bounces. For the first time in the contest North’s intensity begins to wilt. Mistakes proliferate and their tackling pressure falls away.

There’s still only 17 points in it at the final break. But the Tigers have all the run. And it’s always hard to score against Richmond’s miserly defence. Vickery with three goals and Riewoldt with two emerge in the final act. Martin chimes in with three of his own and the Tigers break out with nine last-quarter goals on their way to a 41-point victory.

So Richmond guarantees itself a home final and coach Scott gets himself a rematch in an elimination final. The Kangaroos have achieved their objective. Their second-string outfit has managed to stick with a finals rival for three quarters. They’re staying in Victoria and they’re not playing the Bulldogs. Instead they’re backing themselves to upend the Tigers with nine topliners returning and Harvey playing for the whole game. And why shouldn’t they be confident? North had beaten Richmond five times in a row before tonight.

Brad Scott turned off the power at the mains to save energy. He’s expecting the power to come back on when he flicks the switch on the weekend. The Tigers are hoping he made a bad call.

 

Comments

  1. Good report, John.
    If North loses next Sunday, B Scott is a fool.
    If North wins, he is a genius.

    However, I must say that I wasn’t overly impressed by the Tigers,
    although that is tempered by the “foregone conclusion” nature
    of the match.

  2. It reminded me of watching Fremantle play Carlton.
    There was nothing to watch except time – how long North would be competitive for.
    They weren’t too bad, but the Tigers seemed disinterested until the game broke open.
    In our last three matches North has conceded seven goals twice in a quarter and against the Tigers, nine goals in a quarter.
    We’re leaking goals with our best side.
    Hope it doesn’t happen this week….

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