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VFL: Report Card (Round 6)

Match result

Richmond 21.13 139 defeats North Melbourne 7.9 51.

In action

Taylor Garner (8 disposals, 4 tackles, 1 goal), Luke Davies-Uniacke (7 disposals - first half only), Paul Ahern (22 disposals, 3 tackles), Nick Larkey (7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 goal), Alex Morgan (13 disposals), Ben McKay (14 disposals, 5 marks), Sam Durdin (11 disposals, 4 marks), Will Walker (14 disposals, 2 goals), Braydon Preuss (10 disposals), Josh Williams (21 disposals, 5 marks), Kyron Hayden (10 disposals, 5 tackles), Tristan Xerri (15 disposals, 8 marks, 3 goals), Tom Murphy (10 disposals), Cameron Zurhaar (14 disposals, 5 tackles), Oscar Junker (7 disposals) 

Nick Rippon (24 disposals, 6 tackles), Ty Leonardis (14 disposals), Mitch Rodd (2 disposals - injured), Nash Holmes (26 disposals, 7 tackles), Chris Jansen (24 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles), Fraser Cameron (8 disposals), Louis Cunningham (8 disposals), Michael Close (9 disposals, 6 marks) 

Story of the game

Seven unanswered goals allowed a ruthless Richmond outfit to hold pole position from start-to-finish in Sunday’s VFL curtain-raiser at Etihad Stadium.

Looking to bounce back from a thrilling one-point loss to Footscray last week, the Tigers ran riot against North, which struggled to get out of first gear.

Doubles from Anthony Miles and Brandon Wood gave North an uphill task early, before reliable forward Nick Larkey broke the goal draught with just minutes remaining in the first term.

It was a difficult afternoon for the clever tall, who missed two earlier chances to reduce the buffer from set-shots.

After bringing the margin down to 44-points at half-time, Richmond sprinted out of the blocks in a shortened final term, booting a further eight unanswered goals before in-form big man Tristan Xerri bucked the trend.

Speedster Will Walker made the most of his move forward in the second half, setting-up Xerri for one of his majors, while also providing some much-needed pace amongst North’s talls.

The move forward added another dimension to North’s attack outside of traditional threats Nick Larkey and Michael Close.

The successful integration beside Taylor Garner could prove to be an option in future weeks when contested high-balls are few and far between.

North kicked the final two goals of the game to give credence to the hosts final score, but the result was a mere formality as Richmond’s incessant attack reigned supreme.

“It was a disappointing result today,” David Loader told North Media.

“We were relatively poor across the board. We got a bit wrong today, certainly structure-wise as well. But the way that Richmond played and that we allowed them to play their brand of footy, was disappointing.

“We’ll pick up the pieces and review the stuff we can be better at. We’ve got an enormous challenge on our hands next week.

“To play Port Melbourne at their home ground. They’re in good form at the moment, it’ll be interesting to see the response from the boys.”

Best of AFL

Sam Durdin
If Sam Durdin continues to perform with the consistency he’s offered in the VFL this season, it won’t be long before his compelling case for senior selection is seriously considered.

The courageous defender showed plenty of zip in the backline, taking three contested marks amongst a sea of tall bodies in the second term. 

“Etihad is a great ground obviously. It’s always a great thing to play on one of the best stadiums in Australia … we’re pretty fortunate this year” said Durdin.

“It’s [marking] has been one of my key focuses in training, is working on my high-balls with Benny McKay and Dan Nielson.

Coach David Loader was impressed by Durdin's performance. 

“He has put together two really good games,” Loader said. 

“He was again one of our best today. When you think about it, he’s had a month of really solid football.”

Best of VFL

Michael Close
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a week where North co-captain Michael Close hasn’t made an impact.

The big man occupies multiple roles for the Roos, mainly as a key forward and ruck alternative.

Close was at his hard-working best throughout the morning, leading by example and providing a physical presence at stoppages.

“Closey’ has been exceptional this year to the minute,” Loader said. 

“Even though he’s had better games than what he had today, his versatility to play forward and back really helped us.”

Talking points

Xerri stands tall
A morning spent primarily in the forward line has fast-tracked the development of Tristan Xerri.

The impressive tall displayed the versatility of his game at Etihad Stadium, easing the scoring burden on Nick Larkey and Michael Close. 

Although he also shared the ruck duties, three goals from three attempts was nothing short of impressive. 

“Every week I try to play my role for the team,” Xerri said. 

“I thought I executed pretty well today, obviously getting on the scoreboard a fair bit.

“I like the ruck. But at this stage of my career, I’m obviously a bit smaller than guys like Preussy’ or Soldo, that we came up against today.

“I’ve always liked the challenge, if it’s not impacting with my body, I’ll make sure that I’m doing the team things and following up at ground level.”

McKay wins defensive battle
Ben McKay was tasked with the duty of containing Richmond’s highest goal scorer in the VFL, Mabior Chol.

The enormity of the job didn’t faze the confident key-position prospect.

McKay has been a stand-out in defence alongside Sam Durdin and continues to be a calm presence under forward pressure.

“He did a really good job,” Loader said. 

“I think that Benny and [Sam] Durdin, they were two of our better players out there today. I thought they were last week too.

“They’ve been really good for a few weeks now.”

Garner’s immediate impact
When given space inside the forward 50, Taylor Garner is always going to cause problems for opposition defences.

Introduced at quarter-time, Garner didn’t need long to make his presence known and make an influence on the game. It took just over ten minutes for him to impact the scoreboard. 

“He’s a high-energy player, we would’ve loved to have had him out there all day,” Loader added.

“Due to the short break next week, he was limited with game time.

“He was good, stuff is always happening when Taylor is on the footy. We look forward to seeing what he brings next week.”