North Melbourne has managed to clinch a VFL Wildcard spot despite falling to the Tigers at the Swinburne Centre by 12 points.
With Carlton's heavy defeat to Gold Coast on Saturday, the Kangaroos only needed to avoid a heavy defeat in its final home and away game of the season, and did so with the final scoreboard reading 13.10 (88) to 11.10 (72).
However, circumstances looked worrying for the visitors in the third quarter, when Richmond strung together six straight goals to put North Melbourne's season in slight danger.
Tom Lynch's side responded emphatically in the final term though, outscoring the home side by 21 points to make sure its campaign continues for at least another week.
"I was really proud of our group today in a game that obviously had so much on the line," Lynch told NMFC Media post-game.
"We just loved the way the boys cracked in in and around the contest. Their pressure was fantastic.
"We've had a lot of change to our mix, and we had to ask a number of our players to play different roles and we thought today that they really bought into it, and it was super pleasing from a coaches' perspective."
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The defeat puts the Roos in 10th position on the ladder, with a knockout date with the Casey Demons on the agenda for next weekend.
"(Making the Wildcard Round) is a great achievement for the group and we certainly know that we're capable of playing some really good footy against the best teams and we've shown that this year, even today," he said.
"For large passages of the game today we played some of our best footy, and albeit having something like 14 guys under 20 (years old) … and that suggests to me that we've got some really exciting youth on our VFL list.
"We've got some great leaders from a VFL perspective, and our AFL boys were all solid contributors today."
It was slow going for the visitors in Sunday's opening minutes, with Jacob Bauer's goal for the Tigers standing as the game's only major after 18 minutes.
That was until Blake Drury (two goals, 10 disposals), who pulled double duty after replacing Luke McDonald as the sub in yesterday's AFL clash, knocked in North Melbourne's first to get things rolling.
Moments later Jamie Hope conjured up some magic with a classy snap from the pocket to hand the Roos the lead.
A quick handball out of congestion from Phoenix Spicer allowed Sam Lowson (three goals, 18 disposals) to snap his first of the day to open the second term, but three straight goals to the Tigers saw them head into the main change with an 11-point advantage.
In a relatively young midfield, Charlie Lazzaro led all comers at half-time with 21 disposals, seven tackles and six clearances before finishing with 35, 12, and 11 in an impressive individual performance.
He was ably support by captain Jack Watkins (29 disposals, eight marks, seven clearances) and Lachie Young (17 disposals, four clearances) in the engine room, with the latter seeing an increase in onball time as opposed to his usual wing/half-back role.
While Richmond dominated for most of the third quarter, important majors from Lowson and Tyler Sellers gave the Kangaroos something to build on in the last quarter.
A quick-reacting Jamie Hope was able to force a turnover close to goals which saw Lowson gather, sidestep a defender, and convert with a well-taken banana for the fourth quarter's first goal.
From then onwards it was Sellers' show with the key forward booting three of the game's final six majors while taking a handful of massive grabs.
Booming from Sellers 💥 pic.twitter.com/Xl2sF3DQeh— North Melbourne Reserves (@NMFCReserves) August 20, 2023
Ben Davis (28 disposals, seven marks) and Jarrod Lienert (24 disposals, nine rebound 50s) defended well behind the ball in what become a really physical contest, while AFL-listed pairing Kallan Dawson and Miller Bergman gathered 21 possessions apiece.
Sound 🆙 for this clash between Jarrod Lienert and Mohammed Yassine! 💥 pic.twitter.com/fx6xUrccQj— 7AFL (@7AFL) August 20, 2023
Young defender Jackson Archer was a late withdrawal prior to the bounce and was replaced by Bode Stevens, while Robbert Hansen jnr left the field in the second term and failed to return due to quad soreness.
"'Arch' (Archer) had been unwell and looking at him today it was as if he'd seen a ghost, but he was still trying to get out there and play – we know the type of competitor he is," Lynch said.
"It was just going to be asking too much of him while he was so unwell to go out there and play, even though we'd like 'Arch' even when he's at 70 per cent but he just wasn’t able to get to that today.
Tom Cappellari, who gathered 18 disposals and played a hand in several scores, went down late in the fourth quarter following a head-high strike from Richmond's Tyler Sonsie, but has pulled up well.
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RICHMOND TIGERS 2.5 5.8 11.9 13.10 (88)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1 4.3 6.6 11.10 (76)
Richmond: Bauer 4, Yassine 3, Ryan 2, Sonsie, Olden, Mansell, Brindley
North Melbourne: Sellers 4, Lowson 3, Drury 2, Hope, Bath
North Melbourne: Davis, Lazzaro, Watkins, Sellers, Lowson, Lienert
North Melbourne: Hansen jnr (quad), Archer (illness - replaced in selected side by Bode Stevens)