The rest is history
Of the nine players North Melbourne rested last week, four were in the best players on the ground, with last week’s substitute, Brent Harvey, well and truly in there as well.
Andrew Swallow: 22 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles.
Jarrad Waite: 16 disposals, eight marks, seven tackles, 4.2.
Shaun Higgins: 15 disposals, eight marks, four tackles, one goal.
Todd Goldstein: 46 hit outs, 13 disposals, three clearances.
Brent Harvey: 31 disposals, seven clearances, two goals.
What Richmond did well
North Melbourne had a loose man in defence from the first minute of the game and Richmond spent most of the first quarter trying to negate that and create space for Vickery deep inside 50.
They found a solution to this at the start of the second quarter by having Brett Deledio start the quarter at half back, manning up Brent Harvey.
As soon as the ball was bounced, both men ran straight at the stoppage, but when Richmond won the clearance, Deledio kept streaming forward while Harvey got sucked into the play.
Deledio found himself alone, 45 metres out from goal, forcing the North Melbourne spare to pick him. This created a hole in the North Melbourne defence, a hole Jack Riewoldt ran straight into, taking a mark and kicking the first goal of the quarter.
While this could have backfired and allowed Harvey to get the ball in space going forward, the plan worked perfectly and Deledio, by drawing Lachie Hansen to him and out of the space, allowed Richmond to capitalise.
Richmond attempted to do this multiple times by varying the starting position of their own loose man from deep in defence to pushed all the way up to the wing.
While Richmond got plenty of the ball in the middle of the ground, they didn’t generate enough scoring opportunities to take advantage of their dominance for much of the first three quarters.
What kept them in the game was the fact that between the 23-minute mark of the first quarter and the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter, they kicked 11 goals straight, making the most of every opportunity they got.
You can have all the analysis in the world, but at the end of the day, if your best players aren’t getting their hands on the ball, you’re not going to win a big final and Richmond’s leaders were nowhere to be found on Sunday afternoon.
Captain Trent Cotchin was held to nine disposals, the equal lowest tally of his career, by tagger Ben Jacobs and had no impact on the game at any stage. Brandon Ellis had ten disposals, eight of which were uncontested, but only went at 60% disposal efficiency. Shane Edwards only had the eight disposals and did not have a single statistic to his name at half time, aside from two frees against.
They also took a risk bringing back injured duo Reece Conca and Ben Griffiths and while Conca kicked a goal with his first kick, he wasn’t up with the pace of the game. Conca had the eight disposals as the sub at a reasonable 75% disposal efficiency, but his two clangers were at inopportune times and having only played two games in 2015, he was not able to keep with the heat of an elimination final. Griffiths, with four disposals, simply had no impact on the game and was subbed out accordingly.
Richmond will regret not backing in dropped forwards Sam Lloyd and Ben Lennon, who would’ve troubled North’s top-heavy backline.
Todd Goldstein soundly beat Ivan Maric in the ruck. Goldstein had 46 hit outs to Maric’s 19, but the damage done from those stoppages all but decided the game.
While Richmond managed a decent 32 points from stoppages, North scored 48. Accuracy aside, North’s 13 scoring shots from stoppages in a final is what gave them the edge in the end.
The Kangaroos won 30 out of 50 stoppages around the ground, and with Griffiths not at his best, Maric not getting the job done and Cotchin and Ellis not being able to have any impact in the middle, North Melbourne dominated from clearances.
Both forward lines fired with Riewoldt and Vickery kicking six goals between them, while Waite, Petrie and Brown kicked seven, but North winning the ball consistently at stoppages gave their forwards far more opportunities, which is why North had an extra 12 scoring shots, an extra 13 inside 50s, and most importantly, an extra eight marks inside 50. The margin may have actually flattered the Tigers in the end.
North Melbourne, while inaccurate, gave themselves the most chances to score all game and Richmond, with 13 fewer inside 50s, just didn’t give themselves enough scoring opportunities despite leading for most of the game. Richmond’s accuracy throughout the game kept them in front, but statistically, North were always going to run over the top of them in the end.
3: Brent Harvey (NM)
2: Jarrad Waite (NM)
1: Ben Jacobs (NM)