North Melbourne smashes Richmond

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 4.7 12.11 17.14 (116)RICHMOND 3.4 10.6 11.8 13.10 (88)
Goals: North Melbourne: D Petrie 4 B Harvey 3 J Ziebell 2 R Bastinac 2 R Nahas 2 A Black B Cunnington L Greenwood T Goldstein. Richmond: D Martin 4 J Riewoldt 3 I Maric M Dea M Thomas S Edwards S Morris T Vickery.
Injuries: North Melbourne: B Cunnington (concussion) L Adams (concussion) L Thomas (hamstring) replaced in selected side by S Wright. Richmond: T Cotchin (ankle).
Reports: North Melbourne: M Firrito (North Melbourne) reported for striking T Vickery (Richmond) in the first quarter.
BEST: North Melbourne: Greenwood, Petrie, Harvey, Goldstein, Swallow, Cunnington, Hansen. Richmond: Houli, Petterd, Thomas, Martin, Ellis, Miles.
Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Jacob Mollison, Brendan Hosking.
Official Crowd: 32,977 at Etihad Stadium.

In the space of little more than 20 minutes, North Melbourne turned an alarming game on its head, its vice-captain turned around a muddling season, and Richmond's aggressive approach to turning the tide turned into a disaster. Ultimately, a different Richmond arrived at the same sorry result.

Thirty-five points in arrears at half-time, unable to stop Dustin Martin kicking goals and with a forward line that couldn't get a touch let alone a score, the Kangaroos dominated the third quarter to the tune of eight unanswered goals, three of them to Drew Petrie. Before Matt Dea pinched a late one for the Tigers, they had effected a 49-point turnaround in less than 20 minutes.

Petrie and the incredible Brent Harvey ensured the Roos would find a measure of consistency in an eccentric season, with Richmond's wounds salted by Robin Nahas, who was dumped by the Tigers last year and whose third quarter on Sunday night helped bring about the most staggering momentum shift.

In the end the margin was 28 points, the second half turnaround 63, and the scoreboard showed 13 North goals after the long break to three. Martin virtually disappeared, for which credit must go to Levi Greenwood, who had quelled Trent Cotchin before moving on to Martin and whose stocks as a ball-winning stopper continue to rise.

After eight weeks, the Roos have finally broken a frustrating win-one, lose-one pattern, and this 'W' should carry an asterisk. Captain Andrew Swallow will long remember his 150th, and Brad Scott his 100th as coach, as a victory as telling in its capacity to shift momentum as its big interstate scalps of 2014.

The Richmond players ran through a banner imploring them to "Restore the roar", and the Tigers' intent on an aggressive response to their limp showing in the Dreamtime game was naked on and off the field. Michael Firrito was off bleeding within a minute after an off-the-ball scrap with Ty Vickery, a stoush that so emboldened assistant coach Mark Williams on the bench that his efforts to fire up Ben Griffiths bordered on assault.

The spiteful mood was contagious, with ugly scenes in the crowd where a punch was thrown, blood drawn and children and the elderly were caught in the crossfire. Back on the field, those questioning whether the Tigers could add substance to aggression would have noted Harvey hitting the foot of a marking contest and kicking the umpteenth crumbing goal of his career.

But Richmond regrouped, absorbed North's inevitable push back, and when Ivan Maric received from Martin and goaled from deep in the pocket the Tigers had kicked five in a row - two of them to Martin - and led by 29 points. Omen seekers noted Harvey spilling a sitter 15 metres out and Majak Daw, who had backed his pace to good effect in a bright beginning, being pinged for running too far.

Martin added a fourth for the half and his team's seventh of the quarter in ominous fashion, fending off the irascible Scott Thompson after Nathan Foley had begun the attack with a similar dismissal of Aaron Mullett. Bachar Houli's 11 possessions for the quarter were telling.

North was struggling, and nowhere more than up forward where Petrie, Daw and Aaron Black all went statless through the second term. Daw paid the price, emerging after the break in a red vest.

The Roos' old heads responded, Harvey getting his second and Petrie finally leading Troy Chaplin to the ball, capitalising on a 50-metre penalty to goal, handing one to Ryan Bastinac with a terrific second effort, and adding another himself after marking a perfectly weighted Harvey ball.

Jack Ziebell lifted and joined the scoring spree, Nahas got under his old team's skin, Chaplin gifted Petrie a third and North's popular target man should have sunk a fourth for the quarter, and put away the Tigers into the bargain, but somehow missed after marking at the top of the goalsquare.

It didn't matter, North kicking another four in a row to put the result beyond doubt. Spotfires continued to break out off the ball until the final siren, but for all their first-half bite the Tigers trudged off sore and very sorry.

This story North Melbourne smashes Richmond first appeared on WA Today.