NORTH Melbourne has entrenched itself inside the top-six on Saturday afternoon, putting away a dogged – but depleted – Richmond outfit by 19 points at the Swinburne Centre
Despite missing a handful of key players due to injury, the Tigers stayed with the Kangaroos for most of the first three quarters, before Darren Crocker's team put the foot down in the closing stages of the third quarter and kept it down in the final term to seal the 5.7 (37) to 2.6 (18) victory.
TIGERS v ROOS Full match coverage and stats
The Kangaroos have now peeled off four consecutive wins to put them two games inside the top-six, with four rounds to play in the home and away season and can almost start planning for finals.
Richmond stayed with North Melbourne for much of the encounter, before conceding two crucial goals in the closing minutes of the third quarter after Sophie Abbatangelo danced around some Tigers to put the Roos two goals in front.
Minutes later Daria Bannister stretched the margin even further after punishing Richmond for a sloppy holding free kick in front of goal.
The final 15 minutes was an arm wrestle between two sides in different states of evolution. North Melbourne looks capable of beating the very best in the competition, while Richmond was kept in the contest by dual All-Australian Monique Conti who never stopped finding the ball in transition, dancing around opponents and putting the ball inside 50.
Richmond has struggled to find a great distribution of contribution this season, with Conti stacking up dazzling displays. This wasn’t the case on Saturday. Katie Brennan took plenty of marks. Rebecca Miller and Ellie McKenzie was busy. And Emelia Yassir was always lurking in dangerous places.
But it was business as usual for North Melbourne.
Star midfielder Ash Riddell continued her brilliant season to date, amassing massive numbers again to finish with 29 disposals and 20 kicks, while Jasmine Garner acquired 26 touches and 12 contested possessions and Emma Kearney found the ball on 21 occasions.
While Ryan Ferguson's side haven't been able to transform decent quarters into four points in 2022, the Tigers have been dealt a nightmare injury run, losing Harriet Cordner and Hannah Burchell to ACL tears, along with Laura McLelland to a season-ending syndesmosis injury, plus Courtney Wakefield who could miss the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.
The medical department inside Punt Road has been working overtime in the past month, but may not be required beyond another month if Richmond can't reignite a season that has only produced one win.
GOAL STREAK CONTINUES FOR STAR TIGER
It wasn't pretty, but it doesn’t matter as long it goes through the big sticks. Katie Brennan wobbled a set shot through for a major at the start of the second half to keep her record streak alive. The star spearhead has now kicked at least one goal in each of her past 12 games.
SHADES OF BIG BROTHER
Her brother has won two premierships in the famous yellow and black guernsey and is one of the best key forwards in the AFL at his peak, but Beth Lynch showed that marking ability runs in the genes. Facing her old side, Lynch took a couple of marks that would have her All-Australian brother, Tom Lynch, beaming with pride.
BALL-MAGNET ROO ON FIRE
Ash Riddell started the season by equalling the disposal record with 35 touches in round one and hasn’t looked back since. The 25-year-old has been on a tear, adding another big day on Saturday to take her season average to 28 disposals, 18 kicks and 10 handballs across the first six rounds.
Roos coach Darren Crocker: "I don't mind our football being a little bit understated with the way we're going about it. That's OK if we're sneaking under the radar of some people externally. We know what we need to keep doing internally. Let's just keep letting our footy do the talking for us to a certain extent."
Tigers coach Ryan Ferguson: "Couldn't be prouder. Sitting up there watching them fight for every ball, their intensity, their ability to take it up to a really good team, there was so much to like about it. Obviously there were some aspects and some growth areas in our game that we need to get better at. There were some frustrating moments but I thought the effort was unbelievable."
Richmond heads across to Western Australia next weekend to face West Coast, while North Melbourne travels south to host Collingwood in Hobart.
RICHMOND 0.1 1.3 2.3 2.6 (18)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 3.2 5.5 5.7 (37)
Richmond: Brennan, Yassir
North Melbourne: Bannister, Abbatangelo, Garner, M.King, Randall
Richmond: Conti, McKenzie, Brennan, Miller, S.Hosking
North Melbourne: Garner, Kearney, Riddell, Abbatangelo, Brown, M.King
North Melbourne: Bateman (ankle)
North Melbourne: Nil
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