Last month I started my 2019 AFL preview, detailing the competitive prospects of six of the competition’s teams, from Adelaide to Fremantle.
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The Richmond Tigers have defeated the North Melbourne Kangaroos by 10 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
When Dylan Grimes broke off half back and charged through the centre, Tigers fans hoped that speed and play would be replicated all day.
But the Kangaroos put a halt to Richmond’s rebound and made it a hard slog for the Tigers to get their seventh win for 2018.
The first half of the match was played on Richmond’s terms and they took a 20 point lead into the long break.
In the third term though, it was all North Melbourne as they lifted their intensity and matched Richmond’s pressure.
The Tigers weathered the storm and found ways to score in the last, putting themselves up by 12 with only a few minutes to play.
North Melbourne had the last three scoring shots of the day, but under pressure, the usually accurate Ben Brown and Jed Anderson weren’t able to capitalise for the Roos.
Ben Cunnington dominated possession for North Melbourne, racking up 32 contested possessions in his 38 disposal game.
The previous record for contested possessions in a single game was 29, held by Patrick Dangerfield and Josh Kennedy (Sydney).
Ben Jacobs went to Dustin Martin at the first centre bounce and followed him closely all day, holding Martin to 16 disposals, only 3 contested, and 1 clearance.
Jed Anderson (28 disposals, 5 tackles) and Jamie Macmillan (20 disposals, 1 goal) were also good for North Melbourne.
Trent Cotchin led the way for Richmond, with Jacobs masking Martin it was up to the captain to impact the game.
Cotchin finished with 37 disposals, including 22 contested possessions, and kicked an important goal in the last quarter as well.
Josh Caddy (4 goals) and Kane Lambert (3 goals) were brilliant up forward for the Tigers, while Bachar Houli (27 disposals) and Nick Vlastuin (26 disposals, 8 tackles) had plenty of the ball rebounding off half-back.
Luke McDonald was reported for high contact on Kane Lambert, the Match Review Panel will decide whether it was anything more than a free kick.
Jarrad Waite finished the afternoon on the bench with a corked hip and rolled ankle.
Next weekend, North Melbourne will host the GWS Giants at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and Richmond will travel to Optus Stadium for a top of the table clash with West Coast on Sunday afternoon.