AFL Round 18 North Melbourne v Richmond: All the news, action and fallout

Richmond is clinging to eighth spot and will have to face its toughest opponents in the run home without superstar Dustin Martin. Get the latest injury news.

There’s no return date yet for Richmond stars Dustin Martin and Tom Lynch, who will both miss Friday’s crunch clash with Fremantle where a loss could potentially see the misfiring Tigers to lose their place in the top eight.

Martin has played just eight games in 2022 and none since round 16 when he suffered what was thought to be a minor hamstring issue.

But it has kept him out of Richmond’s back-to-back losses to Gold Coast and North Melbourne which have left the Tigers in a precarious finals position with a tough few weeks of games ahead.

Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Lynch, who hurt his hamstring early in the loss to the Suns, has also endured a stop-start second half of the season and his absence will extend to a second week as he deals with his second hamstring issue this season.

The club has listed both players as “short-term” injuries, but every week they remain sidelined makes Richmond’s battle for a finals spot that much more difficult, with games against the Brisbane Lions and then Port Adelaide to follow the clash with the Dockers.

Dustin Martin hurt his hamstring after a blistering first half against West Coast. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Dustin Martin hurt his hamstring after a blistering first half against West Coast. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Tigers are hanging on to eighth place on the ladder by percentage and wins to either the Western Bulldogs, who play Melbourne, or St Kilda, who are facing West Coast, this weekend would see Richmond take a tumble down the ladder should they lose for a third-straight week.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was scathing of the early effort from hios players in Saturday’s shock loss to the 18th placed Kangaroos, calling some of their efforts “abysmal”.

“It’s Richmond killing Richmond at the moment,” he said.

Potentially helping their cause this week however could be the return of ruckman Ivan Soldo from a thumb injury, with Sydney Stack (fractured cheekbone) and Jack Ross (knee) also expected to be available for selection.

How Tigers blew golden chance in 120 seconds

– Glenn McFarlane

Richmond’s best is good enough to win this year’s premiership.

Too much of its worst could see it miss the finals altogether.

With a crucial four points at stake, we take a look at the closing moments of Richmond’s shock loss to bottom side North Melbourne on Saturday at Marvel Stadium.

Jack Graham’s goal regained the lead for Richmond at the 17-minute-mark of the last term before Cameron Zurhaar grabbed it back for North Melbourne with his sixth goal of the game at the 25-minute-mark - as North leads by four points.

The Tigers look dejected after a the heartbreaking loss to North Melbourne. Picture: Getty
The Tigers look dejected after a the heartbreaking loss to North Melbourne. Picture: Getty

INSIDE THE LAST TWO MINUTES

2 minutes remaining: The ball is locked deep in Richmond’s forward line, but a clearing kick from the Kangaroos - who lead by four points - gives them a moment of respite.

1.24 remaining: Young Tiger Ben Miller marks at half-back, but plays on immediately and kicks the ball off the side of his boot, out of bounds. North Melbourne free kick

1.10 remaining: Toby Nankervis repels the Kangaroos’ kick forward with a mark. His kick inside the corridor is intercepted by Phoenix Spicer.

0.59 remaining: A long Curtis Taylor kick goes through for a behind. Richmond gets the ball back for a kick-in. North Melbourne by five points.

0.52 remaining: Richmond’s kick-in lands in the centre square and is marked by Noah Cumberland who plays on and launches to Jake Aarts, who marks 35m out.

0.45 remaining: Aarts plays on, finds himself under pressure, is tackled by Bailey Scott and handballs to Kamdyn McIntosh. McIntosh gives it back to Aarts, who snaps the ball to the goal square. Roos defender Ben McKay edges out Jack Riewoldt and Liam Baker to knock it through for a behind. North Melbourne by four points.

0.30 remaining: Jaidyn Stephenson’s long kick-in heads out towards the wing and it dribbles out the back. The Roos take it forward before a stoppage eventuates.

0.05 remaining: A ball-up occurs and Luke Davies-Uniacke boots the ball deep into attack as the siren sounds. Roos win by four.

Adams opens up on ‘whirlwind’ rise to emotional win

- Marc McGowan

North Melbourne caretaker coach Leigh Adams just knocked his South Croydon premiership down to second on his career highlights list.

Adams completed his “whirlwind” rise from development and VFL coach to AFL coaching winner on Saturday when the last-placed Kangaroos pinched victory from the jaws of defeat against Richmond.

Stepping in after David Noble’s mid-week sacking, the 34-year-old former North Melbourne midfielder was delighted with his players’ performance, particularly how they dug in after being challenged.

Leigh Adams speaks to his players during his first game in charge. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Leigh Adams speaks to his players during his first game in charge. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

The Roos’ second win after 14 defeats in a row leaves them only two percentage points from leapfrogging West Coast and climbing out of the competition cellar.

“That’s by far better than any playing moment I’ve had,” Adams said.

“If I want to live to 40, I don’t think (coaching is for me), but if you can guarantee me that emotion after the game every week, I’d love to do it.

“But give me two or three more weeks and we’re having this press conference and if it’s two or three more wins, it might be a little bit more on the affirmative, but I’m really enjoying the ride so far.”

Cameron Zurhaar was the hero with six goals, including the match-winner after gathering a Todd Goldstein tap, but Jy Simpkin and Jaidyn Stephenson were also major contributors.

There was also plenty to like from young pair Paul Curtis, who looks a strong chance to earn this round’s Rising Star nomination, and Flynn Perez.

North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio with caretaker coach Leigh Adams after the win. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio with caretaker coach Leigh Adams after the win. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

“It doesn’t matter what coach gets sacked; they seem to play a good game the next week,” Adams said.

“As I said to the boys in the rooms afterwards, you can always probably get yourself up with a change of scenery or change of coach, but ... can we do that again in seven days’ time?

“If we can do that, yeah, maybe we might be able to get on a roll. But the next probably three to four days will be really important for us to get back to a level playing field, so we can train really well to go again next week.”

Nick Larkey was subbed out late after struggling with a heel problem but Adams was confident the setback wasn’t serious.

‘This is for Nobes’: Roos end horror week with stunner

The caretaker coach strikes again, with some serious help from Cameron Zurhaar and a woefully inefficient Richmond.

Leigh Adams, like Rhyce Shaw did against these same Tigers three years ago, made a winning start to his coaching career on Saturday as North Melbourne won for just the second time in 21 games.

The Kangaroos ended a hellish week with a four-point triumph after coach David Noble’s mid-week sacking following only five wins in 38 games.

In the most bonkers match of the year, Zurhaar snatched back the lead for the Kangaroos inside the last three minutes after Richmond looked likely to deliver heartbreak for their last-placed opponents.

It was Zurhaar’s sixth goal – he kicked five to half-time – and left him as the undoubted hero.

In a crazy finish befitting what was a strange afternoon at Marvel Stadium, the Tigers twice marked the ball at half-back in the dying minutes, only to turn the Sherrin over horribly each time.

Cameron Zurhaar was the hero for North Melbourne. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Cameron Zurhaar was the hero for North Melbourne. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

But there is one moment Richmond fans, players and coaches alike will remember above all others.

Jake Aarts, who came on as the medical substitute when Josh Gibcus was subbed off with a shoulder injury, marked the ball inside 50 in the last minute, with the Tigers trailing by five minutes.

With nothing but grass in front of him, Aarts ill-advisedly chose to play on and was brought down in a tackle as Richmond scrapped just a behind from the play.

It’s been a costly fortnight for the Tigers, who coughed up a 40-point second-half lead in an after-the-siren defeat to Gold Coast last week.

They now find themselves in a ladder logjam and at genuine risk of missing finals again.

After blowing a 29-point buffer late in the third quarter against Collingwood seven days ago, the Roos again had to withstand a furious fightback.

Paul Curtis capped North Melbourne’s exhilarating first half with a brilliant contested mark then goal after the siren to give his side a game-high 32-point advantage.

Noah Cumberland was impressive on a disappointing night for the Tigers. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Noah Cumberland was impressive on a disappointing night for the Tigers. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Five Zurhaar goals from as many touches – three of them off snaps – and 22 Jy Simpkin disposals inspired the Kangaroos to that lead entering the main break.

Simpkin finished with 34 disposals, 18 contested possessions, nine clearances and nine score involvements.

But Richmond surged back into the contest as soon as it corrected its wonky radar in front of goal.

After reaching a barely believable 3.15 early in the third quarter, a Jayden Short set-shot strike supercharged the Tigers’ rally.

They kicked 6.1 from their next seven scoring shots and were within 10 points once Noah Balta banged through a 50m goal after the three-quarter time siren.

Richmond’s goal rush continued in the final term, even as Jack Riewoldt added two more behinds to his 2.6 tally, and the result seemed inevitable for North Melbourne when Graham kicked truly.

But there was always another twist on this day as the Kangaroos walked away with rare smiles in an otherwise nightmarish season.

Zurhaar with president Sonja Hood. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Zurhaar with president Sonja Hood. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Wildly contrasting efficiency

None of North Melbourne’s players should lack motivation after the events of this week and, frankly, all season but the Tigers made it easier for them to make a statement.

Richmond kicked a putrid 0.6 from shots inside 40m in the first half, with Jack Riewoldt among the worst culprits, while co-captain Tony Nankervis missed a rushed shot from the top of the goal square.

Meanwhile, the Roos kicked truly from their first eight scoring shots until Jack Ziebell blemished their perfect evening midway through the second term.

They went to half-time with a 10.2 (62) scoreline once impressive first-year player Paul Curtis slotted his second after out-marking Nick Vlastuin.

The Tigers at that stage? 3.12 (30), including an accurate Liam Baker bomb from beyond 50m.

They added three further behinds to start the third term before Jayden Short wobbled through a set shot that seemed to end the rot.

Daniel Rioli’s after kicking a goal on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos
Daniel Rioli’s after kicking a goal on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

‘This is for you Nobes’

An emotional Simpkin has dedicated the victory to his former coach.

Speaking after the pulsating four-point triumph, a proud Simpkin was quick to acknowledge Noble’s lasting influence.

“We owe this to Nobes, he’s been there the last couple of years and worked his backside off to get this group better and send us on our way,” the star midfielder told Fox Footy.

“So this is for you Nobes, you deserve it.”

The star midfielder also hailed the resilience of the playing group after another difficult week.

“It’s amazing feeling, we’ve had so much go on, not just this week, but the past couple of years, it’s been so tough,” Simpkin said.

“I’m just so proud of the boys, I could cry right now.”

Jack Ziebell after the final siren. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Jack Ziebell after the final siren. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

‘Richmond killing Richmond’

A fuming Damien Hardwick has taken aim at his Tigers’ lack of intent and woeful inaccuracy, claiming it’s “Richmond killing Richmond” after consecutive costly defeats.

Hardwick’s men are left clinging to a spot inside the top eight ahead of clashes with Fremantle, Brisbane and Port Adelaide after a horror loss to a North Melbourne side that sacked coach David Noble mid-week.

The result follows the Tigers giving up a 40-point second-half lead against Gold Coast last week.

Richmond started Saturday’s match 3.15 and finished 11.22, including Jake Aarts inexplicably playing on inside 50 in the final minute when he could have kicked the match-winner from a 40m set shot.

But Hardwick was less concerned with Aarts’ brain fade and rather with everything that led to the Tigers not having already put the match away at that point.

“Until you’re in that situation, you don’t know,” Hardwick said of Aarts.

“Unfortunately, he probably made a decision that if he had his time again, he’d take back, but the reality is he made it, so we move on.

“There were numerous reasons (we lost). The last defensive-end goal was poor ... you can’t let a guy (Cameron Zurhaar) come from the other side of the pack and just stroll through.

“It was ridiculous, and probably sums us up, really. It’s Richmond killing Richmond at the moment.”

Toby Nankervis sprayed crucial set shots for goal on Saturday. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos
Toby Nankervis sprayed crucial set shots for goal on Saturday. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Hardwick made a point of highlighting the Tigers’ “abysmal” and “diabolical” pressure rating of 1.6 during the first half, which was well below the AFL average of 1.8.

But what frustrated the triple premiership coach most was they lost despite creating more than enough opportunities, including 21 more inside 50s and 11 more scoring shots.

“Our system in itself held up – 60-odd inside 50s, 30-odd scoring shots. We just didn’t execute,” he said.

“It’s not as if they were hard shots on goal. We kicked 1.9 from inside 30. We’re paid to kick goals; we didn’t. That’s the reality of it.

“Great win by North. I thought their hardness and ability to play quick was good but, all in all, if you look at that template, we should win.”

Hardwick doesn’t expect to regain any of Tom Lynch, Dustin Martin or Ivan Soldo next week and first-year defender Josh Gibcus (shoulder) could join them on the sidelines after being subbed off.

He remains bullish about Richmond’s prospects if his team can battle its way into September.

“If we get there, we’re a chance but we’ve got some work to do,” Hardwick said.

“We’ve just got to figure out what makes us, us. We’re doing a lot of things right but we’re killing ourselves at the moment, so it’s a challenge.

“You sit there and look at things and reflect on what we could have done and this, that and the other but we just had to kick goals.”

Scoreboard

KANGAROOS 4.0, 10.2, 12.2, 14.8 (92)

TIGERS 2.5, 3.12, 8.16, 11.22 (88)

McGOWAN’S BEST

Kangaroos: Zurhaar, Simpkin, Stephenson, Anderson, Davies-Uniacke, McKay.

Tigers: Prestia, Nankervis, Cotchin, Cumberland, Short.

GOALS

Kangaroos: Zurhaar 6, Curtis 3, Young, Stephenson, Scott, Simpkin, Goldstein.

Tigers: Cumberland 3, Riewoldt 2, Baker, Short, Rioli, Balta, Miller, Graham.

INJURIES Kangaroos: Larkey (foot/ankle). Tigers: Gibcus (shoulder).

UMPIRES Findlay, Pell, Rebeschini

VENUE Marvel Stadium

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

McGOWAN’S VOTES

3 C.Zurhaar (NM)

2 J.Simpkin (NM)

1 J.Stephenson (NM)

Originally published as AFL Round 18 North Melbourne v Richmond: All the news, action and fallout