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I thought I was gone: Roo on that tackle

Umps wrong on Tiger tackle Hayden Kennedy and Luke Ball join Nat Edwards to review the first week of finals on Whistleblowers
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 13: Anthony Miles of the Tigers is tackled by Ben Cunnington of the Kangaroos during the 2015 AFL First Elimination Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on September 13, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Ben Cunnington did some tackling of his own against the Tigers
I thought I was gone once I went to ground
Ben Cunnington

BEN CUNNINGTON thought he was 'gone' when Shane Edwards tackled him late in North Melbourne's elimination final win over Richmond.

The North midfielder remembers the key moment from Sunday's game vividly.

It happened at the 19-minute mark of the final term with North just five points up and the ball 20m from the Tigers' goal.

After taking a quick handball from teammate Sam Gibson, Cunnington knew he had to get the ball to boot quickly, but just as he was about to Edwards pinned him in a textbook tackle.

As he fell to ground and the ball fell from his arms, Cunnington thought he had cost his team an almost certain goal – and the lead.

"I remember getting the handball receive and I remember a few boys yelling out, 'You're hot'. I just tried to get it on to my boot and kick it as quickly as I could," Cunnington told AFL.com.au.

"But the player came across quickly enough that he was tackling me and I thought I was gone once I went to ground.

"You get off the ground a bit slowly but the ball played on, so I was a bit relieved because it definitely would have been a shot on goal.

"That's footy. Some go your way and some don't."

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick later described the umpires' decision not to penalise Cunnington for holding the ball as 'diabolical'.

AFL umpires head Hayden Kennedy admitted on Tuesday that the call was incorrect.

It certainly proved a pivotal moment in the game, with Roo Jamie Macmillan pouncing on the ball after it fell from Cunnington's hands and clearing it from the defensive 50.

About a minute later, Lindsay Thomas snapped a goal to extend the Roos' lead to 11 points and from there they were never headed.

North's 17-point win was built on far more than one piece of luck, however, with the Roos' midfield's ability to gain the ascendancy around the stoppages after a slow start crucial.

The Roos eventually won the clearances 42-35, with Cunnington typically playing his part despite not touching the ball until late in the first term.

The 2014 best and fairest winner finished with an equal team-high seven clearances and, as much as anyone, helped turn the final with his clean inside work in the Roos' dominant third quarter.

"I was a bit quiet early but I got my work rate up and got to a few more stoppages and contests after that, so I started to work my way into the game a bit better, which was pleasing," Cunnington said.

"I felt 'Goldy' (Todd Goldstein) got his hand to the ball (at ruck contests) a bit more as the game went on.

"To Richmond's credit, they were really picking and sharking our hit-outs early so we tried to keep mixing up our hits and in the end I think we just got on top.

"It was a credit to the whole midfield group."

Meanwhile, North's squad completed a light running session on Tuesday afternoon as it continued its recovery from Sunday's elimination final.

Macmillan (ankle) did not take part in the session but North is extremely confident he will be fit to take on the Sydney Swans in Saturday night's first semi-final.

Daniel Wells trained away from North's main group, working one-on-one with the club's high-performance director Steve Saunders as he continued his bid for an unlikely senior return.