THERE have been no real concerns about Richmond so far in 2018, only some question marks. One of those was how the reigning premiers shape up away from their beloved MCG, where they have won 13 straight games.
And lingering doubts remain after a 10-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The victory didn't come without a huge scare for the Tigers (7-1), who after leading by 20 points at half-time, had to withstand a furious challenge from the Kangas (4-4), who momentarily hit the front in the final term.
It was a highly entertaining affair and the Kangaroos showed great effort and pluck in front of a healthy Mother's Day crowd of 29,113.
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But as has been the case apart from the round two blemish against Adelaide, the Tigers absorbed the best their opponent could throw at them and got the game back on their terms to win 12.10 (82) to 11.6 (72).
They remain on top of the ladder ahead of West Coast on percentage, but it does set up a tantalising clash with the Eagles in Perth next Sunday.
WATCH: Cotchin kicks the sealer
The Tigers will be well pleased to get away with this one. North had the last nine inside 50s of the match but couldn't get the goal to really put the frighteners up the Tigers.
Erstwhile dead-eye spearhead Ben Brown missed two set shots from inside 50 with the game still on the line.
It summed up the match. North Melbourne came hard all afternoon but lacked that bit of polish and class under pressure.
The home team did have the clear best player on the ground in midfielder Ben Cunnington, who had an all-time AFL record 32 contested possessions and 38 disposals overall.
WATCH: McDonald goes in the book
Richmond countered with skipper Trent Cotchin, who had 37 touches (22 contested) and was terrific in the clinches all day. He needed to be, because North stopper Ben Jacobs put the clamps on Dustin Martin, who had just 16 touches.
Martin was frustrated at times, but still played his role and when moved to the forward line in the last term he had a hand in goals to Cotchin, Dan Butler and Josh Caddy that helped wrest the ascendancy back Richmond's way.
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Nick Vlastuin (12 marks) and Alex Rance were outstanding for the Tigers in defence, while Caddy (four goals) and Kane Lambert (three) were also great contributors.
Tiger coach Damien Hardwick was satisfied that his men again found something when challenged.
"When we were called upon at three-quarter time to rise to the challenge I thought our boys did really well. North came pretty hard in that third quarter and got some scoreboard ascendancy and got their nose in front at one stage as well," he said.
"Credit where credit's due, we challenged our boys once again and they lifted and got the result our way."
Jed Anderson (28 disposals) and Luke McDonald (24) were prolific for North Melbourne, which will be disappointed not to have claimed the four points, but based on what was served up on Sunday, the Kangaroos are vastly improved on last season and would have lost no friends.
North coach Brad Scott felt mixed emotions: "We're disappointed we didn't get the result, but we didn't lose any self-belief at the same time.
"In a game like that, which is frenetic and with a lot of pressure, we would have liked to have a bit more polish, but the majority of footy is giving yourself a chance to win and we did that."
WATCH: Kangaroo on the run
North Melbourne: Jarrad Waite left the ground late in the game with a corked thigh and was unable to return.
Richmond: Jason Castagna suffered a knock to the knee, but was walking freely in the rooms afterwards.
A six-day turnaround for North Melbourne and a quick trip to Hobart to host Greater Western Sydney at Blundstone Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers also get on a plane, traveling to a likely sold-out Optus Stadium for the top-of-the-table clash with West Coast in seven days' time.
More to come
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.0 5.2 9.3 11.6 (72)
RICHMOND 3.4 8.4 9.7 12.10 (82)
North Melbourne: Atley 2, Wood 2, Brown 2, Waite 2, Simpkin, Higgins, Macmillan
Richmond: Caddy 4, Lambert 3, Riewoldt 2, Castagna, Cotchin, Butler
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Jacobs, Anderson, Higgins, Macmillan, McDonald
Richmond: Cotchin, Caddy, Houli, Vlastuin, Lambert, Lloyd
North Melbourne: Nil
Reports: Luke McDonald (North Melbourne) reported for making high contact with Richmond's Kane Lambert in the first quarter
Umpires: Deboy, Hosking, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 29,153 at Etihad Stadium