RICHMOND has kept its faint finals hopes alive, producing a seven-goal third term to defeat North Melbourne by 33 points at the MCG.
The Roos were outstanding in the first half, but didn't take advantage of their 20-point lead at half-time, fading as the Tigers flicked the switch in the 13.11 (89) to 8.8 (56) result.
TIGERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
As cliched as it sounds, it really was a game of two halves; North Melbourne dominated with uncontested marks in the opening two quarters, while Richmond turned the game on its head after the main break, bringing its tackle pressure to the fore.
The developing Roos have been in much better form than the Tigers in the past month, and it showed from the opening bounce, while the home side reflected the general lethargy settled over a city in its sixth lockdown.
North Melbourne's defence – led by Ben McKay, Robbie Tarrant and a dashing Aaron Hall breaking lines through the middle – was outstanding in the first half, but struggled to move the ball as fluidly through the centre corridor after the main break.
In a battle of the returning players, Cam Zurhaar kept Nick Vlastuin well occupied early, the bustling Roo capitalising on some slick ball movement by booting three before the long break and adding another in the second half.
The Tigers conceded 72 uncontested marks in the first two quarters, but tightened up considerably as the game progressed, creating a contested game and producing that deadly forward-half pressure which has deserted them this year.
Jack Graham (36 disposals) was crucial in keeping Richmond in the game in the first half, as was Trent Cotchin (23 and four clearances), while ruckman Toby Nankervis' tackle pressure lifted the Tigers after half-time.
Jy Simpkin (34 and five clearances) used the ball beautifully going inside 50, while Tarryn Thomas (22 and eight marks) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (38 and five clearances) were constant threats in the midfield.
Returning players add some much-needed Tiger balm
Richmond has been one of several sides badly hit by injury this year, but the tide is beginning to shift. Vlastuin returned after a month with knee and quad issues, and his intercept marking was key to the win, and while they've now got a few games under their belt, Shane Edwards and Dion Prestia's normal polish began to return as the game progressed.
North Melbourne's centre clearance dominance continues
Promisingly for the Roos, one of their biggest strengths was in the middle, as it has been for the past few weeks. With talismanic midfield bull Ben Cunnington sidelined due to a tumour, Jy Simpkin, Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jed Anderson continued their fine clearance form, working well with Todd Goldstein. They won the centre clearances 14-7 and overall clearances 32-20.
Maurice Rioli jnr's time to shine
A bright spot for the Tigers was the zip and dash shown by debutant Maurice Rioli jnr. A father-son product taken with pick No.51 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, Rioli shot through the ranks this year, impressing with his dedication and desire to improve. With his father Maurice's number taken by Daniel Rioli, the small forward wears the 49 his dad wore at South Fremantle.
RICHMOND 0.3 2.4 9.6 13.11 (89)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.4 5.6 7.8 8.8 (56)
Richmond: Edwards 2, Coleman-Jones 2, Riewoldt 2, Baker 2, Bolton, Rioli jnr, Parker, Ralphsmith, Prestia
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 4, Larkey, Scott, Taylor, Mahony
Richmond: Graham, Prestia, Cotchin, Baker, Nankervis, Vlastuin
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke, Zurhaar, Hall, Anderson
North Melbourne: Nil
Richmond: Kamdyn McIntosh (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Thomson Dow
North Melbourne: Nil
Richmond: Castagna (unused)
North Melbourne: Phillips (unused)