Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Friday May 31, 7.50pm AEST
Last time they met: Marvel Stadium, round 8, 2018: North Melbourne 11.6 (72) lost to Richmond 12.10 (82)
Ben Cunnington’s AFL-record 32 contested possessions almost inspired the Roos to an unlikely victory over the Tigers. Richmond led by 26 points nearing half-time, but an upset was on the cards when North Melbourne hit the lead barely two minutes into the final term. Trent Cotchin was brilliant for the winners, amassing 37 touches in the midfield.
What it means for North Melbourne: The Kangaroos’ first match of the post-Brad Scott era has the potential to be a letdown after the emotional events of the past week. However, they will be keen to give caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw a winning start and put the drama behind them.
What it means for Richmond: It might not even be the halfway point of the season, but there is a competitive race going for a top-four spot and the Tigers will be keen to bank another win, knowing how valuable they will be down the track.
How North Melbourne wins: Winning the ruck battle is a non-negotiable, with Todd Goldstein – fresh from almost 60 hitouts a week ago – holding a significant experience edge over Ivan Soldo. Giving his foot soldiers the first look at the Sherrin is the first link in the midfield chain.
How Richmond wins: Barring the round seven loss to the Western Bulldogs, the Tigers have been exemplary in defying a lengthy injury list with major names on it. The success to date has depended on contributions from lesser lights, and more of the same is required.
The stat: Richmond has won its past two encounters with the Roos after losing seven of the previous eight clashes.
The match-up: Robbie Tarrant v Tom Lynch
The Tigers say power forward Lynch (No.271 in the AFL Player Ratings) will be fit to face North Melbourne despite his corked calf, but he won’t have an easy time of it against Tarrant (No.239). Tarrant, at his best, has the ability to hurt the former Sun the other way, too, if Lynch’s movement is hampered whatsoever.
It’s a big week for: Rhyce Shaw
Who else? This section is normally reserved for players, but Shaw is in the spotlight this week as his senior coaching career, albeit as a caretaker, makes a sooner-than-expected start. The dual AFL Coaches’ Association Assistant of the Year has aspirations to officially win a senior coach job at some stage and his audition begins now.
Big call: Sydney Stack does something, anything – a high mark, brutal hip and shoulder or spectacular goal, for instance – to have us all raving about his football story.
Mottsy’s Tip: Tigers by 5 points
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