North Melbourne, despite resting almost half their AFL team against Richmond on Friday night, gave the Tigers a big fright before succumbing by 41 points at Etihad Stadium.
Brad Scott was widely criticised for leaving out nine first-choice players but his severely depleted Kangaroos held a shock lead early in the third quarter before Richmond finally managed to get their act together to run away with the 16.12 (108) to 10.7 (67) win.
While there were plenty of positives for the inexperienced Roos, they left with injury concerns over Jack Ziebell and Kayne Turner, who both suffered nasty head knocks in the dying minutes of the match.
Perhaps stung by the negative commentary around their controversial selection moves, the Kangaroos were ferocious at the contest early and the Tigers looked flat in comparison.
The first half wasn’t a high quality affair but, while North had a few excuses, with most of their stars sitting in the stands and Brent Harvey starting as the sub, a full-strength Richmond had none.
Majak Daw was one of the nine ‘Roo replacements’ and he provided great energy in the ruck and kicked a goal in each of the first two quarters as Scott’s side went into halftime with a 10-point lead.
The Tigers allowed themselves to be dictated to in the first half, but they moved the ball quickly and more directly after the break.
Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio were the keys as Richmond turned a 16-point deficit a minute into the third quarter into an 11-point lead at three-quarter time.
The Kangaroos kept coming but Richmond finished full of running with a nine-goal final term sealing the win.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick admitted his players were caught napping early but was pleased with the way they fought back in the second half.
“We probably weren’t switched on to the level that we would have liked and they probably had nine guys that came in and were incredibly hungry and looking for a finals position,” Hardwick said.
“We probably got what we deserved in the first half. We were a little bit better, obviously, in the second half to get the game more on our terms.
“I thought we got a bit stronger around the contest. We were fumbly early but the guys managed to rectify that.”
Scott was delighted with the effort he got from his players – particularly those who came into the side and seized their opportunities.
“I thought a lot of our young guys showed genuine intent in the first half – I thought we played pretty well,” Scott said.
“There was obviously an issue sustaining that. We gave up some rookie-mistake goals, which were made by rookies.
“So we’ll keep working on those things with them. But from a team perspective, and a club perspective, it was a good night.”