Their intent, physicality and general body language from the opening salvos all pointed to the reigning premiers being switched on after grinding to a halt in last Sunday’s slugfest with Sydney.
Richmond had 18 inside 50 entries to North Melbourne’s one in the first quarter as they raced to a 4.3 (27) to nil buffer at the first break. The Kangaroos had nine more possessions than Richmond, who made the most of every touch with an 86 per cent disposal efficiency.
It was just the second time in 45 years that the Tigers had kept a side scoreless in the opening term and the first time since 2004, ensuring a career-first clean sheet for senior coach Damien Hardwick.
In an incredibly even team performance, the Tigers had many contributors but few absolute standouts with the likes of Derek Eggmolesse-Smith, Shai Bolton, Jack Higgins, Dylan Grimes and Dustin Martin all chipping in.
Shaun Higgins had 36 touches for North who were well served by precious few other than Trent Dumont (25) and Josh Walker (14).
Richmond took eight inside 50 entries to register their first goal of the night through grand final fairytale story Marlion Pickett. Martin was awarded a technical 50-metre penalty to hand the Tigers their second major and a strong mark and calm set-shot from ruckman Mabior Choi saw them cash-in further.
Stand-in captain Jack Riewoldt completed the first term rout after clever build-up work from fellow spearhead Tom Lynch.
Unlike last week against the Swans, when they kicked three goals early and added just one for the rest of the game, Richmond were able to maintain some sort of momentum to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
They led by 26 points at the main break after the Kangaroos finally kicked their first goal of the match through Dumont with just three minutes left in the second quarter, before Walker added to North Melbourne’s meagre tally that eventually surpassed their lowest-ever total of 1.8 (14) against Geelong last season.
The Tigers should have been further in front after being wasteful and wayward in front of goal but did kick truly through Jason Castagna and Lynch to extend their advantage to 41-2.
It was not all plain sailing for the Tigers with defender Grimes going on report for high contact with Mason Wood in the second term, while Josh Caddy suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter.
Kyron Hayden added to North Melbourne’s bulging injury list when he was taken from the field on a stretcher in the third quarter after colliding with Lynch’s elbow in a marking contest.
Richmond enjoyed a 43-point cushion at the last change. The first career goal for Jake Aarts – after three misses earlier in the night – was the highlight for the Tigers in the final term.
Richmond roar back to life
The Swans poked the Tigers last week and the Kangaroos paid the price. Richmond looked they had a point to prove after the snore-fest of last Sunday and put North Melbourne to the sword swiftly. They have numerous gears to go up – and several stars to welcome back – too. Beware.
School of hard knocks
North Melbourne have a bigger casualty ward than an episode of “MASH”. Ziebell (hamstring) and Hayden (head knock) were lost during the game, and Zurhaar (calf) before the first bounce. Ben Cunnington (back), Tarryn Thomas (ankle) and Jed Anderson (quad) were already sidelined. Trouble.
Roos should persist with Walker as a forward
It was a dirty old night for the Shinboners but the endeavour and aerial prowess from new recruit Walker was a pinch of positivity. After stints at Geelong and Brisbane, the key position swing-man took a game-high five grabs by half-time and worked hard to earn three shots at goal by the main break. He had eight marks by full-time. They should persist with him as a forward – not a defender.
Richmond: Eggmolesse-Smith, Bolton, Higgins, Grimes, Martin, Short
North Melbourne: Higgins, Dumont, Walker, Hall