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Richmond have given club greats Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin a winning second-off, overcoming North Melbourne at the MCG by 29 points.
While neither Riewoldt nor Cotchin played starring roles in their 292nd match together, teammates Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton were among the stars to make sure the Tigers sent their champions into retirement with a win.
Trent Cotchin played his final game on Saturday.Credit: Getty Images
Eight minutes into the match, Martin passed the ball to Riewoldt to give him a chance to put an early highlight on the board, but a couple of minutes after Riewoldt shanked the set shot, Martin took it upon himself to kick the first goal of the day and get the team rolling.
Martin had an equal team-high 12 disposals in the opening term, but the Roos kicked the first three goals of the second quarter – in Jack Ziebell’s final game for the club – to turn a five-point quarter-time deficit into a 14-point lead.
But the Tigers clicked into gear midway through the second quarter, booting seven of the next eight goals, including two to Bolton, a second to Martin, and one for Riewoldt.
An emotional Jack Riewoldt celebrates a Noah Balta goal.Credit: Getty Images
It wasn’t a vintage moment from the power forward, but it was a highlight nonetheless, pouncing on a loose ball at the top of the goal square and rushing to get it onto his left foot before he was tackled by Ben McKay.
The ball barely hit his boot, but it trickled over the goal line to give Riewoldt his 787 career major.
Cotchin had arguably the first scoring chance of the day, but didn’t take the set shot from 50 metres out, electing to pass it off short.
Jack Ziebell takes a hanger in his final game for North Melbourne.Credit: AFL Photos
The three-time premiership skipper had 11 disposals, seven contested possessions and four clearances in the first half and finished with 18 touches, enjoying the applause of the Richmond faithful each time he got it in the last quarter.
Martin kicked his third in the third quarter, and then passed one off to Cotchin to give him a shot at goal, but he wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunity.
Cotchin set Noah Balta up for the sealer early in the last, and then came to the bench to a standing ovation, while Riewoldt had three shots at goal late in the final term, but couldn’t slot any of them, despite having 90 per cent of the crowd in his corner.
Ziebell was thrown forward late, and had a difficult set shot of his own in the dying minutes, but was also unable to capitalise.
If North Melbourne fans are looking for some silver linings going into 2024, Nick Larkey and Tarryn Thomas have again showed they’ve got a touch of class.
Thomas streamed out of the centre bounce to start the second quarter, but put the kick inside 50 over Larkey’s head.
The key forward wasn’t impressed, letting Thomas know the kick had to go short to his advantage.
But just moments later, after Thomas won a free kick for holding the ball, he put his next kick inside-50 to the hot spot, setting up Larkey for his second goal of the day.
Larkey finished with a bag of six, taking his season tally to 62 and giving All-Australian selectors something to think about, while Thomas kicked 2.2 and had four clearances, all from centre bounces.
With 292 games together in the same team, Riewoldt and Cotchin hold the record for the most games played together by Richmond teammates.
They beat the previous Tigers record of 289, set by Kevin Bartlett and Francis Bourke, just a few weeks ago.
But they ultimately finish 15 games shy of the AFL record set by Adelaide greats Andrew McLeod and Tyson Edwards.
Only Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood have been passed the 300-game barrier in recent years, finishing on 305 in last year’s grand final.
Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom played their 282nd game together on Friday night.
RICHMOND 3.2 10.5 11.10 14.17 (101)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 6.7 10.7 10.12 (72)
GOALS – Richmond: Bolton 4, Martin 3, Balta 2, Soldo 2, Prestia, Riewoldt, Nankervis.
North Melbourne: Larkey 6, Thomas 2, Curtis, Taylor.
BEST – Richmond: Martin, Bolton, Hopper, Nankervis, Cotchin, Soldo.
North Melbourne: Larkey, Thomas, Sheezel, Scott.
UMPIRES – Nicholls, Rebeschini, Rodger, McGinness
CROWD – 59,555 at MCG.
Dustin Martin (Richmond) 9
Shai Bolton (Richmond) 8
Nick Larkey (North Melbourne) 8
Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne) 7
Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne) 6
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