Fast-finishing Tigers to test North in AFL

Roger Vaughan

Richmond's frightening ability to play better for longer means a stern test of North Melbourne's AFL improvement.

The Kangaroos have been one of the great stories so far this season, with outstanding upset wins over Hawthorn and Sydney.

But in Sunday's clash at Etihad Stadium, they come up against the Tigers and their rampaging last quarters.

In Richmond's last four matches, they have outscored the opposition in the last term by a whopping 32 goals to seven.

"That's what separates the best teams from the ones who are chasing ... the ability to execute for four quarters," said North's backline coach Josh Drummond.

"That's just a credit to Richmond. I'm not sure necessarily if they're playing any better in the last quarter, but they just continually play at a high level."

Richmond's consistent excellence is what North crave.

Drummond notes that in between the Kangaroos' great wins over the Hawks and Swans, they lost to Port Adelaide.

"It gives us a great sighter as to where we're at," Drummond said of playing the AFL's pace setters.

"We've certainly made some strong improvements in certain areas, but what Richmond do - and what we're striving to do - is do it week-in, week-out."

Majak Daw will return for the Kangaroos and he will go into defence.

Daw has been a revelation so far in his new backline role, alongside fellow tall defenders Robbie Tarrant and Scott Thompson.

But given Jack Riewoldt is the Tigers' only tall forward, and their smaller goalsneaks are so dangerous, it will be fascinating to see how the North defenders match up.

North and Richmond boast the best defensive records in the AFL so far this season, but the Tigers by far have the more potent attack.

"If we can maintain pressure on the ball, a taller defence can be really strong because we force them to kick it," Drummond said.

"But if we don't get pressure on the ball, then obviously their quick blokes are going to look pretty quick. It's a fine line.

"Maj is the quickest bloke on our list - he can cover the ground as well as anyone.

"If you're a one-trick pony, you can get found out pretty quick."