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Shot clock in spotlight after North's timeless veterans prevail

Football

All North Melbourne needed from Mason Wood at the end of their AFL game was that he did precisely nothing.

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The anti-climactic finish to their otherwise-thrilling seven-point win over St Kilda yesterday shone an uncomfortable light on the shot clock that the AFL brought in for this season.

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson admitted to mixed emotions about the finish after North held on to win 11.16 (82) to 11.9 (75).

With less than a minute left, North led by one point when Wood won a free kick and a shot on goal for his tackle on Jack Newnes.

This season the AFL introduced the 30-second clock on the scoreboard so everyone knew how long a player had for a set shot at goal.

Once the North runner told Wood there were only 22 seconds left until the final siren, he simply stood and watched the seconds tick down.

As Saints fans howled their disapproval, he then kicked an impressive goal from a tight angle on the final siren.

“Was it a good look? I’m not sure, don’t know,” Richardson said.

“But given the rules and given the circumstances, I thought he [Wood] did a really good job.

“It was very well done, given they’re the rules.

“If that had been one of our players, I would have thought ‘gee, great composure young man’.”

Richardson also admitted there was much frustration in the Saints coaches’ box, calling it the longest 30 seconds they have been through.

Saints fans were already fuming after a controversial free kick two minutes earlier.

The free against Tom Hickey for a ruck infringement meant Todd Goldstein could have a 50m shot at goal.

It went wide, but crucially the behind put the Kangaroos in front.

North Melbourne had led by a game-high 26 points early in the last quarter and the match looked over.

But the Saints had a four-goal run that almost allowed them to snatch an improbable win.

Instead, the Kangaroos remain the only unbeaten team after seven rounds.

“We did what we had to do today,” North coach Brad Scott said.

Midfielders Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington again starred for North, while their tagger Ben Jacobs shut out Jack Steven.

But evergreen Saints captain Nick Riewoldt welcomed Kangaroos veteran Drew Petrie to the AFL’s 300 club by nearly ruining his occasion.

Riewoldt was again outstanding for St Kilda, with the captain taking 16 marks and kicking three goals.

His third major sparked the four-goal surge in the last quarter that tied the scores.

At 33, Riewoldt shows no signs of slowing down and he is on the verge of confirming he will keep playing next season.

He is in a growing group of players, including Petrie, that is proving AFL life can continue beyond 30.

“He’s in good form, isn’t he?,” said Richardson.

“There’s a bit of a trend across the competition of guys – they have a team full of them – who are at that age and still playing strong footy.

“I reckon the way that the clubs and their sports science departments are looking after those players, it should be no surprise.”

Riewoldt was limping late in the last quarter, but Richardson expects him to play next Sunday in Perth against West Coast.

Petrie had a quiet milestone match, but kicked North’s first goal and finished with two.

Probably his bigger impact on the game was that the Kangaroos were determined his 300th would end with a win.

Coach Brad Scott noted that Daniel Wells was determined to go back on the ground late in the game, despite a leg injury.

Wells then laid two crucial smothers to help ensure they held off the Saints.

“Wellsy just willed himself to get back on … that just shows what they think of Drew,” Scott said.

The North coach also said the Saints deserved credit for allowing the Kangaroos to properly mark Petrie’s milestone, despite it being a St Kilda home game.

-AAP

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