Richmond youngster Noah Cumberland has been left shattered after his decision to play on after taking a mark which would’ve given him a shot on goal to win the game.
Cumberland’s decision to play on was followed immediately by the final siren, with Richmond and Fremantle locked on 7. 10. (52) in front of a stunned Marvel Stadium crowd.
The play came after a last-gasp foray forward, when Marlion Pickett managed to free himself from congestion in the middle of the ground with three seconds left, finding Cumberland on the lead.
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The 21-year-old, who is a booming left-foot kick, took the mark right on the 50-metre arc, but attempted to swing around and play on and was beaten to his kick by the siren.
Cumberland sunk to his knees after the siren, covering his face as he was embraced by his teammates as well as a number of Fremantle players.
Following the match, former Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin defended his young teammate for playing on.
“We didn’t know exactly how long, and the clock can churn away pretty quickly,” he told Fox Footy.
“Obviously, we would’ve loved for (Cumberland) to go back and have the shot, but we back our guys to make the right decisions at the right time.
“We’ll learn another lesson, which is completely fine, it’s what we play footy for. We’ve got some youth in the team, which we love, and we’re really excited about what they’re bringing to the table every weekend.”
Cotchin’s stance was mirrored by Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, who said he remained encouraged by his side’s play despite failing to win another nail-biter.
“The last 60 seconds you can look at individually, but the reality is Noah gave himself a chance to win the game. The clock expired, but he put himself in the right position, and like last week we’ll learn from it,” he said.
“It’s a challenging one to set up. We had ample opportunities. We had two shots effectively to try and win the game and got zero points from them.
“We went through it and he’s disappointed like any kid would be, but the fact of the matter is it’s a part of the whole equation.”
The second shot on goal Hardwick mentioned came minutes earlier, when another Noah, this time Balta, had a chance to put the Tigers ahead.
Balta had a set shot from approximately 40 meters out on a slight angle, but had his kick smothered by Fremantle’s Michael Frederick, who charged at Balta after the umpire called play on due to the Tiger taking too long.
“I didn’t (hear the umpire), I just saw a couple of Freo boys just running at me,” Balta told Richmond great Matthew Richardson on Seven’s coverage after the match.
“I heard Jack Riewoldt tell me, ‘Take your 30 (seconds)’, and then I see players run at me and I go well I guess it’s play on, isn’t it?
“Unfortunately, what do you do? That’s the game of footy, it’s why we love the game, we like to play in close games like this. Unlucky it’s a draw, but who cares.”
Cotchin offered a little less sympathy towards Balta, who is somewhat of a veteran with 57 career games when compared to the fourth-gamer Cumberland.
“You’d hope that he’s aware of the countdown clock, it has been in the game for a little while,” the ex-skipper said.
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“I suppose that’s the challenge when you’re so far back as well in a run-up, you probably take a little bit longer to get set and kick away.
“It’ll be something that we review as well and I’m sure he’ll go away and work out exactly what he needs to do in his set-up routine.”
Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown also offered his sympathy towards Cumberland, suggesting that the atmosphere inside the stadium may have played a part in the manic ending.
“The problem is, just at Marvel Stadium, even if there’s only say 25,000 people in there, when the crowd gets loud you can’t hear each other out there. It feels like 80,000 at the MCG,” he told Fox Footy.
“Obviously the inexperience hurt him, you feel sorry for the young fella.”
The two shared points could have massive final implications for both teams, with just eight point separating the first-placed Cats and seventh-placed Blues.
Fremantle remains third with 50 points, but could be passed by both Brisbane and Collingwood if they win their respective matches this weekend.
The draw leaves Richmond also in jeopardy of ending the round outside the top eight, with the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda able to pass the Tigers with round 19 wins.
A missed opportunity to secure a win wasn’t the only source of frustration for Fremantle, with skipper Nat Fyfe subbed out of the game in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Fyfe appeared to be bothered by his hamstring in the first half, but returned to the field after the main break before pulling up lame near the boundary in the opening minutes of the third term.
He ended the game with his left hamstring iced up, and will no doubt face a race against time if he is to take the field in any of the remaining home and away matches.
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