AFL Round 14 – North Melbourne v GWS Giants: Defence leads the way

Following the last week’s painful match where North Melbourne lost convincingly to Fremantle, kicking the second lowest score of the season, and our disappointing season as a whole, this game against Greater Western Sydney had some fans on the edge. The media and pundits had North winning by 80-plus points, I wasn’t so sure, I just wanted them to get back on the winner’s list. One thing was certain, Brent Harvey wasn’t going to get as tough a tag as he did last week against the pest tagger Ryan Crowley, who was able to bump (and pinch) Brent Harvey all day without much support from Boomer’s team mates.

Brad Scott listened to members and supporters by dropping Liam Anthony and Sam Wright, but kept Michael Firrito and Leigh Adams in the side. Seeing Jack Zieball’s name back on the list also gave a lot of confidence to the fans and his fellow midfielders.

The game kicked off and started as most North Melbourne games have done this year: with North Melbourne having a ripper of a first quarter. Despite Jonathan Giles winning the majority of hit outs, our rovers picked where the ball was heading and got the clearances. The ball came into the forward line constantly with the forwards making the most of it. Petrie and Thomas booted three goals each and Tarrant slotted through one. Black played a sacrificial role by being a decoy and creating space for the other’s to run into.

Greater Western Sydney sent extra players in their backline to stem the flow of goals and it resulted in them winning the second quarter. Boomer made the most of his freedom and kicked a couple of goals, including one with a nice dummy.

The second half was largely a forgettable experience with the Greater Western Sydney flooding in full effect with numerous two on ones. North Melbourne had to be patient in attack and was largely successful with more goals to Petrie and Thomas. GWS only scored a goal as a result of a North mistake, demonstrating how restrictive the Kangas defence was.

The best aspect of this game was the defensive efforts of North Melbourne. Scott Thompson was dominant and amassed 28 disposals while Nathan Grima was solid as usual and Shaun Atley provided his run off the half back line. The standout player however was the much maligned Lachie Hansen. The versatile key position player has had a massive impact this year in his defensive role and given the other defenders a lot of confidence. Hansen’s spare man role in the game allowed him to intercept many opposition marks and he was confident in his disposal by kicking or handballing forward most of the time, rather than kicking backwards like North Melbourne are very prone to. Some supporters still rip into him and blame him for every loss, but Hansen is becoming the player we want him to be, with the confidence to fortify our defence or go forward and kick a couple of goals.

Ultimately, the game was a little dull and it felt like North Melbourne were in a training session most of the time. But the defensive effort of the whole team was very impressive and showed renewed belief in their system. The fact North Melbourne kicked 19 goals was good without being great, but a big win and a good performance will hopefully give North Melbourne the confidence to keep playing well and get more wins on the board; particularly against top 8 sides like Richmond next week.


North Melbourne    8.3   12.6   15.10   19.16   (130)

Greater Western Sydney    1.3   5.3   6.6   6.8   (44)



North Melbourne: Petrie 5, Thomas 4, Harvey 3, Tarrant, Adams, Mullett, Bastinac, Goldstein, Zieball, Macmillian

Greater Western Sydney: O’hAilpin 2, Corr, Sumner, Reid, Hoskin-Elliot.



North Melbourne: Hansen, Petrie, Thompson, Thomas, Bastinac, Harvey, Gibson, Swallow.

Greater Western Sydney: Treloar, Corr, Scully, O’hAilpin



15,438 at Etihad Stadium


About Matthew Naqvi

Matthew Naqvi is a writer, editor, and writing group facilitator. He is the Web Editor of The Footy Almanac. He has written for numerous sports organisations and teams including Melbourne Victory, AFC (Australian Fighting Championship) and Football Federation Victoria. He loves North Melbourne.


  1. Good stuff, but Lindsay, why? If only you had ran at him, kept your feet on the ground, and hit him squarely and broken his jaw, you’d have been fine. But head butting, no sir , we can’t have that. Two weeks my good man. Thank you, that is all.

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    Yeah, Lindsay, what the…? So disappointing.

    Has an 87 point win ever shown so little about a team.

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