AFL Round 2 – St Kilda v Nth Melbourne: Saints get the chocolates as North turn back the clock to the bad old days

By Darren Dawson

Was it the anticipation of Easter eggs to be received the next morning that had me thinking of chocolates as I watched Nick Riewoldt jog to the St. Kilda goal-square? If so, a sudden vision of boiled lollies came to mind as I turned to see David Hale take his position at the opposite end of Etihad Stadium. By quarter-time, I was feeling as nauseous as a man who had gorged himself on said treats.

I did not expect North to win, but prior to the match I had believed that the Kangaroos would be up for a competitive stoush with the Saints. Along with most pundits, I believed it would be an enjoyable contest. Unfortunately it took only the first ten minutes for me to realise that the Roos were in for a long night; and it had nothing to do with turning the clock back an hour for daylight-saving’s end.  The game was effectively over after half an hour.

Rarely have I witnessed such a poor quarter of football from the Kangaroos. There appeared to be no system going forward, no creativity in the midfield, and varying degrees of panic in defence. The Saints had “come to play”, but at times it looked as if they had no-one to play against. St. Kilda routed North, who were left scoreless at the first break. At this point, I was actually convinced that I had more chance of seeing the Easter bunny than of witnessing a North goal.

The afore-mentioned key forwards are a microcosm of where the two teams are at. Riewoldt: a confident, imperious, and commanding key focal point for his team. He has a clear vision of how he wants himself and his team to play the game. Hale: a hesitant, confused and clearly out-of-form figure, too easily pushed off the ball, and constantly playing from behind. He seems destined to be remembered for THAT game at Geelong.

During the second quarter, all interest in the game had dissipated for players and spectators alike. It was only minor, personal statistics that would be of any value now. I thought Lachie Hansen did well on “Roo”, his tactic was obviously to push him up the ground where the damage would hopefully be more limited. The fact that Riewoldt finished with 7, and would probably even admit that it was not one of his better performances, was purely testament to his team’s dominance. Brendan Goddard was everywhere. He has adopted his skipper’s “Run til you spew up” mantra, and is now a huge force to be reckoned with. Other Saints runners such as Dal Santo, Gilbert, Jones and Montagna provided a depth that North could not even hope to match. Koschitzke must have rued the missed opportunity to run himself into some form.

For North, the fact that Hale (3 goals) became their only focal point was an indictment of their structure on the night. Two of the sadder sights for me were Corey Jones (well past his use-by date but surprisingly given fresh hope by coach Brad Scott), and Daniel Wells (who appears destined never to be the player we North supporters thought he may become).

Yes, the Roos are more akin to Joeys, with a youthful list, and some exciting mid-field prospects. But I fear there will be much more pain ahead this season before there is sunlight. For the Saints, it is nothing but blue skies. The pain of last year’s grand final is still raw, and they are playing as if they have a real point to prove.

I left the ground wondering if the Easter bunny would remember to adjust his clock for day-light saving, as North had surely just shown what happens if you arrive even half an hour late.

St Kilda     8.1   11.3   16.4   23.5 (143)
North Melbourne   0.0   2.3   5.3   6.3 (39)

My votes: 3 B. Goddard, 2 N. Riewoldt, 1 S. Gilbert.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

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