North Melbourne v Richmond, St Kilda and 2017 Part Two


What started out as a promising season of football for North Melbourne has slightly derailed in recent weeks.


No one knew that to expect from the baby Joeys lining up in 2017, however they quickly made a name for themselves as an honest, hardworking side who were playing an exciting brand of footy. Tackling at every opportunity, multiple avenues to goal – everything was going right for the Roos except for the results.


But as weeks went on and wins started coming the Roos way, rather than gaining more momentum and putting pressure on the top eight, North have quickly stopped in their tracks and reverted to an unattractive and rather poor style of football.


Exhibit A: Richmond.

Despite a very even first half, it always felt like North were playing catch up and were never quite on the same level as Richmond. That was proven true, as five goals in the opening 10 minutes of the third quarter saw Richmond flex their muscles and eventually embarrass North by 7 goals. Like so many before, it was a game of two halves. A competitive, hungry North in the first half went to sleep at the main break.


To sum up part one of 2017: frustrating. And a tired North outfit and drained supporter base really embraced the week off.


The bye couldn’t have come sooner for North fans, who had experienced a lifetime of emotions in the space of 12 weeks. While the first half of 2017 had been a lot to process, overall there was a pretty positive feeling around the club. Everyone could see that we were on the right track, we were going somewhere but most importantly we weren’t the ‘down and out’ side many had predicted.


While the loss to Richmond felt uncharacteristic and rather unusual in comparison to standards we’d set ourselves in the weeks before, we had the bye to rest up and return better than ever… but it was not to be.


I didn’t think it could get worse than the lost to Richmond, but I was quickly proved wrong.



The performance against St Kilda was a horror film unravelling in front of our eyes and the game was over by the first break. St Kilda were enormous; they had pace to burn and space to use and their disposal into the forward 50 was gold class. I don’t think Leigh Montagna had an opponent all night and Jack Billings made a mockery of North’s defense. St Kilda’s accuracy early on allowed them to intimidate the Roos and they deserved the win.


But football is a strange game and despite North’s ability to turn over majority of the ball and butcher entries into the attacking half, the final margin was only 17 points. It flattered the Roos and they were probably lucky St Kilda finished off the game as inaccurately as they did. The way North played, St Kilda should’ve won the game by 10 goals and for a side with such a poor percentage St Kilda needed to take the opportunity they had to strengthen it.


Ultimately, in a season where North’s form was a complete guessing game, I still think we’re travelling okay. Excluding games against Sydney and St Kilda, North have been able to match it with some of the competition’s best. They’re a young side and are still feeling each other out and figuring out how to play as a team. The wins will come; whether it be in the second half of the season or again in 2018.


There have been plenty of standout games for individuals but there are five players performers who stick out in my mind as the Roos best of the year.


Ben Cunnington has reignited his career leading the midfield in inspiring fashion. He is tough at the ball and gives his all week in and week out. It’s encouraging to seem him back to his best and you know exactly what you’re going to get from him. He’s also in the top clearance players of the AFL – a huge achievement.


Robbie Tarrant has backed up his best and fairest form with another dominant defensive display. Limiting the influence of his direct opponents, he’s once again made a name for himself as one of the game’s best defenders. He’s been joined by former Magpie Marley Williams who has quickly become a crowd favourite. His lightning pace and tackling down names such as Ablett and Martin is a huge addition to the North side and he’s excited supporters around the country.


Give Ben Brown another season or two and he could be one of the most damaging key forwards in the league. While Waite was sidelined early on with injury, Brown thrived in his go-to forward role and his unique kicking style is proving a hit in front of the big sticks.


But my top player for 2017 has to be Luke McDonald. There’s very little than he can do wrong and his ability to be a dangerous force in multiple positions around the ground has been a huge factor. Straying away from his traditional defensive role, 2017 has seen McDonald play higher up the ground and he has been sensational. A tackling machine, a smart user of the football and his signature bomb from outside 50 has all been exciting to watch. 2017 has been his season so far and you can only hope he gets better.


If there’s one thing that infuriates me about North this season is the F word.. FINALS.


Why is this a topic of discussion? The beauty of an even season is that it really is anyone’s to win but I don’t think North is in the position to make a genuine attempt at a top eight finish. While I’m the ultimate North optimist, I don’t think making the finals would define success in 2017 – while fans would love it, and while it would be an unbelievable achievement it’s not my main concern.


My concern is our form and how there are early signs of a 2016 repeat. We were a dominant force at the beginning of last season but that intimidation and winning ability quickly diminished and that’s where this season is heading. The competitive and unsociable North Melbourne that came close to defeating Geelong, the Bulldogs and Freo, that destroyed Adelaide and fought hard to beat Melbourne and Carlton is no where to be seen. Supporters want effort, supporters want heart and if we play brilliant football and leave everything on the field and it still isn’t good enough to take the four points then so be it. But sloppy possession, poor execution, high turnover and inaccuracy in front of goal just won’t cut it.


Luckily, there’s still a season to save. Not to make a late charge to the top 8, but to regain some form and regain some respect. If North are serious about making a play for Kelly or Martin at season’s end then they need to start playing like it. While the offers on the table are large in money, the current on field form isn’t as enticing as a top four finish, which both Richmond and GWS look a chance to secure.


It’s time to get serious now. There has been proof that we can do it time and time again and there’s no point waiting around to prove something. With 10 rounds to go, the time for North Melbourne is now.


Let’s just hope they answer the call and rise of the challenge.




  1. what would scare me was that the Baby Joeys were on average a year older than the Cubs. They made mistakes that you could forgive youth for (including switching off at the break – very Richmond thing to do.)

    Nth had more guys with 100+ games. they cannot afford to sink too low as they are a bit along the way of the rebuild.

  2. I sense some problems there.Better not be Laidley and his team of idiots filling the players’ heads with stupidity. We are better than what has been seen the last two weeks. Need to throw the players around a bit. Give them new roles to play. They should definitely bring in Swallow and Preuss. Put Waite back a little, give Atley a run with job on the ball. He could do it. Make Anderson tag someone. He could do it. Play Garner on the wing, Play Goldstein or Brown or Preuss one out in the square with no licence to move outside the forward 50. They should just try a few things to re-invigorate the team. Even play Macmillan forward for once. Forget about tap work in the middle and instruct the rucks to just punch from ruck duels and see what happens. Try an undersized guy in the ruck , like Waite or Hansen and Goldstein as a permanent intercept mark on the backline. Tarrant forward for a spell.
    Play Higgins as a permanent winger or half forward, not as an on-baller.Try a few things North. I don’t have the answers, but you have to try a few things if they are not working

  3. Hi Marnie,

    I watched Friday night game at a footy pub in Osaka, Japan.

    Your Kangaroos seemed to have less experience on attacking. How much good Boomer Harvey has served in your club. I guess Roos have relied a lot on him but chose to part from him. I was sad to see him go as well as my favourite Dal Santo.

    Your midfield and forward lines need to be developed I sensed from the game.

    Sadly my Saints wasted opportunities to score goals and accurate kicking skills are needed to improve. Jack Billings’ two reviewed goals were painful. And we should have played good footy at the last quarter.



  4. We are going through a little form lapse, that can last three weeks at a minimum, as most teams so far have experienced, but they will come back and will play with zest and spark from now on, I can see it, the players should just bloody well go for it and take on the opposition, and if we get caught and make mistakes, Big Bloody Deal! We can all live with that, but we want our players to take on the game and make it happen.. We just need to take the game on and see where they takes us! Bring on the rest of the season, we should be excited roo fans. There is a hell of a lot of talent in that team waiting to roll out. and a bloody huge score isn’t far away in that team. Go Roos!

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