Round 1 – North Melbourne v Adelaide: He’s Still Got It

The middle leg of the Easter triple header was the hardest game of the weekend for me to pick. Despite finishing in the final 4 last year (even though half of the team would have long been too old for college basketball……OK, wrong sport) there has usually been lingering doubt over North Melbourne. Was last year a fluke? Can the old bodies hold together for another season? Saturday night would not have definitively answered those questions but it may have at least provided a clue to their long term forecast.

The crowd it has to be said from the outset was disappointing. Of all opening weekend fixtures only the Gold Coast game attracted fewer spectators, and more worryingly for North there would have been a few thousand crow fans travelling across the border (Swish can confirm this). Some may use the long weekend as an excuse, but if other so called smaller clubs like Melbourne and the Bulldogs can draw bigger crowds against interstate opponents whose fan bases are either minuscule or don’t normally travel in big numbers, then perhaps they could get the shunt to Tasmania long term which the AFL want. Maybe this is the rocket needed for North fans to show up to games.

Maybe it was the opening round blues that saw the lack of a crowd. The last time the Roos had won an opening round game was when the middle 2 digits in the year were 0, there were only 16 teams, the Prime Minister was still Kevin Michael Rudd, and Brent Harvey was just about to turn 31. There were more than a handful of survivors from that last win, with Petrie, Firrito, Ziebell, Thomas, Wells, Thompson and Swallow all taking the field in the 2009 win as well as Saturday night.

Despite the Crows seemingly controlling but not dominating the first half, North stayed in touch with the odd goal to keep the margin manageable. It needed to be given Josh Jenkins was using the height and strength advantages he had over Firrito to great effect. When he kicked his 5th major to take the clubhouse lead in the Coleman Medal race midway through the 3rd, the margin was 19 and North needed something to bridge the gap.

Enter a crucial umpiring decision which saw what should have been a 50m penalty to the Crows become a reversal thanks to a stray elbow…and some old bloke who had played a few games before. Of the trifecta of goals he kicked in the third quarter, Harvey’s second goal when he kicked truly from 45 on the boundary showed us that there was still life yet in the old man of the competition. The third came little more than a minute later, too quickly for the PA men who had accompanied his previous 2 goals with a sample of POD’s Boom.

With the momentum seemingly on their side despite a deficit of a solitary point at the last change it was time for a big man to step up. Todd Goldstein had basically fought a draw with Sam Jacobs up to that point, with neither really standing out around the ground. It was only in the last quarter when the North big man stamped his authority on the game taking a couple of telling marks and kicking the first of the quarter to give North a lead which they wouldn’t lose sole possession of. With a little help from what would be Ben Cunnington’s best game at this level and the inability for the Crows to convert chances late, the curse was busted and finally North fans could celebrate being in the win column after the opening weekend’s activities.

Adelaide fans shouldn’t despair at the result, they will still be around the mark this season despite a high profile defection in the off season. The midfield worked as a unit to cover his loss, the forward line still looked as dangerous as ever even though captain Walker was probably beaten by Robbie Tarrant (message to Tex, channelling Liam Jones and taking back position in marking contests gets you into the reserves) and they will win their share of games on the road. Plus backing them with 15.5 start got the punting weekend off to a good start (gamble responsibly). It just wasn’t their night in the finish as age didn’t weary the North Old Boys.

 

MATCH DETAILS

NORTH MELBOURNE 16.11.107
ADELAIDE 14.13.97

SCORERS
NORTH: Waite 3.1, Harvey 3.0, Petrie 2.1, Brown 2.0, Garner 2.0, Thomas 1.2, Dal Santo 1.1, Goldstein 1.0, Higgins 1.0, Cunnington 0.1, McDonald 0.1, Tarrant 0.1, RUSHED 0.3
ADEL: Jenkins 5.0, Walker 2.3, Betts 1.3, M.Crouch 1.0, Douglas 1.0, Jacobs 1.0, Lynch 1.0, Mackay 1.0, Seedsman 1.0, McGovern 0.3, Milera 0.1, Sloane 0.1, Thompson 0.1, RUSHED 0.1

BEST
NORTH: Cunnington, Wells, Tarrant, Waite, Ziebell, Goldstein
ADEL: Jenkins, M.Crouch, Laird, Thompson, Smith, B.Crouch

VOTES
3: Ben CUNNINGTON (North)
2: Josh JENKINS (Adel)
1: Robbie TARRANT (North)

OFFICIALS
FIELD: Nick FOOT, Luke FARMER, Brett ROSEBURY (EM: Nick BROWN)
BOUNDARY: Gerard LARGE, Jordan ANDREWS, Dillon TEE, Chris ESLER
GOAL: Michael CRAIG, David DIXON

CROWD: 25485

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The crowd did get a bit larger in the 20 minutes before the game Mick, I thought it was on track for about 18,000 when you first tweeted. My guess was that 25% of the crowd were in tri-colours.

    You were spot on about that turning point, but a bit more subtlety was required than the elbow to the throat.

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