Round 2 – Brisbane v North Melbourne: Old Stagers

Really, I should be feeling decidedly more chipper than I am about North being 2-0 after two rounds. Take a glance around: Freo are struggling, Port look gone, West Coast were terrible at the G, and who would be a Tigers supporter? The Kangas are one of only four teams with a perfect start to the season, and I am sure that those on the inside at Arden St would be pleased.

But yet, but yet. I have these doubts. The final margin – 34 points – indicates a solid road win, but it does not tell the story of how close North came to being rolled. And believe me, somewhere in the not-too-distant future, there will be a ruthless opponent who makes North pay big-time. The manner in which the Roos both started and finished this game at the Gabba demands it. It was experience more than anything which proved decisive against the spritely Lions.

The match commenced in sweltering 31 degree Brisbane heat. For much of the first half, the older, slower North Melbourne were run off their feet chasing the tails of the younger, pacier Lions midfield. Had Brisbane not wasted their early chances (4.11 in that first half) they may well have gone into the main break with a handy lead. And from there, who knows what could have transpired? As it turned out, North steadied late in the second quarter – and this period of dominance effectively decided the game’s outcome. Although North outscored the Lions in the third term, the home team were again let down by the poor kicking in the final quarter. 4 goals 5 could so easily have been converted into something which put more pressure on a Kangaroos outfit which had effectively put the cue in the rack soon after three-quarter time.

This was a day when the three-talls combination of Waite, Petrie and Brown worked splendidly and made much of the difference. It is an understatement to say that I have been a critic of Jarrad Waite, but his work rate in the front of half of the ground was particularly impressive. And his kicking for goal (5.1) was superb. But forgive me if I am not too over-zealous with my praise – I would like to see him kick a bag against a decent team. Ben Brown is still improving; he is a beautiful set-shot kick, and importantly he provides Todd Goldstein with pinch-hitting ruck relief. It still takes a good defender to man up on him, but it must be said that Drew Petrie is more of a foil these days. These three led the Lions defenders a merry dance, and will surely do so to better credentialed defences during the season. In particular, the plodding Daniel Merrett was exposed time and again, and resorted to tactics including, but not limited to, driving late knees into stationery bodies and flailing his elbows and forearms about opponents’ heads. I am glad that his type of covert thuggery has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Daniel Wells was everywhere for North. All footy supporters would be pleased to see him back. But his return, too, has reinforced my belief that without him, our midfield (Zeibell, Cunnington, Swallow, Gibson, Jacobs) is as one-paced as a bullock dray. The contrast to the Lions’ cubs was stark.

A rollicking first-up win over Adelaide was soured somewhat by the news that our only new face from round 1, Jed Anderson, would be out for up to ten weeks with a hammy tear. Yes, we would miss his pace, but Anderson’s absence only serves to re-enforce that “sameness” look to North Melbourne’s team. Young debutantes have been few and far between over the past two seasons. Our three draftees from 2014 are yet to feature, and apparently none of our 2015 crop are certainties to play this season.

How much experience is too much? I am concerned that, apart from Goldstein, there is still too much reliance on the old stagers. Our best player on the day was Jarrad Waite, who is 33. Next best Daniel Wells is 31, and of course there is Boomer Harvey, who will turn 38(!) next month. Nick Dal Santo is 32, Drew Petrie is 33, Michael Firrito an old 32. That’s a lot of players who were born in the 80’s (and earlier).

Time can do many things, including making unstable what was once safe ground. I just hope that all those old-timers are not standing on the cliff’s edge when it suddenly decides to give way.

So, in reality, is it so wrong of me not to be cock-a-hoop?

BRISBANE LIONS                    2. 7     4. 11      7. 12     11. 17 (83)
NORTH MELBOURNE             2. 3      8. 8      13. 13     17. 15 (117) 

Brisbane Lions: Green 2, Taylor 2,Zorko 2,C Beams, Bell, Lester, Rockliff, Walker
North Melbourne:  Waite 5, Brown 3, Dal Santo 2, Gibson 2, Harvey 2, Goldstein, Petrie, Ziebell

Brisbane Lions: Hanley, Zorko, Bewick, Taylor
North Melbourne: Waite, Wells, Ziebell, Jacobs, Brown, Swallow, Goldstein

OUR VOTES: 3 Jarrad Waite (NM), 2. Pearce Hanley (BL), 1. Daniel Wells (NM).

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. I’m a bit more chipper than you Smokie, but share your worry that teams with genuine pace are going to be North’s kryptonite. Without wanting to get ahead of myself, the prospect of two unbeaten teams meeting on the Gold Coast with a big build-up in round 5 has heartbreak written all over it.

    Haven’t had any flashy thrashings like the doggies but I think we’ll see the Round 1 win as a good one in hindsight. Adelaide are a decent side.

    And Wellsy. Oh, Wellsy. Be still my heart.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Wells has injected pace and class Smokie. A good win for the Roos on the road. Have you learnt to love Waite yet or are you waiting for the inevitable implosion?

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Smokie it will be interesting to see if all of Norths old legs can last and perform over a whole season.I am a massive,Trent Dumont fan and remain baffled and disappointed re his lack of opportunities
    thoughts,Smokie ?

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    talk about a wet blanket.
    A win’s a win, baby. particularly at the beginning of the season, when we usually never have any success.

    If, if, if, if the Lions had kicked straight. Thy didn’t, North did. Simple. Any win away at the beginning of a season is a good win.

    Round 1 was a stirring, mature victory`. The Crows are a decent mob who threw everything at us. Once North got the game back on their terms, the result was assured.

    Yes, age and lack of pace are problems, however Spud is not in our first 22, all things considered (The Crows targeted him successfully), and once Anderson is back second half of the year to complement Wells, we will have more run. I’m someone who doesn’t completely buy the whole slow and quick team labels. If you’ve got the ball, you look quick. if you don’t, you don’t.

    Our biggest problem is consistency.
    North are a good team. Top four beckons. Round 6 v The Dogs may be the battle for top spot.,

  5. matt watson says

    I viewed this game in calm demeanor.
    Despite Brisbane’s inaccuracy, four of their points were rushed.
    I admire their speed.
    They have a good midfield. They need a key defender and mature tall forward.
    As for North, I worry. Should play finals, but the team is the same as last year, just a year older…

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Will be interesting to see how North manage their over 30 brigade throughout the season. Will help if the team keeps winning.
    Ben Brown is a fantastic talent, really enjoy watching him play.
    Excellent write up Smokie!

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