Round 4 – North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs: Will membership next year include health insurance?


So Good Friday footy has arrived, I think I’ll go wet my pants…..well perhaps not but if the Bulldogs weren’t involved then Good Friday in 2017 would have been like any other. I would have been on a plane traveling to wherever it was that I had to go to in order to see the defending premiers play (my goodness, that still takes getting used to saying, defending premiers). Fortunately for many though the premiers took part in history along with North Melbourne, 42000 other people and over $17,00,000 going to give kids hope for a better future. So after observing the custom of not eating meat on Good Friday (nothing wrong with hot chips and gravy folks), it was time to wander into town to see what all the fuss was about.


The game itself was a test for the title holders after another sub par performance against the Purples across the Nullarbor. It wouldn’t be the occasion that would provide the biggest challenge, nor the opposition whom in their appearances in 2017 had trouble containing teams as opposed to scoring. The challenge would be to put in a 4 quarter performance and to ensure that the centre stoppages would not continue to be a headache for coaching staff, players and spectators.


At half time the only positive I would have taken out of it was that the lasses carrying the buckets for the appeal knew exactly how to accept the new $5 note, unlike the work vending machines who accept but don’t recognise them. Mass media often believe that the players believe their hype about themselves making them think they are better players than they are. So it came to pass in the second quarter. Skill errors, decision-making bloopers and general lack of effort required to successfully play at the elite level were the symptoms from my vantage point, and I’m sure the coaching staff would also have realised this. The lack of conversion from North rather than inaccuracy (only 6 scoring shots having dominated the quarter) was probably keeping the visitors for the day in the contest.


North finally managed to make their momentum count for something kicking the first 3 goals for the quarter and creating frustration among those who had celebrated past achievements a fortnight earlier. Then the tide turned following a key spoil from the unheralded (and largely unsighted) Zaine Cordy. His critical intervention that led to a Dunkley goal off a scoring chain full of loose players creating overlaps sparked a run of goals that actually saw the premiers edge in front for a couple of minutes.


The last quarter was a catalyst for the defibrillators and paddles to be put on standby. Suddenly the poor skill and decision making of the first hour was forgotten, as critical goals from forward clearances initially kept North at bay. A couple of quick North goals put paid to that, although at least the frustration had turned to optimism that a counter move would result in a response. Three goals in 4 minutes yet again saw a momentum swing, although the first of these saw the Bulldog tall forward department end up like a casualty ward (not a Callan Ward, his name isn’t mentioned in the corridors these days). Without T.Boyd and Cloke it turned out to be Matthew Suckling, who prior to half time had committed no fewer than 5 turnovers (Russell Westbrook may have been proud though, 5 away from another leg in a triple-double) and whose kicking was trying to be more advanced than it should have been, that took the decisive mark and goal to get the multiple scoring shot cushion, a lead that would not be lost.


It wouldn’t be for lack of trying, I guess I didn’t yell the fact that the game wasn’t over through the celebrations loud enough as Ziebell (whose contribution in many people’s eyes was busting Cloke’s ribs) scrambled a goal, then after some defensive footy didn’t go to plan it was left to one of the most maligned players to reach the 200 game milestone to have the spotlight. Lindsay Thomas has polarised more people through his actions than Malcolm Turnbull, but in the last 30 seconds he could have shut the knockers up for a long time. His first effort was pulled harder than another polarising figure, Virat Kohli, would pull a short half tracker to the boundary. His second chance attempting to emulate a Michael Jordan buzzer beater (who according to a Nike ad in the late 90’s that probably needed updating was trusted with the game winning shot and missed 26 times) sailed towards the goals and glory, then the post and total agony, and eventually slightly short and wide of the mark leading to despair, as the siren apparently sounded prior to the signal being given. I say apparently because many Bulldog fans roared whilst others collapsed in their seat and/or like I did, exhale and check if the ticker was still working as it should have. There was a Facebook post in a private group I’m part of that jokingly said that if games were going to be that close again could health insurance be included in the membership package for next season. My response was to state that if it cost less than what I’m paying now every month I’d look at it!


I guess I had better make some sort of comment on the pair of decisions by the men in green that has caused much discussion. From my vantage point I couldn’t clearly see what had happened regarding the ruck infringement seconds before the final change. What I can say however is that nominations are seemingly causing more issues than preselecting candidates for Federal Parliament. Based upon replays I didn’t think Dunkley was contesting the ruck contest given Bontempelli’s hand was raised. Basically the umpires are as confused as anyone regarding the rule, and if they’re confused about it and the intricacies that this has somehow created, then what hope to those who have to play to those rules, let alone those who watch such rules in action have of understanding what can and can’t happen? As for the deliberate out of bounds with 2 minutes to go, I’m on record for saying that was the worst decision in 30 years that I’ve seen. The intention of the player was not to hit the ball over the line, but to a teammate close to the player concerned, so that should have at least made the officials think that perhaps he was setting up a teammate rather than looking for a stoppage. His second intention (if you can call it that) was to deny his opponent the ball. If players cannot legally deny his opponent a chance at clean possession then what would be the point of even creating a contest that the players and coaches like? Perhaps the umpires should start paying every spoil that goes out of bounds as deliberate.


So with a record of 3-1 yet playing nowhere near at the high standards set in September 2016, the defending premiers are in the lead peloton progressing through the first climb of the tour de AFL. North meantime are lagging on the so called “Autobus” with the other Grand Finalist, what odds that happening when the bats were put into storage in 2017?





NORTH: Brown 4.1, Simpkin 2.0, Turner 2.0, Higgins 1.3, Garner 1.1, Goldstein 1.0, Ziebell 1.0, Thomas 0.3, Gibson 0.1, Macmillan 0.1, Preuss 0.1, RUSHED 0.3
DOGS: Stringer 2.3, Suckling 2.2, Dahlhaus 2.0, Cloke 1.2, Dunkley 1.2, Bontempelli 1.1, Liberatore 1.0, Macrae 1.0, Murphy 1.0, Hunter 0.1, Jong 0.1, Picken 0.1, RUSHED 0.4

NORTH: Cunnington, Garner, Hrovat, Brown, Turner, Ziebell
DOGS: Dahlhaus, Macrae, Campbell, McLean, Picken, Bontempelli

1: Jackson MACRAE (DOGS)


CROWD: 42814 at Docklands

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.


  1. Les Currie says:

    Very good article Mick. A real nail-biter. We were lucky. My shorter review coming up.

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