Round 9 – Melbourne v North Melbourne: Sixteen’s a Charm

 

Despite the unpredictable season that has been 2017, some things will never change.

 

North Melbourne notched up its 16th consecutive victory against the Dees at the MCG on Sunday arvo, in what has been a routine victory for the Roos since 2006.

 

Despite the improvement of the in-form Melbourne, who came off a victory against ladder leaders Adelaide in round eight, they couldn’t find that winning formula to match it with the Roos. Many must’ve forgotten about North’s win against the Crows just two weeks earlier – which was arguably bigger and better than their round nine rivals.

 

There will always be those who blame the umpires for a result going one way or another, however Sunday wasn’t one of them. While the free kick count read 22-10, a great portion of North’s frees came from tackling pressure and holding the ball decisions. As the Roos had 18 more tackles than the Dees, it’s no surprise they were rewarded for their efforts. There was also the big problem that Melbourne struggled the rebound the ball out of their defensive 50- particularly in the first quarter, they were turning the ball over at every attempt to kick out.

 

It was a gutsy win by North. A hard fought battle until the end and to the joy of supporters, the Shinboners didn’t give in. The last 10 minutes of the game may have re-defined North’s season. I don’t want to speak too soon, however they managed to rectify their errors displayed in rounds 2, 4 and 5 and found a way to win. The Dees got within two points of the Roos, but rather than falling to the pressure of the determined Melbourne, the Roos kicked three of the last four goals to run out 14 point winners.

 

Ben Cunnington was outstanding. You wouldn’t know he injured his knee in the first quarter just by reading the stats. Upon his return late in the first, he would go on to record a team high 26 disposals, lay four tackles and collect a game high eight clearances to add to his goal kicked in the opening minutes. It was an inspiring performance, and he wasn’t alone leading the troops.

 

Ben Brown is becoming a regular mention in 2017. His five goals were brilliant, and he was great below his knees as he was above his head. A purple patch in the third quarter saw him kick three goals and he was a monstrous presence up forward. The inclusion of Waite back into the side clearly took some pressure off the young gun, who relished in his role up forward. Mason Wood joined him; his three-goal performance the best for the season.

 

Todd Goldstein made the most of Max Gawn’s absence, in a dominant 61-hit out display. He notched up 44 by half time, and was on track to beat his own record of 80 hit outs in a game. While it was not meant to be, Goldstein had an influence around the ground, too. He provided a reliable marking presence, had 17 touches and 8 tackles.

 

Robbie Tarrant has backed up his (almost) All-Australian form from last season by proving a powerhouse in defence. Over the last two weeks, he has conceded just two goals; in the last seven weeks, conceded seven goals while still having an impact. Expect talks on another squad nomination to get louder in coming weeks.

 

Tarrant’s abundance of praise has been shared with former Magpie Marley Williams, who has quickly become a fan favourite at Arden Street. His desperation for the ball and 100% effort has not gone unnoticed, with a general agreement that he has been a sensational pick up in the off season. The amazing thing about Williams, is his composure and decision making in crucial moments during the game. North have struggled the find a clutch player, but a string of key moments from Williams has seen him become the man for the moment. His clutch goal against the Cats in round two, that phenomenal tackle in round 5, and late in the fourth quarter on Sunday he spoiled a string of Melbourne handballs through the centre of the ground and took North back into the attacking 50. Williams also played a great shut down role on the electric Jeff Garlett, who was kept to seven touches at 42% efficiency and held goalless for the game.

 

While a couple of moments of panic ran through me during the game, that supporters would be on the receiving end of another heartbreaking result, on the whole North looked in control of the game. The improvement over the past four weeks is evident.

 

The Roos have now won 3 of their last four matches, with winnable games against Carlton and Richmond coming up. While they are definitely no certainties, North could see themselves go 5-6 into their round 12 bye. It promises to be a massive fortnight, but the Roos could finally start being rewarded for their efforts.

 

It’s a season in which almost anything can happen and North fans are holding onto hope that a little more luck, and a lot more ability to run out game, will see them unleash the Shinboner spirit and re-ignite their season.

 

Comments

  1. Marnie,
    When I watched the game I thought North looked much better than the team that had such an awful start to the year.
    They looked different to the team that faltered in those close games against Geelong, Fremantle and the Bulldogs.
    Here’s hoping North can maintain the momentum…
    Cheers

  2. paul baines says

    MRP should be available in transcript, Hansard is, why not the AFL. Also members of the public should be allowed to hear the discussions. Why not?
    Some goals reviewed, some not. Some players sighted, some not. Why? No accountability, no answers from Gillon. I know he is happy to think most people are dumb and accept everything, but some are not and want answers. So , let’s hear the answers I think he should be straight with the public on these things or walk.

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