R1 – GWS v North Melbourne – The Mongrel Review

There wasn’t a lot of love amongst the Mongrel writers when it came to reviewing this game, and I must admit there were times where I thought I would struggle to see out the whole match, despite North making it interesting for a period of the second quarter.

Up until halftime, it felt like the Giants were in cruise control, and North were perhaps lucky to be as close as they were by virtue of kicking eight straightgoalss without a misss. All in all though, North never really looked like winning this one, and eventually the Giants upped the pressure slightly to come away with a comfortable win.


The Giants Defence:

Geez they were good in this one. North did not take a single mark inside their forward 50 for the entire first quarter with Sam Taylor and company owning that part of the ground. Larkey was the main target, and he was comprehensively beaten by Taylor (more on Larkey in a bit).

In fact, North’s first goal came when Taylor followed Larkey up to a contest on the wing, so when the ball quickly went inside 50 from there it allowed Coleman-Jones to at least halve the aerial contest resulting in a crumbing goal for North.

I thought perhaps North may take notice of what can happen when Taylor was forced out of D50 by Larkey, but it needn’t of mattered. If it wasn’t Taylor, then it was Harry Himmelberg, or Jack Buckley preventing North forwards from getting anywhere near the pill. These three accounted for 30 intercept possessions between them for the match.

It wasn’t until halfway through the second quarter that North were able to record their first mark inside 50 for the game, resulting in a Stephenson goal.

It is extremely difficult to win games of footy if you can’t take marks inside your forward line, and the GWS backline was in no mood to allow the North forwards a sniff in this one.


The Giants attack/North’s Defence:

At the other end of the ground, the Giants attackers were once again potent. Are the Giants tall forwards this good? Or is North’s defence severely undermanned? It’s probably a bit of both in this one, to be honest.

In the Giants talls, you had a pick 1, and pick 2 (Cadman and Hogan), along with Riccardi and the big Irishman, Callum Brown. And on the otherside of the tape you had two tall players from the VFL – and it looked exactly like that at times during this game.

Toby Pink and Kallan Dawson will have easier days than this for sure, as not many teams they go up against have this sort of tall potency in their forward line that GWS possesses. And let’s not forget these same talls managed to smash a premiership defence out of the park last weekend, as well.

Jake Riccardi was on early and probably could have had four goals by quarter time finishing with 3.2. Hogan finished with six, while Brown and Cadman chipped in with two apiece.

There are not going to be too many defences in the AFL who will have the manpower to go with these talls if they are all on, but asking two blokes from the VFL to do it was a bit of a baptism of fire.


Nick Larkey:

As mentioned earlier, Larkey was comprehensively beaten by Taylor for large parts in this one.

You might look at the stats and be forgiven for thinking Larkey did okay with three goals, but stats can sometimes be misleading.

He took one mark in the first quarter, a mark he was lucky to be paid really. With his proceeding kick into 50, he failed to clear the man on the mark (Taylor) who jumped and smothered it. It kind of summed up their contest to that point.

Time and time again, Taylor was too easily able to body Larkey under the flight of the ball – could some of this been the way the ball was delivered? Maybe. But Larkey is big lad, bigger than Taylor (atleast I think he is now that they don’t publish player weights anymore), but you wouldn’t have known that based on the ease with which Taylor was able to body Larkey out of marking contests.

Larkey might have ended up with three goals, but from memory only one of them was from a mark and a set shot. He took three marks for the day to Sam Taylor’so seven, and it all just felt a bit too easy for Taylor today. I feel like North fans would want to see a bit more mongrel from the big Souv next week.


Any North positives?:

North never looked likely to win this one, and that is no shame, up against a team that is right in the conversation for the flag, but there were some positives they can take out of this one.

Tristan Xerri was very good today. I was interested in the ruck battle as I view Briggs and Xerri as two ruckmen who should be taking the next step in their careers, and it’s fair to say Xerri took the chocolates.

They were about even in hitouts, but Xerri’s second efforts, as well as efforts around the ground, really eclipsed anything Briggs bought to the table. Xerri finished the day with 14 contested possessions, eight clearances and nine tackles to lead North in all of those areas. A great game for the big fella and if he can stay fit, he could be massive for North this year

I liked the look of Zane Duursma. Kicked 2.1 with one of those goals coming from a nice mark after floating across the front of the pack. He also wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty, winning a free kick for holding the ball inside forward 50 – a coaches dream!

Sheezel just did Sheezel things all day. It’s easy to forget this kid is in just his second season, and maybe his accomplishments are a little overshadowed due to another young bloke running around with a famous surname. There are plenty of comparisons to be made between the two, and I would love to see him moved into the midfield a little more this season.

Colby McKercher was very composed today and between him and Zac Fisher, they should have enough run and carry in the defensive half to unleash Sheezel in a more offensive role.

And that will just about do me. A 39 point victory in a game where GWS looked like they were cruising in parts, but there was certainly some nice aspects of North’s game today. It really was a game that showed just where each club is at, with very little surprises throughout the afternoon.

I fear the defensive tall situation at North may be telling throughout the season, and although Ben McKay is probably being overpaid at Essendon, I wonder how much North would have paid for him to be out there today?