North Melbourne v GWS - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Kangaroos taught the Giants a couple of lessons in Hobart. They put on a show of pressure football, how to play with the wind, and how to protect a lead in a great win at what’s fast becoming a fortress for the club,

North Melbourne ran out winners by 43 points, with Ben Brown bagging five and Jarrad Waite adding four.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly of another win for the surprising North Melbourne footy club.

 

THE GOOD

Ben Brown’s third quarter

It was billed as a bit of a homecoming for Brown, and throughout the first half, it was a real fizzer, with Tim Mohr doing a splendid job on him. Mohr was using his body so well to get Brown out of the contest that I started to worry that Big Ben would start to worry more about engaging Mohr physically than going for the ball.

All those fears were laid to rest as the third quarter got underway and Brown put his foot down. Five big goals helped North stamp their authority on the contest. It was probably a good thing to get the first from a snap, but it was the last of the quarter that was the best.

It was the kind of goal that makes a big statement that the game belonged to the Kangaroos. Had it been a three goal game, the spirits of the Giants may have been buoyed, but Brown marked against two opponents and slammed through his fifth of the game to leave no doubt that North Melbourne were on!

Waite early

Before Brown got going, it was Jarrad Waite anchoring North’s attack.

He kicked four goals from 22 disposals today. I have to admit, I did not see Waite being this effective, but alongside Brown and Jack Ziebell, Waite is the wily old man who can bob up and do a lot of damage in a very short space. Today, that damage was in the first quarter, and it aided the Roos in putting some early distance between them and the Giants.

He was very good in the first quarter, marking

Hartung’s hands

I gave Hartung a whack last week for being fumbly under pressure, but twice today he was as clean as a whistle and it was those sure hands that led to goals for his team.

The first one came from a stoppage where Hartung got first hands on it and fed Shaun Higgins. He looked forward and spotted Ben Brown, who marked and goaled.

Minutes later it was Hartung’s quick hands again that enabled Ziebell to spot Brown in the pocket. He kicked truly again, but neither of those two goals would’ve been possible had Hartung not been so clean at ground level.

So, we gave him a whack last week, and he redeemed himself this week. That’s what you want to see – resilience.

Jed Anderson

This is the second week in a row Anderson has crafted an impressive game. Last week he had 28 touches in the loss to the Tigers, and this week there was another 26 touches, which included a game-high 17 contested disposals and eight clearances.

Anderson is now starting to show the form North were hoping for when they traded for him, and he is definitely repaying the faith they’ve showed in him while he was struggling.

This time last year, hawthorn fans were smiling, thinking they’d offloaded an oft-injured mid for an A-grader in the making in Ryan Burton. 12 months later, the trade has started to swing back the other way.

The Rolls Royce

People have been singing his praises all season, and most of last year as well/. I’ll admit, I didn’t think he was getting enough of it, but today made me a believer.

It’s one thing to get plenty of the ball, but it’s another thing to use it well, and when I say that, I don’t just mean a nice percentage in terms of effectiveness. It's about vision and making effective kicks and handballs that positively impact the contest for your team.

That's what Higgins is doing. His disposals hurt, because he's the one that takes the difficult kick and makes it. he's the one putting it down Ben Brown's throat or forcing the recipient to come to the spot where he knows they'll be able to get it. Hats off to Shaun Higgins - he's all class.

Jacob Hopper

He was probably the best for the Giants. As some of their talented mids (Shiel/Coniglio) wasted the ball a lot of the time they got it, Hopper looked sharp and dangerous.

He had 24 touches and five tackles, and was one of very few Giants who could hold his head high. As the Giants injury list is the big concern, one of the highlights of a worrying season has been the growth of Hopper as he fills the void left by the GWS star mids.

The strangulation of the Giants at the start of the last

Brad Scott didn’t fail me. Starting the last quarter, I thought that all the Roos had to do was tie things up for ten or so minutes. Sounds simple, right? Well, it never is, but North did it so well that they made it seem easy.

The wind had dropped significantly, and it was North Melbourne who kicked the first of the last quarter, via Trent Dumont. This came after three consecutive misses by the Giants – bad kicking is bad football. Keefe answered for GWS almost immediately, but by this time over nine minutes had expires, and North and Brad Scott had successfully strangled the life out of the game, and the Giants.

It was another ten minutes until Todd Goldstein marked and goaled to completely seal it, but it was the discipline of North Melbourne entering the last quarter that was the most impressive.

 

THE BAD

The Giants first quarter tactics

So, how many times did the Giants bomb the ball out of defensive 50, only to see it come straight back in via a mark to a Kangaroos player? I’d wait for you to go back and count, but it’d take a while, and if any Richmond supporters are reading, you probably can’t count that high – haha.

Over and over again the Giants’ defenders and mids hacked the ball out of their defence, and North was there waiting. I remember thinking at the end of the second, that even though the Giants were in front, North were playing much better football.

If Leon Cameron was telling them to kick it close to the boundary coming out of defence, the Giants were not listening.

The use of Rory Lobb. If he’s not going to ruck, what is he in there for?

So did I hear right that Lobb did not contest a centre bounce against Goldstein until the third quarter? Meanwhile, you have Lachie Keefe shouldering the load in there and being beaten soundly.

Lobb was able to sneak forward and snag a goal, but so was Goldstein, so that’s not a factor. You have to wonder why they’re dumping Patton from the team when he is a stud compared to Lobb. In a team rife with injuries to stars, they’re keeping one out of the team and replacing him with Keefe? Then not even playing their regular ruckman in his actual position?

Today it seemed as though Leon Cameron was trying to play chess, but was making moves like he was playing checkers.

Dangerous tackle paid to Ben Brown was rubbish

I can’t understand this rule at times. Ben Brown picked up speed and barrelled towards harry Himmelberg, who laid the tackle, and both men were carried forward. This was not a Nic Naitanui kind of tackle where he was attacking a stationary target – Brown was the one with the momentum, here.

Himmelberg wrapped him up and took him to ground. Brown was paid the free kick for a dangerous tackle and Harry couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. That was not a dangerous tackle, and even if it was, Brown was as much at fault for it as Himmelberg.

 

THE UGLY

No contesting in the air.

I got a bit sick of North marking uncontested in what should have been contested situations. Too many times there was a pack forming, and only one pair of hands extending toward the ball. Luckily for North Melbourne, those pairs of hands usually belonged to them.

Anyone who’s played the game will have heard a teammate yell “You’ve gotta go” as you head towards a contest. Either no one is yelling that for the Giants, or what could be even more concerning, no one is actually going.

Jeremy Cameron costing his team a shot on goal

Look, I don’t know what he was thinking, and it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest that Cameron’s actions are symptomatic of the Giants overall problems, but giving that free kick away as  was getting ready to have a shot in the third quarter was as undisciplined, and stupid, as it comes.

It was the second quarter and the Giants were making a bit of a charge. They were up and about, and Cameron taking the ball out of his teammate’s hands was crucial. North kicked the next goal, with Mason Wood slotting one home to reduce the Giants’ lead.

Whether there was a lot in the reversal or not is inconsequential. The issue is that the Giants were ready to have a shot at goal and within minutes their lead was whittled down. Big blue by Cameron.

 

OTHER BITS

The midfield is the natural habitat for Jack Ziebell, but moving him forward has created quite a problem for opposition coaches. Strong through the body and a great pair of hands, Ziebell can torch his direct opponent on the lead. When North was looking for someone up the ground tonight, he presented and took seven grabs. His goal from fifty in the third quarter was absolutely beautiful.

Jacobs did a good job on Dylan Shiel early, but then looked to move right away from him after half time. Shiel ended with 24 and 12 tackles. He worked hard, but was nullified early when Jacobs was on him. I saw him move to Coniglio in the third, as he was starting to hurt North after a first half that saw him spraying his disposals everywhere.

It took Jeremy Cameron working up from the forward line and marking for the Giants to get a decent exit from their defensive 50 in the first quarter. It made a nice change from them kicking it straight to their North Melbourne opponents.

Shiel was really stiff not to get holding the ball against Jacobs in the first. He held it forever and did not dispose of it correctly. Not sure how long a bloke gets to hold the ball these days.

Five minutes into the second you could see North’s defensive set up, with either Tarrant or Daw dropping back into the hole was vastly superior to the efforts of the Giants in the first.

Loved Scott Thompson’s tackle on Zac Langdon in the second. Picture perfect tackle, pinning the arm and taking him to ground. Langdon loves a bit of contact and even he would have to appreciate just how good that tackle was.

Cameron’s rolling goal in the second was thanks to two consecutive tackles from Dylan Shiel that caused the turnover. Credit to Shiel – he was being quietened by Jacobs, so he did some of the hard work with his tackling.

There was a really good 20 seconds of hard, contested footy in the second, with Kane Turner collecting Lachie Whitfield and then Jeremy Finlayson making a crunching body spoil across half back. Two big collisions and both were called play on. It was well done from the umpires who are usually so quick on the trigger in a collision.

Zac Langdon’s kick for goal, allowing the wind to do its job and bring it back was absolutely lovely.

I reckon Jack Ziebell may have killed an umpire in a previous life or something. He gets a shocking run. If there is a line ball decision, it inevitably goes against Ziebell every single time.

Waite’s kick for goal for his fourth was the kick of a veteran. Didn’t try to kill it into the wind. Kept it low and hard and steered it through.

I saw a bit of an undisciplined side to Stephen Coniglio’s game today. This was emphasised by a free kick he gave to Higgins in the second. He looks frustrated.

I have no idea what Lachie Keefe was trying to do when he bumped Shaun Higgins in the third. He should have tackled – at least a tackle had the chance to be effective. This bump was possibly the softest bump I’ve seen. Higgins just rode it and kicked the Roos forward.

Cunnington and Shiel went head to head in the third. Good contest between the two.

Jy Simpkin seems to play cameos for North. His sidestep of Shiel before kicking his goal in the third was quality.

Sheil’s hard running through the middle was integral in setting up Aidan Corr for a rare goal. He busted a gut to get repeat touches and found Corr for the goal.

The Giants are a real all or nothing team on as they exit defensive fifty. If they didn’t mark it, North just seemed to grab it and hurt them. They were atrocious bringing the ball out. Maybe credit the North pressure, or perhaps it was just really poor structure/kicking, but it needs to be addressed.

Great goal assist to Jacobs, roving the tap and feeding Dumont in the fourth.

Heath Shaw provided something for the Giants when he started pushing into the middle. They have the engine room in Coniglio and Shiel, but they’re missing Kelly terribly, and Whitfield was down today too.

The wind really died in the last. Kicks from the 50 metre line were now dropping short, whereas they were sailing through in the second for the Giants. Both Whitfield and Corr failed to make the distance.

Not sure what else Mason Wood could’ve done in his contest with Corr. Penalised for undercutting him – had he wanted to, he could’ve done some damage.

In the dying stages of the game, Jack Ziebell threw himself across the boot of Tim Taranto. I reckon this act sums North up this year. Ziebell would’ve been cooked, and the game was over, but he threw himself into the contest anyway. North know no other way, and it’s why they’ve already got more wins than a lot of people thought they would for the year. Great win.

One more thing - at The Mongrel we loved the way Ben Cunnington just went about his business all week without fanfare. Broke a record last week, but did you see him jumping into every interview possible? Nope... he is all about footy, and you have to love that about him. Blue collar worker in the blue and white.

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