Do you keep shopping around for a new car when old reliable in the garage just keeps on surprising you? You figured you'd get a few weeks out of it's tyres before you trade it in for something with a proven performance and sound numbers to back it up. Are you really surprised when that dusty old prospect you've had buried out the back all along gels your players and showcases their capabilities that many had given up on?
Perhaps I'm getting carried away with that metaphor, but this is the reality for North Melbourne. Amongst all the talk of who should be Brad Scott's long term successor at North Melbourne, not many had Rhyce Shaw in their sights, but has he shown enough? He has the backing of the players, as shown through their on-field actions and their off-field statements. He has changed the teams gameplan and mindset ever so slightly, and the rewards for performing to their capabilities are vastly expanding.
An unrelenting first quarter to North Melbourne, in front of 10,696 spectators at Blundstone Arena was the catalyst for their 39 point victory over St. Kilda. The Roos lead at every change and dominated almost every stat for the game.
It all started from the centre with Todd Goldstein's classy ruckwork setting up numerous textbook inside 50s from Jack Ziebell and Jy Simpkin. Showing the Saints how a competitive forward line looks, from there the attack was dominated by Cameron Zurhaar, Nick Larkey and Ben Brown, combining for 13 of the Roo's eventual seventeen goals for the day.
North Melbourne's First Quarter.
Score- 7.5.49 - 1.1.13
Disposals- 107 - 68
Clearances- 13 - 5
Hitouts- 14 - 4
Inside 50s- 21 - 7
The Roos dominated almost every stat in a commanding first quarter effort. Nick Larkey (a.k.a. Souva) kicking 3.2.
Jy Simpkin mustered up a lazy six contested possessions, three clearances, three score involvements and kicked the opening goal.
Young Boomers Booming.
Five goals apiece to Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar, run and carry from the backline, clean clearances all around the ground; North Melbourne have stuck strong with their young and recruited players which is paying dividends. With Ben Brown playing further up the ground and covering more distance than any other player, the multiple avenues to goal are a pleasing prospect for forwards coaches.
Bruce gets Loose.
A shining light on a bleak day for Saints fans. Josh Bruce managed to break the shackles and bag half a dozen goals, more than half his team's goal tally. He appeared to be one of only a handful of players not so easily accountable for by the opposition. Also managing the most goals kicked by a Saint since Tim Membrey also kicked 6 straight against West Coast in Round 11, 2018.
Man of Steele.
Jack Steele was ferocious, laying 18 Tackles for the game, more than any other Saint since records have been kept. Breaking his own record of 17 shared with David Armitage.
St. Kilda's 39 point loss was their 11th loss for the season, seven of which have been by 29 points or higher, six of those losses they have conceded 100 points. Only twice this year have they managed to score more than 80 points in a game
Cunnington Cops Charge.
Ben Cunnington must be feeling the economic pinch, charged with his fifth offense this season for his strike on Jade Gresham. Four charges of striking and one of making careless contact with an umpire have set the Roo back $15,500 in fines thus far for the season. The North Melbourne hard man is unknowingly edging himself closer and closer to a mid-season holiday. Accumulating his fourth charge for the season now lands him in a precarious position; should he be charged with another offense this season, the MRO will have the option of directing him straight to the tribunal. If this was to occur, the Tribunal would adjudicate his punishment based on all of his previous offences this season, not just the single charge he was referred for.
Writing on the wall?
The Harrowing images of St. Kilda football boss Simon Leathlean sitting adjacent to head coach Alan Richardson in the coaches box during the game have caught the attention of the AFL media, and rightfully so.
Is there a more universally dooming prospect than having your boss hovering over your shoulder whilst you work, especially given the current climate at the football club? As much as the Saints camp has down played the footage, there is no denying the impact it will have in the future when Richarson's tenure is up. Six seasons without making finals, this season will surely be his last.
-Jack Billings hard work went largely unnoticed in their loss, 35 disposals, 4 clearances and 6 tackles is a day out for any AFL player.
-21 of Jy Simpkin's 36 disposals were contested.
- Rhyce Shaw has the support of his players.
- North Melbourne have finally won a game at their "home ground" in Tasmania this year, after losing their last 3.
- Will Majak Daw struggle to find a spot to return to in a Kangaroos outfit on the rise?
- Ben Brown covering 16kms (more than any other player for the day) shows how his role has adapted to a Nick Riewoldt style of forward that plays all around the ground.
- Nick "Souva" Larkey earning North's fourth Rising Star nomination for the year highlights their young talent.
- A dirty day for Jake Carlisle, will we ever see him reach the heights he showed at Essendon under St. Kilda's current game structure?
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