NORTH MELBOURNE 4.5 7.8 14.12 15.17 (107) MELBOURNE 3.0 6.0 8.4 10.6 (66)
Goals: North Melbourne: A Mullett 2 L Greenwood 2 L Thomas 2 A Black A Swallow B Brown B Cunnington B Harvey D Petrie J Ziebell R Nahas S Atley. Melbourne: B Vince 3 C Dawes 3 A Riley C Pedersen J Frawley R Bail.
Best North Melbourne: Greenwood, Dal Santo, Thompson, Petrie, Harvey, Ziebell, Cunnington. Melbourne: Vince, McDonald, N Jones, Dawes, Watts, Dunn, Tyson.
Injuries: North Melbourne: A Swallow (knee) R Nahas (shoulder). Melbourne: J Watts (back).
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Jordan Bannister, Craig Fleer.
Official Crowd: 26,615 at MCG.
In a game that spanned two hours it was just 10 minutes of play that was the critical difference. The difference in the contest, in the score and in the class.
Kangaroos cast off Demons
North Melbourne easily accounted for a subpar Melbourne on Sunday, trouncing the Demons with a 41 point victory.
It was not the only difference, but when North ramped up the pressure for 10 minutes in the third term and booted five unanswered goals the momentum uprooted Melbourne’s doggedness and put an end to the contest.
For a half the Demons, primarily through efficiency in front of goal in booting six straight goals, remained in touch just 14 points down.
When Chris Dawes booted a goal straight after the main break to narrow the margin to just seven points and arouse the idea in the Melbourne players that having kept themselves in the contest now was the chance to capitalise and steal North’s thunder, instead it was North who claimed the game’s most important moment.
It began with Jack Ziebel – steadily improving in his ability to spend his rest time as a difficult half-forward – who squeezed through a quick chance. Shaun Atley found a loose ball two minutes later, Lindsay Thomas converted a set shot from Aaron Mullett’s intercept and the Roos were bounding.
Nathan Jones’ clumsy fumble at half-back opened a door for Andrew Swallow to goal. Then Aaron Black seized on a poor Melbourne kick in to slide a goal from a tight angle.
On debut, Ben Brown bounded out on a lead and gripped a tidy mark, and enjoyed his goal. That put North out to 44 points and the match was largely complete at that point.
Brown proved himself as a robust but raw competitor who helped create a contest forward in a strong attack on the ball and relief in the ruck.
Of minor satisfaction for Melbourne was that again when the game opened out it was able to avoid the sort of blowout that would have happened in previous years. Only once has it happened this year, the round two West Coast obliteration, and it might have again but two goals in the last term with North goaling just once ensured the Roos did not inflict the sort of punishment that causes angst.
The Demons might have had one more goal in the last term but an interminably long score review denied North a goal despite the video evidence not appearing to show a clear reason whey the goal was refused.
North’s pressure helped conjure its goals. Ten of its 14 goals were from Melbourne turnovers which were a consequence of North hustling. That 10-minute period helped avoid the consequences of the messiness of some of North’s early attack.
Robin Nahas booted the first goal of the match but then missed two howlers the second of which he was plainly trying to offer as a gift goal to first-gamer Brown but he almost missed his foot with the chip pass from 25 metres out and a certain goal was missed. Nahas continued to be a vibrant presence in the second term until he cracked his right shoulder in a tackle and had to be substituted out.
He is likely to now miss some football.
So too might Jordie McKenzie, who clipped Lindsay Thomas on the jaw with an elbow in a collision. The match review panel will assess whether it was accidental or silly.
North captain Andrew Swallow spent the last quarter on the bench having his knee assessed after he twisted it in a tackle.
Having suffered a late start to the season from injury it was a worrying sight.
Bernie Vince was tremendous and despite being on the losing side was the stand out player on the day. Inexplicably North didn’t work a tight tag on him as he collected touches. Vince had 14 touches and two goals to quarter time, 25 touches, four inside 50s and three goals to the half. Ryan Bastinac moved onto him for the second half and dulled Vince’s influence for a period but the Demon still won that match up.
Jack Watts was creative and intelligent in his movement across half-forward for Melbourne forcing the North defenders to be spread and creating options for his forwards.