AFL 2020: North Melbourne v Carlton – Round Eight Knee Jerk Reaction

The Blues hung on in the rain to beat the Roos at the Gabba but will this game be remembered instead as the turning point against ‘fake aggression’?

Are the days of ‘Fake Aggression’ numbered?

Much of the talk post-game centred around the free-kick awarded against Jasper Pittard that cost his team a shot at taking the three-quarter time lead. While opinion was divided, with many of the view that a free kick wasn’t warranted, was the warning shot from the umpires that this behaviour won’t be tolerated anymore?

Strongly in the other camp is Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall who, in his special comments role during the game’s coverage, shared his opinion. “That’s just dumb from Jasper Pittard,” Dunstall said on Fox Footy. This is where I just hate this aggression; it’s fake aggression. You’ve got a teammate having a shot for goal.”

We can’t help but agree with Dunstall. In a contact sport that allows countless opportunities to harness your aggression, there is no requirement for it in these situations. We know that there are plenty of people who will question the ‘toughness’ of the player felled. But what courage is there in bowling him in the first place?

We’ll leave the last word to Rhyce Shaw, who made his feelings known post match. “Jasper showed a lack of discipline and it’s cost us,” Shaw said. “He’s a leader and he knows he was in the wrong. We’ll leave it at that.”

How the Game Was Won

After running out to an early 30-point lead, the Blues were forced to hold on for grim life for grim death to record a heart-stopping seven point victory. Displaying improved poised, they were able to hang on this time after falling short a week earlier at the same venue.

As rain tumbled down in the final term, North were not without their chances but it was Carlton who were able to perform that little bit better in the crucial moments. When Aaron Hall goaled, after Jack Martin missed a chance to ice the contest for the Blues, he closed the gap to seven points. Despite their efforts, they would get no closer.

Ed Curnow was important for the Blues in the middle, laying 10 tackles and putting in plenty of work at the contest, while Matthew Kennedy and Sam Walsh put in solid performances. North Melbourne were led well by Jared Polec and Jed Anderson with Trent Dumont was also impressive in the middle.

What the Coaches Said

North Melbourne

Rhyce Shaw was naturally frustrated post match. “We showed for periods what we’re all about. The start wasn’t fantastic, again we got jumped and were on the back-foot from there. In saying that, I was proud the guys got back on the horse and had a crack,” he said.

He admitted that there had been a momentum change when Jasper Pittard’s push of Marc Murphy prevented Jared Polec taking a shot for the half-time lead. “I consider us a really hard-working side and really disciplined, but that just shows a lack of discipline in that moment and it’s cost us,” he said. “I reckon we take a bit of momentum if we get in front there, but it didn’t happen. I thought we took a bit of momentum anyway into that last quarter. It would have helped.”


After the heartbreak of a week earlier, David Teague was pleased to be on the right side of a close result. “Any close game you want to get the win, I thought the players adapted really well the last couple of minutes when North kicked that last goal. In terms of structure and decisions around the ball, I thought they were very good,” he said.

“We talked about it [the loss to Port Adelaide]. We definitely used it as a learning opportunity, so we discussed it. To the players’ credit, they nailed it pretty well in the last three or four minutes.

“I think this group, even when we haven’t won, the ticker has been there, the fight. We’ve been in every game. We like to compete and create a contest. I thought they adjusted. As much as we probably owned a majority of the third quarter, we had all the play and we just didn’t finish. They kicked that couple late in the third, which gave them a fair bit of energy.”

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NORTH MELBOURNE          1.2      5.2      8.2      9. 3 (57)
CARLTON                              5.1      7.2      8.7      9.10 (64)

North Melbourne:
 Scott 3, Larkey 2, Brown, Hall, Pittard, Polec
Carlton: Cuningham 2, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Casboult, Gibbons, Walsh

North Melbourne:
 Polec, Anderson, McDonald, Hayden, Scott, Walker
Carlton: Kennedy, Murphy, Setterfield, Martin, Walsh, Pittonet

North Melbourne:
Carlton: McKay (knee) replaced in selected side by Moore; McGovern (hamstring)

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