Rhyce Shaw has some work ahead of him.
The Kangaroos are in need of a whole lot of work before they can become a force again in the AFL. After years and years of railing against it, there is no avoiding the fact that the playing list needs a complete overhaul. Despite defying critics and getting more than anybody thought possible out of their squads, they are now left without the necessary weapons to compete against the best teams in the competition.
It wouldn’t be North Melbourne though if they went quietly into the night. While admitting post match that the club would now be playing with a focus on the future, Rhyce Shaw also made it clear that they will continue to fight in the moment. They don’t know any other way at Arden Street.
How the Game Was Won
Just like they had in Round 10 against Adelaide, Melbourne put on the afterburners in the final quarter to run out convincing winners against North Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval. An unanswered eight goal run seeing a ten point margin late in the third quarter become a percentage boosting 57-point victory.
Despite 33-disposals from Luke McDonald and four goals from Nick Larkey, it was the midfield work and forward craft of Melbourne that would prove the difference in this one. While he would only kick two goals, Sam Weideman continues to be a presence for them up forward. The Demons forward line has looked a much more cohesive unit with him in the team.
The new found belief in their forwards has helped Melbourne become incredibly more direct. Despite losing the possession count against North, they were +28 for inside 50s. They also made it count when they went inside scoring 51.7% of the time they went forward a considerable improvement on their season average of 42%.
Christian Petracca continued his hot run of form in the middle. A beast at the contest he 17 of his 29 possessions were contested, his work helping the Dees to shade the Roos in this area. While he mightn’t have hit the scoreboard himself, he racked up 12 score involvements!
What the Coaches Said
Simon Goodwin was most pleased with the way his team responded without their two man leadership group. “There’s a bit of maturity building in our group,” Goodwin said in his post-match press conference,” he said “The way they go about their footy, without the captain and vice-captain today; our emerging leaders really stood up.”
He was particularly pleased with the output of Angus Brayshaw. “I gave (Brayshaw) added responsibility last week and I thought he stood up last week, and (he had) even more leadership stuff today,” Goodwin said. “He continues to improve and grow his game. He’s an outstanding footballer, he’s a smart footballer and he continues to get better. He’s, obviously, much talked about, Angus, but he’s also much-loved by us and he’s going to be a really strong player for our footy club for a long time.”
A bitterly disappointed Rhyce Shaw admitted his team wasn’t up to standard. “Our display tonight, for the majority of the game, wasn’t acceptable. It’s not up to standard, or befitting of our football club,” Shaw said post-match. “I thought the first quarter we had the game on our terms and played a good brand of footy. The pressure was up, we were able to pick apart Melbourne – (but) then we decided to go a different path. Melbourne took full advantage of that and it’s just not up to standard. It’s not acceptable and it’s really disappointing.”
“I think with six games to go, we’re going to find out a lot about our players and our list,” Shaw said. “We’re at that stage now – it’s just the reality of it. I don’t think I’m saying anything that’s going to be a shock to anyone now, but, in saying that, I don’t give up. That’s not me, that’s not this football club and that’s not what we’re about, so … we’ll keep fighting and look to produce good football over this period of time, but we’ll certainly find out about a few players.”
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.2 4.2 5.4 5.5 (35)
MELBOURNE 1.4 4.7 7.8 13.14 (92)
North Melbourne: Larkey 4, Daw
Melbourne: Weideman 2, Fritsch 2, Pickett, Brayshaw, Melksham, Petracca, Spargo, T.McDonald, Hannan, Sparrow, Oliver
North Melbourne: McDonald, Larkey, Dumont, Davies-Uniacke, Goldstein, Higgins
Melbourne: Petracca, Brayshaw, Oliver, Langdon, Pickett, Lever, Weideman
North Melbourne: Bonar (left shoulder), Anderson (eye), Walker (corked thigh), Tarrant (corked calf)