North Melbourne showed some courage in captain Jack Ziebell’s 250th AFL game, but it wasn’t enough to prevent another heavy defeat, this time against St Kilda at the Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon 16.7 (103) to 7 .8 (50).
De Roos held their own in the first half despite being beaten, but the sheet pile finally burst in the third quarter when the Saints scored six to two, sealing the result and moving to fourth on percentage points.
St Kilda now start the season with an 8-3 record as North Melbourne head to Darwin to face Gold Coast Suns in a bid to avoid a 10th consecutive defeat.
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There were no late changes for either side. Ryan Byrnes (St Kilda) and Jack Mahony (North Melbourne) were the medical replacements.
Daniel McKenzie kicked the first goal of the game after shuffling off a tackle and jumping through the 50m arc before finishing cleanly for the Saints.
It was matched by amazing agility from Cameron Zurhaar on the other side, who pushed his way through traffic and scored his 15th goal of the season.
Max King’s extraordinary reach was on display when he took a one-handed shot against Josh Walker and converted the set shot, but again North Melbourne matched it with a great banana from the boundary line.
Seb Ross dodged a tackle from Jason Horne-Francis, then launched a kick from 60 yards that dribbled through the open field as the Saints began to gain a bit of dominance on the scoreboard.
The Saints took an 18-point lead at the first substitution.
The North Melbourne defense came under tremendous pressure in the second quarter but held up admirably despite several missed chances in front of the Saints’ goal.
St Kilda finally got a reward for his effort through Cooper Sharman, who just snuck in a set shot for a goal.
It would prove to be the only goal of the second quarter and led to St Kilda leading by 26 points at halftime.
St Kilda’s forward attack continued into the third quarter, with the hosts creating many chances within 50 and converting three in the first 12 minutes.
North Melbourne could only score one goal during that period, a set shot from Jack Ziebell in his 250th game.
The game broke open after Mitch Owens kicked his first AFL goal, then followed with a goal less than 30 seconds later before coming on the bench, having brought the margin to 52 points.
The Saints finished the third quarter with a 51-point lead.
North Melbourne basically just played for pride in the last quarter as it looked like they were trying to avoid another blowout.
The Roos were able to do that, keeping the game relatively even and hitting the scoreboard to match the Saints and prevent the margin from getting too big.
3) SAINT DUO DESTROY AGAIN
The Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall combo gets a lot of credit and rightly so, but there’s another one sneaking under the radar that might not be after Sunday: Jack Sinclair and Brad Hill.
The pair did well generating a rebound from the defense and it was seen again on Sunday, with the pair helping the Saints score heavily through turnovers.
“This Hill-Sinclair combination has been good for a while, but especially today; 29 divestments each, gained 613 yards for Sinclair and 612 for Hill,” said Brad Johnson in the fourth quarter.
“The two half-backers were incredible and they came out when they had to, they defended well.”
By the end of the game, the numbers were even more stunning; Sinclair finished with 671 meters and Hill 640.
The next best player on the ground in the stat was North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin with 585, while the next Saints player was Mason Wood with 390.
Sinclair made their impact even bigger, finishing with a goal assist, five goals and seven within 50’s of his 32 touches, while Hill had four goals, one goal and one deficit from his 33 disposals.
In themselves they are brilliant games, but together they are just devastating for the opponent.
Rival clubs are going into games that prepare for Ryder and Marshall, but now there’s one more tag team they need to tap into.
2) GREAT OWENS STEALS THE SHOW
Even in his wildest dreams, Mitch Owens certainly couldn’t have imagined that his first two AFL goals would come within 30 seconds.
The Saints flew into the third quarter as they broke away from the Kangaroos, but it was Owens who stole the show – first with a stylish snap bouncing through it, then a thumping kick from the ground hurtling through the goal.
Teammates rightly swarmed around the 18-year-old academy product and the crowd cheered him on as he went bizarrely to the bench!
“You always remember your first goal, it’s fantastic,” Cameron Mooney told Fox Footy three-quarters.
“It was a fantastic moment in his second game and everyone has been around him. He’s walked into the square, everyone is clapping and pumping him up and would you believe it, 30 seconds later the ball has come down and unfortunately something from the guys from the north, but pop off the ground, two goals in 30 seconds. “
Undoubtedly even more impressive, however, was the pressure of pick No.33 – he had 10 tackles in three quarters, and that really threatened skipper Jack Steele’s record of 13 in a game.
‘That’s what you want to see. Yes, he’s scored a few goals, but more importantly, he’s putting pressure on; 10 tackles in three quarters,” Mooney noted.
1) SINGLE FIGHT BUT SAME RESULT FOR ROSE
Not for the first time this season, de Roos showed some struggle in the first half, but were completely blown away in the second.
To their credit they avoided the margin getting too big in the fourth term, but they are now 1-10 and facing the prospect of a 10th straight defeat when they take on Gold Coast next week in Darwin for a much needed farewell.
Early on, there was some promise as de Roos came in and showed a lot of intent around the ball.
“North Melbourne can show that they can compete against quality opponents during the match and use the ball effectively to let go. Their use of the ball was good,” Brad Johnson told Fox Footy.
The problem for the squad, however, was the inability to score at the transition – they generated scores from stoppages, but not much from turnover at all.
“But North’s scores all came from a first half stoppage, while Saints split the scores between stoppage and turnover,” Johnson said.
“Their pressure around the ball is okay but they can’t score the turnover straight away, while St Kilda have a great combination between stoppage and turnover football.
“Football turnover is half behind with Wilkie taking it to Sinclair and Hill and they go to the races.
That difficulty in scoring would have been incredibly frustrating for Nick Larkey as the key striker ended up with just two disposals, while Tristan Xerri also had the same number as he spent more time up front.
In Larkey’s case, Cameron Mooney said the young gun would improve along with the side, but did the right things despite the miserly return.
“I think right now, I’m talking about the footy gods. I believe if you work hard enough it will eventually come,” he said.
“Unfortunately, he is currently in a team that is just having a hard time. As an attacker it is even more difficult. But he works hard, he has a tremendous work pace.
“If he keeps working it will eventually come, if this team gets better he will get his rewards. He just needs to keep his head up and keep working.”
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