The last qualifying match of the NAB Cup action sees North Melbourne taking on the Western Bulldogs at Eureka Stadium. Join us for live scores and a blog of all the action from the first bounce at 3.40pm AEDT this afternoon.
This game is now a dead rubber, with the Eagles and Crows already having booked their spots in the final next weekend, but there is still plenty of interest in today’s game.
Realistically, no more than one of these two teams have a chance of breaking into the top eight this season, with most pundits viewing North Melbourne as having the better chance.
North coach Brad Scott would definitely be viewing this season as a breakthrough one for the Kangaroos, while the first time coach for the Bulldogs, Brendan McCartney, is overseeing a process change for his charges to put them back on track in catching up with the leading clubs.
In the first round of NAB Cup matches, McCartney wouldn’t have been too pleased with the Bulldogs falling in over the line against the youthful GWS and then failing against a second string Collingwood outfit.
However, last weekend, the Bulldogs were able to turn around that effort with an improved attack on the footy that saw them defeat Carlton in what was a hard, keenly contested pre-season game.
Will Minson showed a bit as the resting ruckman up forward, and much will be expected of Jordan Roughead with the move of veteran ruckman, Ben Hudson, to the Lions this season.
Brian Lake showed last weekend that he was close to returning to his best, good news for all Bulldog fans, but it remains to be seen whether Adam Cooney can follow suit.
Fantasy league pundits will also be keeping an eye on last year’s father-son selections: Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis, while Zeph Skinner remains a bit of a wildcard.
For North, they have a couple of big guns ready to fire. Todd Goldstein is looking to follow up a terrific season last year, while Drew Petrie made a return from injury last year and will be looking to hit top form early on in the season.
Robbie Tarrant, younger brother of Chris Tarrant, must just about be due for a break through season, having had an injury riddled career since being drafted in 2006.
Brett Harvey is in the twilight of his career, but still managed to produce the goods last season, while new captain, Andrew Swallow, is set to lead by example in the middle of the park.
The other interest in today’s game is the venue, North Ballarat, being one that has been explored by the wandering Kangaroos for future games, so the level of support they attract today will be under scrutiny.
Who goes into the AFL season proper on a high note? Find out in the final round-robin game of the NAB Cup this afternoon. We’ll be covering the action from the beginning at 3.40pm AEDT. If you’re watching, leave us your opinion in the space below.