North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs: AFL live scores, blog
Andrew Swallow in the NAB Cup (Slattery Images)
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North Melbourne are at Etihad Stadium today, suiting up for a must-win game against a struggling Western Bulldogs outfit that are still searching for a credible victory this year. Join us for live scores and blog from the first bounce at 1.10pm AEST.
In a year where there are twelve teams that seem genuine capable of playing finals football the Kangaroos, at 3-3, can’t afford to drop games against the likes of the Dogs if they are to be one of the eight teams looking to continue on in September.
With two soft wins against the expansions teams, their only victory of note has been in a white-hot performance against Geelong that made the public sit up and concede that this might be a team of some reckoning.
But losses to Essendon, Sydney, and West Coast suggest that the Roos are lagging a bit behind the legitimate premiership fancies, and still need to improve.
This is the first in a three game block that must see North sitting 6-3 at the end of it. After today, they play Port in Adelaide and Brisbane back at this venue.
We still may not have any answers about their credentials, but they will have built confidence and a momentum which could be season defining.
Expect Andrew Swallow to lead the way as ever, and Daniel Wells will need to work hard to continue his remarkable start to the season as he’ll have Liam Picken for company throughout the afternoon.
Drew Petrie is down on form, and may be matched up by Brian Lake, who isn’t. This will allow Aaron Edwards the freedom of playing on the inexperienced Mark Austin, and he’ll be looking to improve his current fifth placing in the race for the Coleman.
Of the youngsters coming through, Jamie MacMillan has caught the eye a couple of times this year, Shaun Atley seems to have gone up a level, and North Melbourne supporters will talk your ear off about how underrated Leigh Adams is, a footballer’s footballer with old-fashioned smarts and a taste for a goal.
We have the expansion teams, GWS and Gold Coast, and the basket-cases of Melbourne, Port and Brisbane sure to fill the bottom five placings on the ladder this year.
For mine, the Dogs come in above these teams, but well below the other twelve, and I think you can lock in a 13th place finish for them as a mathematical certainty.
They can win the ball okay, the Dogs, but converting that possession into goals is where they have been breaking down, and looking from the outside, it was never going to be any other way.
Their main key forward going into the season was Liam Jones, carrying the wealth of 25 games experience.
As expected, he’s struggled as the focal point, and it’s difficult to determine if it’s a blessing or a curse that he’s missing through injury today.
Ryan Griffen is the Bulldogs best player, and only classy game-breaker in the absence of the 2008 version of Adam Cooney. If he can be contained, then they won’t be able to generate enough quality ball inside 50.
Daniel Giansiracusa is the only forward that is consistently dangerous, but he’s easy enough to shut out by sweating on in a purely defensive role.
That Luke Dahlhaus has the grand tally of 17 games to his name and is already one of the Dogs five most important players tells you everything you need to know about this struggling team.
With the difference in the respective defences negligible, North Melbourne has greater depth in the midfield, a more potent attack, and will be far hungrier for the win knowing that their season can amount to something that the Bulldogs’ can not.
This result is going to be a one way street, especially if the Roos can bring the appropriate amount of desire, which I think they will.
North Melbourne by 45 points.
Which way will this one go? Find out from 1.10pm AEST as we cover the action with live scores and up-to-the-minute commentary and if you’re watching, give us your thoughts in the space below.
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Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for in his mind there is nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.
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