We continue on with our AFL preview series today by looking at two of the clubs that parted ways with their coaches in 2019, took on interim replacements and then kept them in charge for 2020 and beyond.
North Melbourne AFL coach Brad Scott took pride in the way his players stood up to their former tormentors St Kilda in a spiteful round-14 clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday night.
North trailed by two points at halftime but kicked 12 goals to St Kilda’s six in the second half to win 21.10 (136) to 15.13 (103).
Scott’s Kangaroos (7-6) hopped into eighth spot, pushing the Saints (6-7) down one place to ninth.
It was another big step forward for North, who have strung together two upset wins in a row after their shock victory over Adelaide last week.
But while midfielders Daniel Wells and Leigh Adams and four-goal forward Drew Petrie were influential, 21-year-old Sam Wright shot to prominence with a fine tagging role on Brendon Goddard.
The Saints had won their past four matches against the Kangaroos and Goddard had averaged over 30 disposals in his past five games against North.
Goddard was held to 20 touches and clashed behind play with Gibson in the final term, decking his opponent with a round-arm swing in an incident which may come under scrutiny from the AFL’s match review panel.
Gibson kicked a goal 10 minutes later and went straight to Goddard to give him a verbal spray.
“We’ve looked up to Brendon Goddard in the past. He’s a super player,” Scott said.
“He can play any position on the ground and that’s really what we’re grooming Sam Wright to do.
“St Kilda have stood over us in the past. Our boys are growing up.
“I’ve probably lamented the fact in the past I feel like the parent in the glass box above Etihad watching their kids get bullied in the school yard.
“But now we’re starting to stand on our own two feet and stand up to the opposition which is really pleasing.”
Scott said it was clear there was plenty of niggle in the game.
“Our boys handled themselves really well. I didn’t think anybody ever lost their temper,” he said.
“I did see it (the clash with Goddard). Sammy came back on and continued to play well so that was terrific.
“Last year Brendon Goddard commented on the fact that Jack Ziebell had cannoned into Nick Riewoldt and ended up getting suspended.
“It’s not my job to comment on opposition players. I’ll just concentrate on my own.”
Riewoldt was also quiet, kicking one goal as he was soundly beaten by North defender Nathan Grima.
Lenny Hayes and David Armitage were among St Kilda’s leading players while the Saints were hampered by injuries to Rhys Stanley (hamstring), Jason Blake (ankle) while key forward Justin Koschitzke struggled with illness and was kick-less.
St Kilda host fourth-placed Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night while the Kangaroos are at home to third-placed West Coast in Hobart earlier on Saturday.
“I hear eight-point game mentioned. From our perspective, every game is critical,” St Kilda coach Scott Watters said.
Watters said Sunday’s loss was a rare example of his midfield being soundly beaten.