Last month I started my 2019 AFL preview, detailing the competitive prospects of six of the competition’s teams, from Adelaide to Fremantle.
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North Melbourne have defeated a terrible St Kilda outfit by 52 points in a scrappy game on Good Friday – a match that was, at times, difficult to watch.
Most pundits were almost unanimously predicting a comfortable win for the Saints, while suggesting North would struggle after their tough trip to Queensland last week. This game, at times, affirmed the latter while conclusively rubbishing the former.
The first half wasn’t pretty, or accurate, or what you’d describe as good football.
North, from the onset, looked determined, but despite having three early shots for goal in as many minutes, couldn’t nail any of their set shots.
The Saints snatched the lead through a goal through Jake Carlisle, but they too began to struggle with goal kicking.
If I’m truthful, both teams began to struggle with kicking full stop. This is a trend that continued through the second quarter – North added two goals, the Saints one more, but at one stage the teams combined for seven consecutive behinds, a North goal, then four more behinds.
The scores were deadlocked at 22 all at half time.
The third quarter was a fork in the road for the teams – they’d either continue with the diabolically low standard of the first, or the game would begin to open up.
I was thinking the team to break away would be the Saints, but I was so very wrong. North’s first few minutes of the third quarter would’ve pleased the strong contingent of fans within Ethiad, booting 3.3 in seven minutes.
The Saints rallied with a trio of goals, but the quarter belonged to the hosts, and they took a 12-point lead into the final break.
All of North’s early problems evaporated in the fourth, absolutely pulverizing the Saints in a terrible quarter from the “potential finalists”. Seven goals to nil, and they took a 52-point lead as the final siren blew.
Winners for the Saints were far and few between. Jimmy Webster (30), David Armitage (27), Jack Steven (26) and Shane Savage (26) accumulated a fair bit of the footy, while Steven tried hard all day and added a goal.
Blake Acres scored a sensational goal – potentially best of the day – in the midst of North’s third-quarter onslaught, but there’s not much else. It was just a poor, poor day for the Saints.
North, however, would be delighted with most of the day – barring their rubbish accuracy in the first half.
Billy Hartung, Jarrad Waite and Shaun Higgins (24 touches each) were plentiful, whiet Ben Brown (6 goals and 11 touches) was excellent – probably going to get the full allotment of votes in the Charlie.
Luke Davies-Uniacke with 16 disposals outshined his Saints youngster counterpart in Hunter Clark (7).
St Kilda hosts the Crows at home next weekend, which would make them very, very nervous I imagine. North head to the MCG to play the Demons, which suddenly becomes intriguing.
North Melbourne 13.17 (95)
St Kilda 6.13 (43)