At the start of the 2018 Toyota AFL season, North Melbourne was tipped to have a very ‘ordinary’ year and had a team lacked ‘depth’.
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North Melbourne forward Mason Wood has made a stunning return to the AFL, kicking a career-best four goals, including the match-winner, in the Kangaroos’ two-point win over Sydney at the SCG.
Wood showed great tenacity to win the ball, beat a couple of defenders and kick truly to wrestle the lead back from Sydney late in the SCG arm wrestle on Saturday night.
The Swans had two late long distance chances to win but Tom Papley missed a set shot and Dane Rampe kicked out on the full on the run.
Playing in his first game of the season, Wood kicked North’s only two final-quarter goals as the visitors won 9.14 (68) to 9.12 (66).
The Kangaroos and Swans both have a 4-3 record and the game was Sydney’s third home loss in four games this season.
North Melbourne led for much of the game but inaccurate kicking threatened to cruel their chances.
Sydney trailed by eight at the last change but dominated inside 50s early in the final quarter, with goals to Will Hayward and Zak Jones part of an unanswered 14-point surge.
Wood levelled the scores with his third major but a 51m bomb from Jake Lloyd and a behind to Dean Towers pushed Sydney to a seven-point lead.
The Kangaroos notched four straight behinds before Wood, the Roos’ only multiple goalkicker, stepped up.
Shaun Higgins, back from concussion led the way with 32 touches, with Ben Jacobs and Ben Cunnington also getting plenty of ball.
Livewire youngster Hayward kicked three while captain Josh Kennedy tallied 31 touches, including 18 contested possessions, plus nine clearances and nine tackles.
North held the lead for most of the first half, getting up by as much as 14 points in the second quarter.
They scored the first eight points of the game and Sydney the next 12 but North then held sway for much of the rest of the contest.
With Callum Sinclair competing well against Todd Goldstein, Ben Brown was moved into the ruck at times in the second quarter and finished with 1.2.
In his 100th game, Sydney’s Gary Rohan had a quiet night, compiling 10 touches.