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It’s a Good Friday clash between two teams that see themselves as contending for the flag, with the North Melbourne Kangaroos taking on the Essendon Bombers, live from Marvel Stadium. Join The Roar from 4:20pm for live scores and blog of the game.
If these two sides were matching up just last week, you might have predicted the Bombers to win by 50.
But after last week’s stirring effort by the Kangaroos to triumph over Adelaide, now, would you say instead Bombers to win by 20?
I didn’t realise Brad Scott has been coaching North Melbourne for almost 10 years now – this season being his tenth year.
In many ways, Scott still seems like the up-and-coming new face on the coaching scene, yet he has amassed 200+ games in the coaches’ box, and has managed to win 103 of them.
The point being that it does not make sense why this team does not perform better under the Brad Scott method, because it is not like they haven’t had a lot of time to get it together.
On many more ways though, the Roos seemed to get it together against the Crows last week, playing that disciplined, tough, but importantly consistent brand of footy across four quarters, to earn them an important and thoroughly deserved win.
Certainly, while one win does not a season make, but for North they will be wanting to build on last week’s win and kick-on for the season.
For North to win today, the key will be their midfield stepping up.
Jared Polec, Shaun Higgins, and Trent Dumont will need to stop the flow of ball flying through the Bombers mids, so as to cut the supply to the likes of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti.
Todd Goldstein will also be someone with eyes on him, due to the Roos coming into this contest with fewer average clearances than their opponent.
To stop the Bombers mids, winning possession from those crucial stoppages will be vital, and Goldstein should like his chances against Tom Bellchambers.
Curiously, the Roos have averaged far more possessions per game this season than the Bombers, and in that may be the key, by denying the Bombers the ball and controlling the play, they can stifle their opponent.
As for the Bombers, surely the week from John Worsfold was spent saying to his players: know what you all did well against the Lions, repeat.
The ferocity and pinpoint accuracy with which the Bombers dismantled the Lions last week was quite scry to watch, as their mids dominated possession, but more importantly their forwards were as clinical as a surgeon.
While the Bombers won’t be looking to McDonald-Tipungwuti again to repeat last week’s haul (and that is not to say he can’t do it, you just can’t expect that of him), what will give Worsfold confidence going into the match is that his other forwards Matt Guelfi, Mitch Brown, and Mark Baguley all look like they are ready and waiting to do their part.
That statistic between these two sides coming into this contest could be the key: the Bombers average 62 tackles a game this year, while the Roos are averaging 50.
So not only can the Bombers be clinical in attack, but they know how to stop their opponent.
North Melbourne have a relatively good track record against the Bombers, having won three out of the last five, however the Bombers have been the victors in the last two.
Bombers looking like they are in the kind of form to make it three in a row, both against North, and for this season.
How can you not tip a team that destroyed their opponent last week with a display of free-flowing, fearsome, and unrelenting footy that made all and sundry stand up?
The Bombers in full flight is a sight to behold, and at present, you just can’t see where the Kangaroos will be able to completely stop the Dons.
Essendon by 20.
When: Friday, 19 April 2019, at 4:20pm
Where: Marvel Stadium
TV: Channel 7, Fox Footy, AFL app and live streaming
Betting: Roos $2.15, Bombers $1.70, Line 5.5 $1.91
B Jamie Macmillan, Robbie Tarrant, Jasper Pittard
HB Sam Wright, Scott D. Thompson, Shaun Atley
C Jared Polec, Shaun Higgins, Trent Dumont
HF Aaron Hall, Jack Ziebell, Mason Wood
F Kayne Turner, Ben Brown, Cameron Zurhaar
FOL Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Jed Anderson
I/C Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jy Simpkin, Paul Ahern, Bailey Scott
EMG Nathan Hrovat, Nick Larkey, Tarryn Thomas, Tom Campbell
B Jordan Ridley, Patrick Ambrose, Conor McKenna
HB Andrew McGrath, Michael Hurley, Adam Saad
C David Zaharakis, Zach Merrett, Mason Redman
HF Darcy Parish, Zac Clarke, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
F Matt Guelfi, Mitch Brown, Mark Baguley
FOL Tom Bellchambers, Orazio Fantasia, Dylan Shiel
I/C Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, David Myers, Jake Stringer
EMG Kyle Langford, Aaron Francis, Brayden Ham, Sam Draper