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North Melbourne must face the best side in the competition in Melbourne in a Saturday afternoon clash that is expected to turn ugly for David Noble’s men. Join The Roar for live scores and rolling coverage from 4:35pm (AEST).
After a bright end to 2021, the start of 2022 has made for ugly reading for the Kangaroos.
With just one win from nine starts, and five consecutive losses of 50 points or more – the latest a 69-point shellacking at the hands of Port Adelaide – the Roos are somehow moving backwards from last year’s wooden spoon, and pressure is beginning to mount on Noble.
North have made a statement at the selection table, with boom recruit Callum Coleman-Jones and former Magpies Rising Star winner Jaidyn Stephenson both omitted among four changes. The returns should at least bolster the midfield, with number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, reigning best and fairest Jy Simpkin and the hard-tackling Hugh Greenwood, as well as ruckman Tristan Xerri, returning from their various injuries and illnesses.
The Demons, meanwhile, have now gone 16 games without defeat, a streak including their grand final win last year and the first nine rounds of this season.
It means for the second year in a row, the Dees have started 9-0, and while that streak ended in Round 10 last year against Adelaide, it’s looking seriously unlikely that the Roos can stop them moving to double digits.
Hamstring injuries have ruled tough midfielders James Harmes and Jack Viney out of the match, so the Dees’ midfield brigade will look slightly different. But with Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca still leading the way, and captain Max Gawn in All Australian form, their absences can easily be covered.
B: K. Turner, A. Corr, L. McDonald
HB: B. Scott, J. Walker, L. Young
C: H. Greenwood, L. Davies-Uniacke, F. Perez
HF: J. Horne-Francis, N. Larkey, P. Curtis
F: J. Ziebell (c), C. Zurhaar, J. Anderson
FOLL: T. Goldstein, J. Simpkin, T. Thomas
I/C: C. Taylor, T. Powell, K. Hayden, T. Xerri
EMG: J. Stephenson, A. Bosenavulagi, C. Coleman-Jones, J. Archer
IN: Greenwood, Horne-Francis, Simpkin, Xerri
OUT: Bosenavulagi, Coleman-Jones, Mahony, Stephenson
B: T. Rivers, H. Petty, J. Hunt
HB: J. Jordon, S. May, J. Lever
C: E. Langdon, L. Dunstan, T. Sparrow
HF: A. Neal-Bullen, B. Brown, C. Petracca
F: B. Fritsch, L. Jackson, T. McDonald
FOLL: M. Gawn (c), C. Oliver, K. Pickett
I/C: C. Spargo, A. Brayshaw, J. Bowey, J. Melksham
EMG: T. Bedford, B. Laurie, A. Tomlinson, S. Weideman
IN: Melksham, Dunstan
OUT: Viney, Harmes