North v Blues: Preview with the lot

North Melbourne v CarltonNorth fade-outs a minute-by-minute challengeWhy North (and other teams) can’t stop the rotMalthouse on the offensive over the defensive
杭州桑拿

IN A NUTSHELL

If it’s close, recent history says North will find a way to lose. If North wins, it ought to be by a healthy margin.

BIG INNorth Melbourne welcomes back Coleman Medal contender Lindsay Thomas after two weeks suspension. He has kicked 19 goals from five games against the Blues, including a match-winning haul of seven in 2010.

LAST TIMENorth Melbourne 6.1 12.2 19.4 24.5 (149) Carlton 3.4 6.9 9.9 14.12 (96) Goals: North Melbourne: Petrie 7, Hansen 4, Harper 3, Thomas 3, Swallow, Harvey, Wells, Adams, Bastinac, Tarrant, Atley. Carlton: Judd 3, Armfield 2, Betts 2, Carrazzo, McLean, Yarran, Garlett, Murphy, Robinson, Duigan. Best: North Melbourne: Petrie, Wells, Swallow, Ziebell, Adams, Goldstein, Harper, Hansen, Atley. Carlton: Judd, Collins, Robinson, Scotland, Carrazzo “… A Kangaroos team that barely beat the Gold Coast and was taken apart by the Western Bulldogs, demolished Carlton in a manner that was redolent of what the club did in Wayne Carey’s prime.”Jake Niall, July 14, 2012

LAST FIVE2008 – Rnd 20 Roos by 512009 – Rnd 18 Blues by 102010 – Rnd 12 Roos by 292011 – Rnd 19 Blues by 192012 – Rnd 16 Roos by 53

YOU CAN BET ON ITNorth Melbourne $1.77Carlton $2.10Carlton has trailed at quarter time in each of the past four games between the two sides.North Melbourne tends to start well and fade out, or win by a healthy margin.

So two quarter-quads beckon:North to lead and falter, narrowly – 1,2,3,4,/1,2,3/1,2,9/9,10North to blitz, and keep going – 1,2,3,4/3,4,5/,3,4,5,6/,3,4,5,6,7

THE RECENT FORMLINEThe Blues have arrested a by now familiar mid-season slump with a solid, if unspectacular 36-point win over the battling Saints. North is reeling after yet another close loss (to the Lions by 12 points) after having held a strong lead. But the previous week, they smashed a complacent Richmond, leading throughout at this venue to win by ten goals.

VENUENorth have recorded five of their six 2013 wins at Etihad Stadium. They are 5-3 this year there. They have won eight of their past ten matches there against Carlton, and lead them overall 10-3 at Docklands. Carlton is 3-3 at Etihad this season. It has a horrendous 34-61 record at Docklands.

ROOS WIN: The Vo RogueThe coach says nothing will change in the short-term, so the only way we can see a win occurring is by the typical North method –  jump out hard, run Carlton off its legs, grab a big lead, and capitalise when Carlton fluffs a couple of opportunities to inch back within striking distance. One more surge puts the front-runners so far in front they can’t be run down. Don’t bother scratching a mark on your TAB card beneath 39 points.

The Vo Rogue method: run them off their legs, and go as hard as you can for as long as you can. (It tends to open up big margins.)

BLUES WIN The Slow GrindJumped by the fast-moving Roos, the Blues regroup and by half-time trail narrowly. The rejuvenated Chris Judd, recovered Marc Murphy, and resurgent Andrew Carazzo lead a midfield/centre bounce blitz, and the small forwards burn North playmakers trying to set up from the back. It leaves the dangerous North forwards without enough opportunities. Spanking 17-point win to the gradually building Blues.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MIDFIELDNorth Melbourne and Carlton rank first and third respectively for clearance differentials this season. With tall targets such as Aaron Black and Drew Petrie, North will be desperate to get the ball out of the clinches as quickly as possible. The Blues will want a grittier, more methodical pace of ball movement. The stoppages will be more crucial than ever in determining this result.

North MelbourneRotation: Swallow, Gibson, Wells, Bastinac, Cunnington, Adams, Ziebell, Harvey, Greenwood, Hine, McKenzie. Rebounders: Mullett, AtleyRanked #1 for disposal efficiency, North Melbourne obviously moves the ball cleanly from defence and through its midfield. Andrew Swallow, Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington are big-bodied stoppage beasts who have led North to the best clearance differential in the league. And Todd Goldstein and Swallow are the second-best ruck-rover combination in the league, with 33 clearances. This unit has size, ferocity, pace and skill – in particular from Brent Harvey and Daniel Wells – depth, and lively rebounding flankers in Atley and Mullett. Its hard to see how North has managed to lose nine games when you examine its engine room.CarltonRotation: Judd, McLean, Simpson, Murphy, Gibbs, Lucas, Curnow, Cachia, Carrazzo. Rebounders: Walker, Tuohy, Scotland.Judd has worked hard but lacked his usual dynamism; Murphy has struggled since his facial fracture and Carrazzo was subbed out last week in his second game after a seven-game layoffis also working his way back after a long layoff. That’s the blue-chip portion of the Blues set-up. But Judd was sparkier last week, and the latter two will be improved. Malthouse has accepted a more defensive set-up in his midfield in the absence of his A-graders, and the quality rebound from defence offered by Andrew Walker Heath Scotland and Zach Tuohy. A group with the potential to again form a potent force.

Former North rover Mark Arceri saved Carlton some blushes by booting its only goal in the last quarter of its clash against the Dogs at the Western Oval in June 1991. Final score: 8.9 (57) to 1.10 (16). There still would have been some blushes.

IRRELEVANT BUT NOTEWORTHYNorth inflicted the biggest loss on Carlton in its illustrious history, a 124 points thrashing in the final round of 2003. And the Blues kicked five goals in the final term!North beat Carlton at Coburg in round 15, 1965, by booting only six majors in front of 11,474 fans. Neither team managed a goal in the final term. Our guess is that a bit of a breeze blew through the northern suburbs that day – the Blues managed a total of two points in three quarters!

North Melbourne 4.0 (24), 4.1 (25), 6.3 (39), 6.8 (44)Carlton 0.1 (1), 5.1 (31), 5.1 (31), 5.2 (32)

This 1975 snap of Roos champ Barry Cable with sons Shane (left) and Barry training in Coburg is the closest we could get to a pic of the ground the Kangaroos played at in 1965. HISTORY IS NOT BUNK

St Kilda and North Melbourne players are unlikely to know about Carlton’s attempts to take over their clubs in the 1990s, and less likely to care.

Modern players, recruited from around the country, form bonds first with team-mates, and secondly with their clubs. Few recruits know much about the history of their new team, and its less famous rivalries and myths.

Yet those ill-fated ‘merger’ attempts forged a fire in the belly of the smaller clubs at the time, and in the past two decades, the Saints and Roos became bogey teams for the Blues.

When Carlton president, John Elliott attempted to take over and merge with North Melbourne.

St Kilda has won 16 of 19 matches against Carlton since 2002. North Melbourne has gone 18/6 since 1996. As the traditionally ‘weaker’ clubs entered strong eras, they defined themselves, at least a little, by overturning their records against teams that had previously dominated them, like the Blues.

Carlton’s takeover attempts were either canny opportunism, or reprehensible, arrogant chicanery, depending on your point of view.

The details are unknown to many, forgotten by others. But footy culture is mysterious and insidious. Rivalries survive the turnover of a club’s list. Fans don’t forget which teams they most like to defeat, and their anger, pain and passion seeps through the walls of the dressing room, no matter how ignorant the players. No matter how determined coaches are to smother any such intangible “one-percenters”.

And players have muscle memory of teams they do well against. A winning run evolves from such confidence.

North Melbourne generally turns it on against Carlton.

The last time these teams met, almost exactly a year ago, they were both on 28 points and fighting desperately for a position in the eight. Carlton was ninth, North Melbourne eleventh. Despite coming off a morale-boosting win over highly-ranked arch-rival Collingwood, Carlton was hammered from go to whoa by North Melbourne, eventually succumbing by 53 points, despite laying more tackles and winning more clearances.

A year on, Carlton is ninth, North Melbourne 11th, and both teams are fighting desperately for a position in the eight.

The teams share more than that coincidence: North Melbourne’s average losing margin is the third-lowest of any side; Carlton’s is the fourth-lowest.

Roo stalwart Mick Martyn played the last year of his career with the Blues under long-time coach Denis Pagan. It still doesn’t look right.

Carlton are already exhibiting the hallmark consistency and competitiveness of Malthouse teams, rarely winning or losing by more than a handful of goals, the only exceptions being their oddly listless 41-point round 15 loss to the Pies, and regulation wins by bigger margins against GWS, Melbourne at its lowest ebb, and last week’s six-goal margin over the Saints.

Former North Melbourne dual premiership coach Denis Pagan bore the brunt of Carlton’s dark ages when in charge of the Blues, winning just 25 of 77 matches between 2003 and 2007.

Question marks remain over Carlton’s scoring power and the penetration of its big name midfield, but North Melbourne, psychically wounded by its habit of giving up big leads and suffering close losses, is unlikely to get away with a front-running blow-out against the dogged Blues in such a crucial game so close to the finals.

North has similar form lines to Carlton – its heaviest losses have been to quality sides, Fremantle and Sydney, but still by less than 40 points, and its biggest wins have been against the stragglers, with the 62-point belting of Richmond two games ago the only exception. Every other contest has been agonisingly close, usually involving the sacrifice of a strong lead.

Coach Brad Scott says he knows what much change to arrest these alarming fade-outs, but it will take time. With hard nuts at stoppages, such as Jack Ziebell and Andrew Swallow, and inexperience no longer an excuse elsewhere, it is an exasperating conundrum for Roos fans not in the know.

For tipsters and punters, logic favours a tight game. But given the inability of either team to get the job done in such circumstances, tipping a draw might make sense. 

The week after its famous defeat of flag favourite Essendon in the 1999 preliminary final, Carlton came a cropper against North Melbourne in the grand final.FOOLISH FRIDAY FORECASTS 

TIPPING TIP:Best chance of an underdog upset: Carlton, (see above) Fremantle are false underdogs. They have played withour Pavlich all season, and can crush the life out of the Tiger midfield. West Coast are playing well, pushing quality opposition whilst undermanned. They could get an injection of three key midfielders at the same time as Sydney loses Ben McGlynn to suspension. They are already missing Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Rhyce Shaw, Adam Goodes, Sam Reid and Lewis Jetta.

WHEN IN DOUBT, TRUST THE LADDER:

St Kilda ($2.05) have a good recent record against Port Adelaide ($1.80), but top-eight incumbent Power have it all to play for at Etihad Stadium against St Kilda. They also have a vibrant, young midfield and genuine tall targets up forward. The odds look a little tight.

The darkest day in the Carlton/North Melbourne history was the ‘Battle of Britain’, when violence broke out at a post-season match in London in 1987. Donald McDonald [NM], Adrian Gleeson [C] and Alistair Clarkson [NM] indulge.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


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