NORTH MELBOURNE 6.2 10.4 13.5 18.9 (117)GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.4 4.8 8.12 8.13 (61)GOALS North Melbourne: Nahas 4, MacMillan 3, Waite 3, Petrie 2, Higgins 2, Brown, Cunnington, Harvey, Atley. Greater Western Sydney: Palmer 3, Stewart 2, McCarthy, Cameron, Griffen.BEST North Melbourne: Higgins, Goldstein, Dal Santo, Nahas, Petrie. Greater Western Sydney: Griffen, Ward, Palmer, McCarthy, Shaw.Injuries: North Melbourne: R Tarrant (thumb). Greater Western Sydney: T Scully (illness, replaced in the selected side by Z Williams).Reports: North Melbourne: A Swallow for tripping J Kelly in the third quarter.UMPIRES Findlay, Rosebury, Mitchell.CROWD 7824 at Spotless Stadium.
Greater Western Sydney showed there is life beyond their legion of injured stars, but all the fight they could muster was not enough to topple a hardened North Melbourne at Spotless Stadium, going down by 56 points.
The big challenge was for the Giants to prove themselves without key personnel Shane Mumford, Joel Patfull, Phil Davis and Stephen Coniglio, who they forfeited to injury in the loss last round to Collingwood. That challenge became bigger when Tom Scully went down ill during the week and replacement ruckman Andrew Phillips was withdrawn due to soreness.
It meant six changes, including debuts to Jack Steele and Caleb Marchbank, leaving the experience differential between the teams 82 games per player or, as Cameron pointed out afterwards, about five years’ experience.
The Kangaroos exposed the gap immediately flying to a 28-point lead at the first break. But the Giants stemmed the flow over the next two terms, losing the second by four to trail 64-32 at half-time and kicking four goals to three in the third to leave the gap at the last break at 23 points.
It gave the small crowd of 7824 the hint that something special was on. However, the Kangaroos called on their experience and stepped up a gear in the last, producing a five-goal blitz to ensure the points.
A key statistic was in the ruck, where Todd Goldstein — sporting stitches to a shiner after running into friendly fire nearing half-time — amassed a record 80 hit outs against a gallant but outgunned Rory Lobb.
“Goldy’s just having a tremendous season,” North Melbourne interim coach Darren Crocker said. “We thought we could get an advantage in the ruck because of form he’s been in and with GWS losing Mumford … But you’ve still got to do it and Goldy was able to do that tonight. He gave our midfielders first use, hit outs to advantage, got the ball going our way.”
It was a tough afternoon for Lobb, but Cameron praised the third-gamer, saying he “fought tooth and nail”. Instead, he pointed the finger at the midfielders’ poor efforts around the centre bounce. He was also frustrated with the inaccuracy and lack of poise in front of goal.
“For most of the game up until three-quarter time, other than the starts of quarters, I thought our intensity was terrific,” Cameron said. “But when you don’t execute and don’t hit the scoreboard, it deflates our young boys and that’s what happened. All of a sudden the floodgates opened in the last 20 minutes of the game.”
Robin Nahas kicked four goals for North Melbourne and Jamie Macmillan, Jarrad Waite, Shaun Higgins and Drew Petrie kicked 10 between them. Higgins, Goldstein, Petrie and top possession-gatherer Nick Dal Santo were among their best, while Ben Jacobs kept GWS star Dylan Shiel to just 11 touches. Andrew Swallow was reported for tripping Josh Kelly in the third quarter.
For the Giants, Ryan Griffen, Callan Ward and Adam Treloar were among their best. Rhys Palmer kicked three goals and James Stewart two. But the result was rarely in doubt.
“I thought our start was tremendous,” Crocker said. “And then we were challenged in the third quarter and probably a little bit sloppy with things. In the last quarter the guys responded and kicked away.”
Both sides now have a bye.
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