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Oppo analysis: R5

Last time we met: North Melbourne R21, 2017 Watch the highlights from the last time we played the Roos

The line up

B Scott D. Thompson, Robbie Tarrant, Marley Williams
HB Jamie Macmillan, Majak Daw, Ed Vickers-Willis
C Luke McDonald, Trent Dumont, Billy Hartung
HF Shaun Higgins, Jarrad Waite, Jed Anderson
F Jack Ziebell, Ben Brown, Shaun Atley
FOL Todd Goldstein, Ben Jacobs, Ben Cunnington
I/C Luke Davies-Uniacke, Ryan Clarke, Kayne Turner, Jy Simpkin, Ben McKay, Sam Wright, Will Walker, Cameron Zurhaar (Three to be omitted)
Ben McKay, Sam Wright, Will Walker, Cameron Zurhaar
Will Walker 

Read: Hawthorn's Round 5 squad announced

What to expect

North Melbourne have won two out of their opening four games of the 2018 season, but they would be kicking themselves they hadn’t had won one or two more.

Yet to face a side that played finals in 2017, the Kangaroos have had a relatively soft draw throughout their opening month. 

But it has been their skill level and ability to look after the ball when in their possession that has let them down. 

Having recorded the third-most clangers in the competition so far, North also have the second-worst disposal efficiency, hitting their targets only 64.8% of the time.

Brad Scott’s side is struggling to win possession too: having more disposals this season than only two other sides and averaging more marks than only one.

The Kangaroos seem to have identified that skill level isn’t a strong suit of their outfit this year, instead opting for a highly contested game-style. 

They rank in the top five across the league in contested possessions, tackles and one-percenters.

Similarly, their outstanding strength this year has been their ability to limit their opposition’s scoring.

Opposition sides have scored just 251 points against North through the first month, an average of 62.8 per game, the least points scored against any side in the game.

Expect North Melbourne not to blow Hawthorn away with a high-paced, free-flowing mode of play but rather try to turn this clash into a grind from contest-to-contest.

The Hawks will be forced to outwork the Roos if they want to register their fourth win of the season.


Players to watch

Only Lance Franklin has kicked more goals than Ben Brown so far this season. North Melbourne’s leading goal kicker for the previous two years, Brown is a difficult match-up given his agility for a man of his two-metre stature. The 25-year old ranks fifth in the league for contested marks, with an average of two per game. Having failed to hit the scoreboard in his side’s opening round loss to Gold Coast, Brown’s 15 goals since sees him as one of the most in-form players of the competition right now. 

Shaun Higgins is North Melbourne’s leading possession-getter over the first month of the season, averaging 25.8 disposals. Despite recently celebrating his 30th birthday, Higgins’ form doesn’t seem to be on the decline just yet, with this possession rate the highest it has been over his 13-year career. With news that Higgins may miss this weekend’s clash against the Hawks for the birth of his first child, Hawks fans will be hoping that this is the case, as the classy midfielder is an integral element to the Kangaroos’ midfield mix.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs