Round 21 – North Melbourne V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The Dees caught napping.

After four hard fought wins in the last month, Melbourne could be forgiven the assumption that Round 21 was in the bag. North have been struggling all season and even went down to bottom of the ladder West Coast last week. However, the Dees were surprised by the ferocity of the Roos attack in the first quarter and were on the back foot until midway through the second term.

North Melbourne had a few early chances which only resulted in minor scores, that seemingly didn’t bother the Demons too much.

Then up the other end, Kysaiah Pickett snapped from the pocket and managed to get the ball to land in the square, where it bounced across the goal line. It looked like the perfect start for Melbourne but instead it proved to be the lone highlight of the quarter for the visitors.

The Roos took the lead when veteran Todd Goldstein hit the target from directly in front. Shortly afterwards, Eddie Ford was awarded a free kick in a similar position, which he easily converted.
The young forward had a second less than a minute later, when he marked the ball 30m from goal.

With a fifteen point lead, North increased the pressure on the Dees defence, determined to make the most of their advantage. It paid off again when Bailey Scott took the mark and scored the Roos’ fourth from a 35m set shot.

All the momentum was with the home side and Melbourne was struggling to get back in the game. Even when they made it inside their forward 50, North quickly dealt with the attack and then countered.

The goal tsunami continued with Eddie Ford claiming his hat trick for the quarter when his running kick from 40m sailed through the uprights.

Getting the game back on their terms.

After being blown over by the North Melbourne whirlwind in the first term, the Dees were again unprepared at the start of the second.

Nick Larkey was able to take a contested mark 15m from goal, then go back for an easy set shot. The Roos were now thirty two points up and the shell shocked Melbourne fans could only look on in disbelief at the unfolding carnage. Nothing seemed to be going right for the Dees, with normally gettable shots going astray.

Finally though, Melbourne started to wake from the nightmare and make inroads towards scoring more goals. Kozzie Pickett had been threatening to get a second and he eventually did, in spectacular style. After picking up the ground ball, he found enough space to run, turn and snap cleanly, breaking the drought.

Harrison Petty showed last week that he can be a prolific marker and scorer in front of goal when the opportunity presents. This week he also showed that he can confidently take on the difficult kicks. His set shot from a tough angle, deep in the pocket was perfectly executed and the Demons were back in contention.

Melbourne was definitely in the ascendancy, but the Kangaroos bounced back briefly when Paul Curtis was able to get a boot to the loose ball in the goal square. The lead was back out to twenty eight points.

Thirty seconds later, it was back to twenty two when Alex Neal-Bullen, who never lets an opportunity go to waste, was able to tap in the wayward sherrin, as it bounced across his path.

The tide had well and truly turned. Now Melbourne were creating chances as a result of their elevated pressure and Kade Chandler was presented with one such scenario when he marked Ed Langdon’s centering kick. Chandler’s 45m set shot was perfect, further reducing the margin to sixteen points.

There was a hiccup in Melbourne’s renaissance when Todd Goldstein was awarded a 50m penalty, gifting him an easy scoring opportunity, which he converted.

However Chandler was again on hand to redress the balance a minute later, when he marked in the pocket and made no mistakes with the 40m set shot.

Pickett was having one of those games. His third goal was a combination of natural ability and technical brilliance. Having received the ball, he twisted and turned, wrong footing the defence, before kicking from 30m, deep in the pocket. After being thirty three points down twenty minutes earlier, Melbourne was now only trailing by ten, and there was still fifty seconds to go.

When Jacob van Rooyen ran out to mark the kick from James Jordan, there was fifteen seconds left on the clock, The young forward went back and waited for the siren to sound, then ran up and calmly slotted the 50m set shot.

The Demons assert themselves.

The second half started with Melbourne very much in control. However, it took the visitors almost fifteen minutes to score the opening goal, which they did when Harrison Petty took another mark deep in the left hand pocket.

The next major followed only a couple of minutes later when Christian Petracca marked a Pickett kick, 25m directly in front. Petracca had his second when he took a dramatic hanging mark in the pocket. His around the corner set shot was clinical. It was seven in a row for the Dees when Alex Neal-Bullen launched from the 50m arc, watching the ball dropped behind the goal line.

The Roos finally managed to momentarily stem the Demon tide when Jy Simpkin marked on the 50m line and converted his set shot.

It was a brief respite however, as van Rooyen was awarded a kick near the top of the square and kicked his second.  Alex Neal-Bullen then celebrated his trip to the Apple Isle with a 35m running kick, claiming his hat trick in the process.

Melbourne wrap it up in a low scoring final quarter.

Again, the opening ten minutes of the last term saw no goals added to the scoreline. As it happened, it was the Roos who kicked the opener when Curtis Taylor collected the ground ball and snapped from 20m to the left of goal.

In fact it took Melbourne nearly twenty five minutes to kick their only goal of the quarter when Kade Chandler’s set shot from 45m brought up his own hat trick.

Unfortunately Harrison Petty had to be subbed out due to an ankle injury which has ended his season, just when he was settling into his new role as goal kicker supreme. He will be sorely missed when our finals campaign starts but we have a depth of talent in the squad that can take on any challenge.

Next round it’s the resurgent Blues. Bring them on!

Go the Mighty Dees!!!