Fight night: St Kilda’s Brendon Goddard and North’s Leigh Adams get physical.NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 9.3 13.5 21.10 (136) ST KILDA 6.2 9.5 10.11 15.13 (103) GOALS St Kilda: Armitage 2, Steven 2, Hayes 2, Montagna 2, Milne 2, Schneider, McEvoy, Gram, Riewoldt, Milera. North Melbourne: Petrie 4, Hansen 3, Thomas 3, Wells 2, Adams 2, Swallow, Harvey, Macmillan, Harper, Bastinac, Tarrant, Wright. BEST St Kilda: Hayes, Armitage, Steven, McEvoy, Schneider, Geary, Montagna. North Melbourne: Wells, Adams, Petrie, Grima, Swallow, Goldstein, Bastinac. UMPIRES T Pannell, B Rosebury, J Bannister. CROWD 33,106, at Etihad Stadium.
BRENT Harvey seldom had the ball yesterday but on one of the occasions he did, he shaped to kick a set shot for goal from long range then feinted at the last moment and searched out Lindsay Thomas with a short pass. Thomas was 30 metres out and directly in front. For Thomas this year, that is an awful scenario.
The Roos had just recovered the lead after falling 26 points behind in the second quarter and Thomas had the ball in hand. This was the sort of moment that has summed up North’s year – unpredictable and uncertain even to themselves. Thomas has been the Dark Shark of football in recent years, the goalkicker who has forgotten how to kick goals. So it was an act of blind faith or muscular leadership for Harvey to find him with the ball. It was a moment of triumph for Thomas that he kicked the goal. The measure of how acutely he felt the fear of failure was measured by his celebration, and how keenly his teammates empathised with him, indicated by the mobbing he received afterwards.
It was not all about the fact the goal stretched North’s lead, for in the last quarter, as the game began to blow out to North, Thomas had another set shot. This one was harder, further out and with less gap between the goals. He kicked it and celebrated to himself the whole way to the bench.
That was what it meant to him to unburden the monkey from his back. It was similarly a moment of relief and release for the Roos to validate their form of last week over Adelaide and in doing so confirm their place in the eight, clear by a game from other challengers. The most notable challenger was their opponent yesterday, St Kilda, the side they displaced from the eight.
North began like a dog loosened from a chain, running and flipping balls back and forth and had two goals before St Kilda had caught a breath. It is such an aggressive, fast and attacking style that when it links and works it is crisp and punishing, but it also always leaves the door open for error.
A James Gwilt fist roping in and poking the ball out of the grip of Drew Petrie and denying a certain third unanswered goal kick-started the Saints who goaled from that forward thrust and set about their run of six out of seven goals to round out the term with Jack Steven and David Armitage around the ball winning clearances and closing the Roos run down. When Stephen Milne kicked the first goal of the second term the Saints led by 26 points.
But their goals were coming from midfielders and flanker Nick Riewoldt had kicked only one and was being closely watched by Nathan Grima, manning him after Scott Thompson was a late withdrawal from the side, and Justin Koschitzke was unsighted.
All the while though Daniel Wells had been interposing in play with a critical touch here or there such as his quick kick to Lachie Hansen to kick the first of what was to be a run of nine of the next 11 goals. Drew Petrie was presenting at every contest, crashing a pack, bringing down a mark and looking throughout the twilight the most threatening player on the ground.
By half-time there was a whisker in the match. Critically two things happened: Rhys Stanley, who had been his athletic mobile best, loping around linking as importantly deep back as deep forward, went off with a hamstring and was immediately substituted out. Then Jason Blake suffered a crack on his ankle and limped to the boundary. As the quarter drew on Koschitzke was sighted down the race vomiting – his three handballs, no kicks and no marks to three-quarter-time clearly not the only thing making him feel green; the player was plainly unwell and in other circumstances would not have still been out there.
So at the final change two goals split the teams but the Saints had four players sitting on the bench, but two of them would not be able to come back on – one who shouldn’t come back on but did and one more rotating spot.
Lenny Hayes tried as he might to will the Saints into the contest in the last term but they tired and North was rampant.
Leigh Adams, industrious all day, Ryan Bastinac and Jack Ziebell had North surging over the Saints with eight goals to five in the shootout final quarter.
With what they were left with on the bench, the Saints can be content that they got so close.
DOUBLE IT UP
There was feeling in this match with off-ball scuffles but none as punishing as just on half-time when Jarryn Geary arrived late with a spoil on Andrew Swallow and punched him in the head. That drew a 50-metre penalty and brought Swallow to the 50-metre line. Another scuffle erupted and Stephen Milne’s grappling with Michael Firrito drew a second 50 and a certain goal.
NOT SO FAST
Ahmed Saad had eyes only for goal and Michael Firrito only eyes for Saad. Saad was scooting around the boundary and figured he could get past Firrito and through to the open goal beyond. Cutting the angle and with a lunge Firrito brought him down and a certain goal was denied.
Luke Delaney did well in defence but what was he thinking when he touched the ball on the ground in defence, and waited for Adam Schneider to come up? Schneider brought him down and Lenny Hayes reaped the reward.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.