North Melbourne 16.12 (108) defeated Hawthorn 13.10 (88)
We should have known.
Defeated by cellar dweller Brisbane last week, it was just like North Melbourne to come up and beat the top placed Hawks on Friday Night Footy. And beat them they did, on the back of 5 goals from Drew Petrie and a dominant aerial performance from Lachie Hansen the Kangaroos ran out 20 point winners over the reigning premiers. Both Kangaroo key forwards found some form, with Aaron Black kicking 3 goals in a display that must have pleased coach Brad Scott.
Nick Del Santo had 37 touches for a Roos midfield that really did a job on the Hawks, nullifying perhaps their biggest strength.
They were able to blunt the effectiveness of all of Isaac Smith, Grant Birchall, Sam Mitchell and Shaun Burgoyne for a Hawthorn team already down on midfield power with Bradley Hill being a late withdrawal and Brad Sewell being subbed off early in the first quarter with yet another Hawthorn hamstring injury. Added to the absence of Cyril Rioli it meant a severe lack of run and carry for the Hawks and would prove fatal against a Roos team full of aggressive running.
Jack Gunston kicked a career high 6 goals in a losing effort, but leading goal kicker Luke Bruest was well down for one of the few times this season kicking just 1 goal.
As mentioned Hansen returned for the Roos and was fantastic patrolling the back line to take 14 marks, but perhaps the biggest story of the night happened at the other end with Hawks key defender Brian Lake losing his battle with Petrie and losing his composure, at one point putting an extended sleeper hold on Petrie which is sure to draw the attention of the Match Review Panel while both wrestled on the ground. He also gave away a key 50 metre penalty on a night where in the words of coach Alistair Clarkson he “he let himself down and let his team down”.
It wasn’t just Lake who lost his composure though, the Kangas genuinely rattled the reigning premier for a 10 minute period in the third quarter to break the game open and get out to what would prove a match winning lead.
The pressure had started well before that though, with the Roos really dominating the early stages of the game without getting full reward on the scoreboard with several missed shots on goal. They would eventually find the goals but some Hawthorn pressure late in the quarter meant that the Kangaroos wouldn’t have the lead their play deserved being just 7 points up at quarter time and an even goal in front at half time. The onslaught came in the 3rd quarter, while the Hawks lost focus and raised their eyes from the ball to the man the Roos would take full toll to get out to a 35 point lead.
The Hawks trimmed the lead to 22 points by 3 quarter time and looked half a chance early in the last quarter, but the margin was too great and the Roos held on for a terrific win.
Evergreen veteran Brent Harvey was at his agitating best, collecting another 30 possessions as his improbable run to a 6th Syd Barker Medal continues. Levi Greenwood was excellent while Sam Gibson did the shutdown job on Bruest. Youngster Ben Brown showed some good flashes as a lead up target, finishing with 2 goals.
For the Hawks skipper Luke Hodge led the way with Jordan Lewis doing his best to help out, but they were outgunned by weight of numbers in the middle of the ground. Jarryd Roughead came in and out of the game to finish with 2 goals 3, but Gunston was the Hawks only real winner up forward.
Beating Hawthorn means the Roos have now beaten all of the current top 4 teams this season, adding this to wins over Port Adelaide, Sydney and Fremantle. You might expect them to be in the top 4 themselves with a record like that but consistency has been a huge issue, one they’ll be looking to arrest next week when they face struggling St Kilda.
Coach Brad Scott admitted his team were aware of a highly critical article in Friday’s Herald Sun written by former Hawk Dermott Brereton before the game and perhaps motivated by it, but if the Roos are to make the finals they need to bring that level of motivation week in week out.
The Hawks will need to regroup quickly before facing Adelaide in Adelaide next Friday night. Sam Mitchell will be better after looking a little rusty in his first game back but they’ll have to respond without veteran Sewell, who with his third hamstring injury this year is sure to miss an extended period.
Coach Clarkson is certain to be the butt of a few jokes at training this week after Brendan Bolton went undefeated in his 5 weeks as senior coach, suggesting in his press conference that “I’m a better spectator than coach”.
North Melbourne – Greenwood, Hanson, Harvey, Petrie, Gibson
Hawthorn – Gunston, Hodge, Lewis, Roughead