Where and when: MCG, Sunday April 7, 3.20pm AEST
Last time they met: Marvel Stadium, round 5, 2018: North Melbourne 14.14 (98) beat Hawthorn 11.4 (70)
It was a game marred by controversy with star Roo Shaun Higgins knocked out by Ryan Burton, while eventual Brownlow medalist Tom Mitchell had a brain fade which nearly cost him the award, when he made high contact with his elbow to the head of North big man Todd Goldstein. Outside of those incidents, it was a memorable win for the Roos who claimed a prized scalp. North led by 58 points at half-time but the Hawks launched a comeback and nearly overran an undermanned Roos outfit. Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite combined for seven goals, while Jack Ziebell chimed in with a couple as well.
What it means for Hawthorn: After a disappointing final-term capitulation against the Bulldogs, the Hawks will be hungry to bounce back. Undisciplined acts cost them dearly in round two, and they’ll need to be on their best behaviour so as not to draw the ire of the umpires.
What it means for North Melbourne: The Roos were in a winning position against the Lions for most of the game, but the momentum swung late in the final term. Brisbane kicked some quick goals from centre clearances to clinch the victory and send the Roos to a 0-2 start for the season. With plenty of new faces in their side, the Roos are still finding their synergy but will need to click fast before the season slips away.
How Hawthorn wins: For a start, having a full bench in the final quarter will go a long way. Injuries to Liam Shiels and Shaun Burgoyne saw the Hawks swamped by the surging Bulldogs. Hawthorn will need to apply plenty of pressure around the contest and try to exploit the fact that the Roos are still adjusting to the new 6-6-6 rule, which saw them vulnerable at centre bounces.
How North Melbourne wins: Despite losing the centre clearances and the inside 50s against the Lions, Brad Scott still thought his midfield was the more dominant on the day. Shaun Higgins (38) and Ben Cunnington (36) were solid and will need to bring their A-game against the Hawks. But if the Roos can dominate the middle and turn some of those stats around, it’ll go a long way to winning the four points.
The stat: The new rules have had a significant impact on the Roos, according to their coach. The Roos conceded 43 points from centre bounces against the Lions. Last year that average was around nine points per game.
The match-up: Todd Goldstein v Ben McEvoy
With centre clearances even more crucial under the new rules, the two No.1 ruckmen will have their work cut out providing best use for their midfielders. Goldstein will have McEvoy and Jonathon Ceglar to battle against, which won’t be an easy task.
It’s a big week for: Jack Ziebell
In a side that is struggling, the Roos skipper needs to stand up and lead from the front. Last time these two sides met, he was a barometer for North and caused headaches up forward. In 2019 he has spent more time in attack, but a move into the midfield wouldn’t go astray as the Roos try to arrest their issues at the centre bounce.
Father Dougals’s Tip: Hawthorn by 20. The Roos, well, they are not inspiring the confidence. The Hawks seem good enough to handle them. I have medium confidence in this pick. More than I do in the Roos.
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