Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Sunday, May 12, 1.10pm AEST
Last time they met: GMHBA Stadium, round 12, 2018: Geelong 14.12 (96) defeated North Melbourne 8.11 (59)
In Gary Ablett’s 200th game for the club, the Cats led for most of the day and made sure of victory with a five-goals-to-two final quarter. Ablett was outstanding with 34 possessions (16 contested) in a best-on-ground performance, with Tom Hawkins (three goals) also prominent. Shaun Higgins was North’s standout with 30 disposals and a pair of goals. Ex-Roo Aaron Black, playing for Geelong, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the match.
What it means for North Melbourne: The Roos were terrific in disposing of Carlton, but playing Geelong is a huge test. Few expect them to win, but this is a chance to prove they’re better than the early-season results suggest.
What it means for Geelong: Another box to tick. That’s not meant to be disrespectful to North, but more about the mission the Cats appear to be on. They’re one game clear atop the ladder and have slayed tougher rivals in 2019.
How North Melbourne wins: More of what we saw against the Blues. There’s been improvement in North’s centre-bounce work and that needs to continue, as will the slicker ball movement to give Ben Brown a chance in attack.
How Geelong wins: The Cats have most bases covered, but their high efficiency with the Sherrin in hand, and ability to pressure the opposition and create turnovers is a deadly combination. Maintaining a good spread of goal-scorers is important, too.
The stat: Geelong ranks No.1 in the competition for forward-half possessions gains, points against, points from intercepts and goal per inside 50 percentage – among others. This is an outstanding team at the moment.
The match-up: Mark Blicavs v Ben Brown
Brown’s booted only five goals in six games against the Cats. Blicavs, who is ranked 122nd in the AFL Player Ratings, is a big reason for that. He has the height and certainly the engine to be a match-up nightmare for the mop-haired Kangaroo, who comes in at No.106 overall.
It’s a big week for: Jack Ziebell
North’s captain has responded strongly from his six-touch shocker against Essendon, particularly with his shutdown job on brilliant Carlton onballer Patrick Cripps last week. The Roos need him to be a key contributor as much as ever this week – in the centre or up forward – against a Cats line-up chockful of stars.
Father Dougal’s Tip: Cats by 20 points.
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