Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Saturday May 25, 2:10pm AEST
Last time they met: Marvel Stadium, round 21, 2018: North Melbourne 12.13 (85) defeated by Western Bulldogs 13.14 (92)
A half-time lead of 28 points and finals hopes both evaporated for North Melbourne as the Western Bulldogs piled on eight goals in the third quarter. Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel all had 40-plus possessions in Dale Morris’ 250th game, while Ben Brown kicked four goals.
What it means for the Western Bulldogs: The Dogs are one of five sides sitting a game outside the top eight and with a trip to face reigning premiers West Coast before the bye, taking care of business against the 17th-placed Roos is a must.
What it means for North Melbourne: Three of the Kangaroos’ last four games have been competitive losses, with a win against Carlton. They did beat Adelaide earlier in the season, but they’d want another scalp to generate belief.
How the Western Bulldogs win: Linking via handball and getting supply inside 50 has served the Dogs reasonably well. The Roos are one of the few sides that handball more frequently, but the Dogs have been more effective.
How North Melbourne wins: Ben Brown has kicked 15 goals in the last four games against the Dogs’ well-documented smaller defence. The key forward is the focal point.
The stat: These teams like taking games down to the wire. The previous six clashes have been decided by 16 points or fewer with the Bulldogs holding a 4-2 ascendency.
The match-up: Jared Polec v Jason Johannisen
Line-breaker and quality ball-user is a combination in the X-factor category and both Polec (89th in the Official AFL Player Ratings) and Johannisen (132nd) have those skills. The stars have averaged 22 disposals apiece this season and could play a defining part.
It’s a big week for: Bailey Smith
Named the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in round nine, Smith has fitted in seamlessly and provided an exciting dynamic to a gritty Dogs midfield group. Pick No.7 in last season’s draft accumulated 28 possessions against Geelong and is an increasingly prominent influence on games.
Big call: Both sides hit the ton in a free-flowing shootout.
Prediction: Western Bulldogs by 25 points
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