Friday Night Fight For Finals Survival

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Brent Harvey adds experience to North's line-up. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Last Five Matches

Round 16, 2012 – North Melbourne 149 d Carlton 96 at Etihad Stadium
Round 19, 2011 – Calton 80 d North Melbourne 62 at Etihad Stadium
Round 12, 2010 – North Melbourne 97 d Carlton 68 at Etihad Stadium
Round 18, 2009 – Carlton 94 d North Melbourne 84 at Etihad Stadium
Round 20, 2008 - North Melbourne 141 d Carlton 90 at Etihad Stadium


Form

     Rd 12       Rd 13       Rd 14       Rd 15       Rd 16   
North Melbourne   B  L  W  W  L
Carlton   L  B  L  L  B

Seriously, you just can’t lose four games in a season from more than five goals up. The Kangaroos have somehow managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory more than any other team in recent history this season. The 12-point loss to the Lions last Saturday night was the icing on the cake for a ‘Roos team which has not only thrown away big leads, but also showed an inability to win tight games. The Kangas were dominating Brisbane when they were up by 33 in the third quarter, but for the umpteenth time Brad Scott’s side couldn’t run out a game it had to win.

Carlton is another side which has developed a nasty habit of not winning close games this season, but the Blues did at least get the chocolates in a tight contest against St Kilda at the weekend. It was just 11 points the difference at three-quarter time but the Blues ran the game out better. It was impressive to see Carlton getting up without influential forward Jarrad Waite in the line-up.

The Blues remain unchanged, although Lachie Henderson has been named to start down back despite his four-goal haul last weekend. North has dropped Michael Firrito and Levi Greenwood, but regains goalsneak Lindsay Thomas and defender Scott McMahon. Andrew Swallow, Jack Ziebell, Aaron Mullett and Lachie Hansen have all been named despite coming out of the Brisbane loss with injury concerns.


Key Men

(Kangaroos) Brent Harvey – Lindsay Thomas averages almost four goals per game against Carlton, but with the pacy forward coming off a two-week suspension, Brad Scott will be hoping to get some goals out of his other smalls. Brent Harvey is probably the best candidate, but despite finding plenty of the footy against Brisbane, he was held to one goal. Drew Petrie kicked seven against the Blues last season, so if he dominates again, then the ‘Roos will get home with a little help from their small forwards.

(Blues) Chris Judd – Carlton champion Chris Judd went head-to-head with another gun ball-winner, Lenny Hayes, on Saturday night and came out on top…just. Given North’s unwillingness to tag Daniel Rich in the second half of last week’s game when he tore them to shreds, you would imagine Judd will be going toe-to-toe with one of the ‘Roos up and coming midfielders. It could be a dangerous ploy, as Judd racked up 36 touches in a one-man show in last season’s 53-point loss to the Shinboners.


Prediction

The form of these teams is just all over the place. In saying that, Carlton disposed of Brisbane at the ‘Gabba relatively easily in round nine, while the ‘Roos capitulated against the Lions last weekend. Brisbane is a tougher team to play now with most of its stars back, so Carlton’s result was probably flattering. Even the recent record shows that these teams have split their last four games 2-2. Despite this match being a toss of the coin, only once in the past six matches has the game been decided by less than three goals, and the average winning margin is 40 points. North has won 13 of its last 14 starts at Etihad Stadium, and two of those defeats were by less than a goal. Carlton’s record there since the start of the 2012 season is 6-9, so the ‘Roos might just sneak home under the roof. North Melbourne by 13 points .

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