Kangaroos Face Finals Reality

Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Drew Petrie is a key to the Kangaroos' fortunes. Image courtesy Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Last Five Matches

Round 17, 2012 – North Melbourne 103 d Richmond 99 at MCG
Round 24, 2011 – North Melbourne 104 d Richmond 91 at Etihad Stadium
Round 5, 2011 – Richmond 112 d North Melbourne 103 at Etihad Stadium
Round 16, 2010 – North Melbourne 103 d Richmond 53 at MCG
Round 16, 2009 – Richmond 85 drew North Melbourne 85 at MCG


Form

     Rd 10       Rd 11       Rd 12       Rd 13       Rd 14   
North Melbourne  

 W

 L

 B

 L

 B

Richmond 

 W

 B

 W

 W

 W


Richmond , as it should have, beat up on a weakened St Kilda at the weekend. With the Saints lacking experience and size at the back, the Tigers’ bigs had a field day in the 64-point win , the club’s fourth on the trot. Damien Hardwick’s team is only 3-4 wins away from securing a finals spot, and wins in matches like Saturday’s clash with North Melbourne will decide where they finish in the eight.

It was around this time last season the Kangaroos made a massive surge to claim eighth spot on the ladder. It will be a lot tougher this season, given the difficulty of the Roos’ draw. They’re good enough to win most of their remaining matches, but given their lack of polish at crunch times this season, it’s hard to see them doing so. They did what they had to do in seeing off GWS by 86 last Sunday.

The Kangaroos will be without goalsneak Lindsay Thomas who received a two-match ban for his inexplicable headbutt last weekend. Improving midfielder Ben Cunnington returns to the side. Richmond has included boom youngster Nick Vlastuin who comes back from a corked shin.


Key Men

(Kangaroos) Drew Petrie – Few teams’ fortunes fluctuate on the performances of just one player like North Melbourne’s on the back of key forward Drew Petrie . His best is All-Australian worthy, but the gaps between his good and bad games are just too great at the moment. He has booted just 11 goals in the eight games the Kangas have lost. He nailed five against the Giants last week, but it’s time for him to stand up in the matches that matter.

(Tigers) Tyrone Vickery – In the same way the ‘Roos would love to see Drew Petrie standing up every week, the Tigers would be over the moon to get some consistency out of Tyrone Vickery . He can be a monster, but producing the sort of game he did against an undersized and inexperienced Saints backline last weekend (18 possessions, 16 hit-outs, 11 marks and a goal) doesn’t mean as much as if he brings it on against a couple of North’s more experienced gun backmen on Saturday.


Prediction

Richmond is getting to a dangerous and not-often experienced part of the season where it is expected to win football games against good teams. North Melbourne isn’t a top four side, but they did make the finals last season and have pushed the top sides enough this season to suggest they won’t be far away in 2013…if only they could actually get up in the tight ones. Recent history suggests there is very little between these teams. Four of the last five have been decided by 13 points or less, including a draw. Both teams have the capacity to move the ball quickly, but both have a tendency to knock off at times and concede quick goals. Richmond looks the side more capable of playing four quarters of footy at the moment, though. Richmond by 15 points

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