North makes the long trip to Perth on Friday before coming up against a Fremantle side suddenly in very good form the following night.
The Dockers have defeated the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in the last two weeks, squaring their season ledger at 2-2.
There’s a fair argument to mount that 2-2 is what North’s record could be after the first month, but narrow losses to Geelong and the Bulldogs have the Roos at 0-4.
Two more Roos come into the side for their first game of the season; Mason Wood returning from injury and Ed Vickers-Willis making his AFL debut.
Restructuring the forward line
In Round 1, North played what was then its ‘standard’ forward line setup, consisting of three talls.
Fast forward to Round 5, and the talls in the forward line are Ben Brown and Mason Wood; the latter far from a traditional key-position player.
It’s a big departure from the norm, and it’ll be fascinating to see how it changes North’s ball use all over the ground.
With Fremantle’s new found initiative to rotate their star midfielders inside the forward 50, it raises the question on how North will match up on them.
The likes of Lachie Neale, Nat Fyfe and David Mundy are all dangerous enough in their natural role, let alone when they head closer to goal.
Do the North midfielders try to hurt those Dockers by going forward themselves? It’s set up for a tactical battle at Domain Stadium.
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Stopping the opposition burst
In each of the first four rounds, North has had to contend with an opponent on a devastating burst of momentum.
While last week’s clash against the Bulldogs was its best attempt yet at steadying and going again, the Roos will have to lift another level against Fremantle.
The Dockers had a fearsome third quarter against the Demons at the MCG, kicking seven consecutive goals to turn a 21-point deficit into a 22-point lead.
If North is on the receiving end of a similar run in the intimidating Domain Stadium atmosphere, the game could quickly slip away.
The burning questions
What role will Ed Vickers-Willis play?
The debutant, standing at 191 centimetres, is capable of playing on various types of opposition forwards.
How will North maintain its pressure on the big ground?
Domain Stadium, at almost 176 metres long, is the largest ground in the AFL.
Can North snap its prior run in Perth?
The Roos have only won two of their last 11 matches at Domain Stadium.
B: Ethan Hughes, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr
HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Michael Johnson, Connor Blakely
C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill
HF: Lachie Weller, Cam McCarthy, Ed Langdon
F: Michael Walters, Shane Kersten, Brady Grey
Fol: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy
Int: Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan, Hayden Crozier, Darcy Tucker
Emer: Jonathon Griffin, Matt Taberner, Cameron Sutcliffe
In: Darcy Tucker
Out: Harley Balic (hip)
B: Marley Williams, Robbie Tarrant, Aaron Mullett
HB: Lachlan Hansen, Scott Thompson, Sam Gibson
C: Taylor Garner, Ben Cunnington, Kayne Turner
HF: Jamie Macmillan, Ben Brown, Andrew Swallow
F: Jy Simpkin, Mason Wood, Lindsay Thomas
Fol: Todd Goldstein, Jack Ziebell, Shaun Higgins
Int: Luke McDonald, Trent Dumont, Shaun Atley, Ed Vickers-Willis
Emer: Jed Anderson, Nathan Hrovat, Corey Wagner
In: Mason Wood, Ed Vickers-Willis
Out: Nathan Hrovat (omitted), Braydon Preuss (rested)