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AFL: City v Country report

Nick Bowen - AFL.com.au  February 9, 2018 8:17 PM

Luke McDonald and Jy Simpkin look capable of giving North Melbourne's midfield an injection of class after impressive performances in the club's intra-club practice match on Friday, while prized recruit Luke Davies-Uniacke pressed his case for a round one debut.

McDonald has spent the bulk of his four AFL seasons in defence while Simpkin played in attack during his debut season last year.

But the pair played primarily in the midfield during Friday's game, with McDonald representing North's 'city' team and Simpkin the 'country' side. Both were influential around the stoppages, while their class was evident when the ball got into the open.

Mason Wood kicked three goals in the opening three quarters before going off the field after copping a knock to his thumb. The exciting forward, who has battled injury in his five seasons at North, spent the last quarter icing the thumb on the interchange bench.

But Wood told North officials after the game his thumb was "fine".

Davies-Uniacke, pick No.4 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, was a solid performer for the country team through the midfield. The well-built 18-year-old looked at home in a match that was fiercely contested by intra-club standards and memorably stopped inside midfielder Trent Dumont in his tracks with a strong tackle in the third quarter.

In a season when North is likely to give its youngsters as many senior opportunities as possible, Davies-Uniacke mounted a strong case to debut in round one.

Majak Daw continued his transition from attack into defence, spending time on a range of opponents, including Wood, veteran Jarrad Waite and rookie Tom Jeffries. The athletic tall showed some promising signs in his new role, taking several strong marks, but understandably remains a work in progress.

Ben Cunnington was a prolific ball-winner through the midfield and underlined how dangerous he can be pinch-hitting in attack, kicking two quick goals on Ben Jacobs in the second quarter.

Jacobs got through the game unscathed as he continues his return from the foot injuries that have ruined his past two seasons.

Defender Marley Williams also made a successful return from a back injury, playing a solid game in defence for the country team.

Second-year midfielder Josh Williams provided run off the wing and enjoyed a particularly strong second quarter, while Shaun Atley spent plenty of time in attack and was dangerous with two goals.

Second-year key forward Nick Larkey worked his way into the game in the second half, kicking two goals and taking some strong marks.

Former Hawk Billy Hartung won plenty of the ball on a wing, but let himself down with his disposal at times.

Shaun Higgins, Paul Ahern, Sam Wright, Taylor Garner, Will Walker, Declan Watson (knee), Jed Anderson (thumb) and Kyron Hayden (shoulder) did not take part in Friday's match.

Photos by Adam Trafford - AFL Photos. 

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Ben Brown.

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Luke Davies-Uniacke.

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In the huddle.

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Ben McKay tries to break clear.