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Preview: Round 9, 2018

Mitchell Jones  May 17, 2018 6:25 PM

Round 9
North Melbourne v GWS Giants
Saturday, May 19
Blundstone Arena
First bounce: 1.45pm (AEST)

Storyline

For the second week in a row, both North and Greater Western Sydney find themselves in one of the most anticipated matches of the round, this time facing off in Hobart.

North put in one of its strongest performances of the season last weekend against Richmond, but despite its gallant effort, the young Roos were unable to secure the win over the reigning premiers.

For the Giants, they suffered a disappointing loss, losing to West Coast by 25 points at its home ground, while a concussion to captain Phil Davis and a hamstring injury to Matt de Boer rubbed salt into the wounds.

Both sides will make the trip to Blundstone Arena this weekend in the hope of getting back on the winner’s list.

North’s Tassie fortunes

North’s record at its home away from home is staggering to say the least, with the club winning 12 of its 16 games at Blundstone.

Since it first played an AFL match at the ground, North has made the Hobart deck somewhat of a fortress, which was only further validated in Round 4 this year with an 86-point win over Carlton.

A combination of the ground dimensions, unique weather conditions and unrivalled Tasmanian support makes Hobart a happy stomping ground for the young Roos side.

For the Giants, Saturday won’t be their first time playing in Hobart, given they’ve played at Blundstone Arena on two previous occasions.

The first was in Round 2, 2012, the ground’s AFL debut, in which North secured a comfortable 129-point win, while the second came in Round 3 last year, when the Giants claimed the bragging rights.

Without a doubt, North will be doing everything it can to boost its Hobart winning percentage beyond 75 per cent, while GWS will aim to make North’s record 12 from 15.

North backline face Giants' forwards

The balance of youth and experience in North’s backline has been heavily praised this season, with the side conceding the second-least amount of points in the competition.

Averaging 71 points against per game in 2018, the Roos kept Richmond to its equal-lowest score of the season last week, and will look to continue that form this weekend against the Giants.

For GWS, its forward-line hasn’t been clicking in recent weeks, and is performing statistically worse than the opening month of the season.

In Rounds 1 to 4, it averaged 99 points per game with a high-score of 133. In the most recent month of footy, the Giants have scored an average of 60.75, highlighted by 77 in Round 6.

With Jonathon Patton out of form and de Boer and Toby Greene sidelined with injury, GWS’ avenues to goals have been reduced, and has been reflected on the scoreboard.

Giant injuries

If the Giants are to secure the four points on Saturday afternoon, they’ll have to do it without some of their biggest names.

The latest injuries to hit the away side come in the form of skipper Phil Davis and de Boer, who suffered a concussion and a hamstring injury respectively last weekend.

The experienced duo join Brett Deledio (hamstring), Josh Kelly (groin), Greene (foot) and Tom Scully (ankle) on the sidelines.

How the incoming Giants fill the holes left by Davis and de Boer is yet to be seen, but what we do know, is that there are some big shoes to fill.

GWS’ team

B: Adam Tomlinson, Aidan Corr, Nick Haynes
HB: Jeremy Finlayson, Tim Mohr, Heath Shaw
C: Isaac Cumming, Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield
HF: Zac Langdon, Jeremy Cameron, Jacob Hopper
F: Sam Reid, Harry Himmelberg, Callan Ward
R: Rory Lobb, Stephen Coniglio, Ryan Griffen 
Interchange: Lachie Keeffe, Daniel Lloyd, Harry Perryman, Tim Taranto 

In: Tim Mohr, Harry Perryman
Out: Phil Davis (concussion), Matt de Boer (hamstring)

Burning Questions

Will Jarrad Waite play?
In Wednesday’s media conference, Brad Scott refused to guarantee Waite’s selection in the side, leaving room for speculation about his fitness after receiving a corked hip last weekend.

Named in the 22, Scott will give Waite up until when the final teams are lodged on Saturday to prove his fitness. The 35-year-old isn’t one to back-down from a contest, so it will be interesting to see if he is given the all clear.

What weather conditions will Hobart serve up?
One of the toughest parts about playing in Tasmania is the unpredictable weather conditions, so it is near impossible to predict. However at this stage, experts are expecting a relatively fine day with light winds and just a 30 per cent chance of rainfall. Whether that’s how Saturday pans out is unknown, but at this stage, it’s looking ok.

Does Ben Jacobs go to Stephen Coniglio?
North midfielder Ben Jacobs has received great praise this season for his ability to minimise the impact of his opponents, and this week will be no easier.

GWS’ Stephen Coniglio is averaging 28 disposals this season, and has kicked seven goals from his eight games. He is sure to be a big focus of North’s.

Although, when it comes to Jacobs’ roles, Brad Scott has kept people guessing, so don’t be surprised if the North coach sends his star tagger to another Giant.