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VFL: Round 19 preview

North Melbourne v Footscray
Sunday, August 12
Avalon Airport Oval
First bounce: 2.30pm (AEST)

Storyline

North Melbourne will attempt to score its first victory over an AFL-affiliated side this season when it hosts Footscray at Avalon Airport Oval.

With just a win and percentage separating North from the eighth-placed Footscray, the Round 19 meeting serves as an opportunity to keep its finals hopes alive.

Sunday afternoon’s game is also North’s final home game of the season.

Added experience

Billy Hartung will add a wealth of know-how to North’s engine room and wings with the speedster to make his long-awaited return after a serious hamstring injury against the Bulldogs in Round 14 of the AFL season.

Meanwhile, Hrovat will boost North’s forward six, which has a typically youthful look, led by Nick Larkey.

The visitors have named a host of familiar faces from its AFL side, including Fletcher Roberts, Caleb Daniel and Lin Jong.

However Footscray will be without Shane Biggs, who starred in the win over Frankston last weekend; the 27-year-old with more of the footy than anyone else, acquiring 29 touches.

Air Larkey

Nick Larkey put a quieter than usual fortnight behind him with an imposing five-goal haul last weekend.

The key forward did a mountain of work against Williamstown, pushing deeper while offering coverage across the wings and middle of the ground.

If his five straight goals wasn’t impressive enough, his 11 marks certainly did the trick.

The 20-year-old continues to mark strongly in the packs and is an ever-present headache for defenders.

Larkey will have plans to better his two goals against Footscray in Round 12, as he looks to extend his lead atop the VFL scoring charts. 

Fast-starting Footscray

An eight-goal first half against Frankston last weekend validated Footscray’s credentials as fast starters.

A positive result for North will be built on the back of a determined defensive display.

With that in mind, North has shown an ability to match its opposition early, tying the Bulldogs with seven goals at the main break when the sides last met.

The visitors will be without ruck/forward Tim English, who contributed two goals against the Dolphins. However, a keen eye will need to be kept on menacing co-captain Angus Monfries, who booted four majors in his last start, including three second-half goals.

Footscray team

B: Roberts, Collins, William
HB: Dalgleish, Young, Lynch
C: Hayes, Porter, Prudden
HF: Greene, Mullenger-Mchugh, Tashevski-Beckwith
F: Daniel, Campbell, Monfries
R: English, Jong, Honeychurch
Int: Greenwood, Henness, McComb, Olsson, Panayi, Patullo, Shea, Smith, Sullivan, Symeopoulos, Wales
23P: Smith

Burning questions 

Can North end its barren run?

The Roos are yet to topple an AFL-affiliated side this season.

With Sunday afternoon’s meeting serving as North’s last home game for the season, a win over Footscray will be a great way to sign-off in front of the North faithful.

Who can stop Nick Larkey?

The second-year forward had arguably his best game in the royal blue and white stripes last weekend.

Proving to be equally dangerous in the air and in contested packs, Footscray’s defence will need to put in a collaborative effort to quell the in-form tall.

Which engine room will run riot? 

Footscray dominated the uncontested footy against Frankston, out-numbering its opposition by 58 possessions.

North’s engine room consisting of Nash Holmes, Chris Jansen and Nick Rippon will need to be at its best with the battle for contested footy set to go a long way to deciding the result.

Fans are invited to attend Sunday’s VFL match against Footscray at Avalon Airport Oval, with the first bounce at 2.30pm. Entry to home games is free for NMFC members. Courtesy of VFL.com.au, the game will be live streamed, commencing at 2.30pm EST.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs