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2022 VFL Premiership Season
Round 20 • North Melbourne v Sydney Swans
Arden Street Oval Melbourne
75 11.9
Full Time Swans by 20
95 13.17
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    VFL R20 team: Cunnington to make long-awaited return

    North Melbourne Kangaroos champion Ben Cunnington will make his long-awaited return via the VFL in Sunday's clash with the Sydney Swans at Arden Street Oval

    North Melbourne Kangaroos champion Ben Cunnington will make his long-awaited return via the VFL in Sunday's clash with the Sydney Swans at Arden Street Oval.

    Cunnington has not played footy at any level since Round 19, 2021 after battling testicular cancer.

    Sunday will make it 379 days between games.

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    The 31-year-old was tracking well to return last month before tweaking his calf at training, and last week tested positive for COVID-19.

    Interim AFL senior coach Leigh Adams was weighing up whether to bring him straight back in via the seniors, but the club has erred on the side of caution after discussion with the medical staff.

    Joining Cunnington in the VFL side will be senior teammates Jack Mahony, Josh Walker and Aiden Bonar.

    Mahony will return after exiting health and safety protocols, while Bonar (AFL omission) and Walker (unused AFL medi-sub) will also face the Swans.

    Cooper Smith (shoulder), Tom Williamson (head knock), Hamish Murphy and Sam Collins go out from the side which lost to Essendon by 29 points.

    The Roos will be out to win their fourth game of the season, while the Swans will be looking to solidify their spot in the top four with a third-straight victory.

    Sunday, August 7

    North Melbourne v Sydney Swans at Arden Street Oval, 11.05am AEST

    B: 15. A. Bosenavulagi 15. J. Walker 53. M. Hore
    HB: 41. M. McGuinness 16. A. Bonar 33. P. Walker
    C: 32. J. Goater 26. T. Thomas 10. B. Cunnington
    HF: 40. E.Ford 36. P. Spicer 49. H. Jones
    F: 30. C. Comben 54. K. Answerth 1. J. Mahony
    Foll: 32. J. Edwards 46. D. Tyson 37. K. Hayden
    I/C: 58. B. Stevens 60. N. Beattie 61. M. Mitchell-Russell
      66. Z. Monkhorst 70. J. Watkins  
    23rd Player: 60. N. Beattie
    Emerg: 48. H. Murphy 59. J. Lipscombe 62. S. Collins
      68. J. Guthrie 75. C. Weightman  
           
    INS: 1. J. Mahony 10. B. Cunnington 15. J. Walker
      16. A. Bonar    
           
    OUTS: 48. H. Murphy 51. T. Williamson 58. C. Smith
      62. S. Collins    

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    VFL R20 wrap: Roos fall short after late fightback

    North Melbourne finished strong in Ben Cunnington’s return game but ultimately fell to Sydney by 20 points at Arden Street Oval

    North Melbourne finished strong in Ben Cunnington’s return game but ultimately fell to Sydney by 20 points at Arden Street Oval on Sunday.

    After a competitive start to the game followed by an extended period on the back foot, the Roos booted five goals to one in the final term to cut the deficit.

    Despite the Roos falling against a strong Swans outfit 11.9 (75) to 13.17 (95), smiles were aplenty amongst staff, players and fans thanks to the return of club legend Cunnington.

    01:28 Mins
    Published ago

    Ben is BACK: Cunnington returns via the VFL

    After 379 days, Ben Cunnington returns to play footy again via North Melbourne's VFL team

    Published ago

    Making his first competitive appearance in 379 days, the 31-year-old tough nut burst out of the blocks early and gathered the opening contested possession and clearance before ending his afternoon at three-quarter time with 18 disposals, three tackles and three clearances.

    Alongside him in the midfield was Tarryn Thomas who showed touches of class in his second game back from personal leave with 20 disposals, five clearances, six tackles and a goal.

    They were ably supported by Marty Hore and Dom Tyson who collected 34 disposals and 28 receptively with the latter also slotting a major.

    Down forward, Charlie Comben impressed in his second game back from knee surgery with three goals along with several profound grabs.

    The Roos' line-up also experienced a late change prior to the bounce as Josh Walker was called up to senior level to replace Ben McKay (shoulder).

    KANGAROOS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

    Sam Wicks was best for Sydney with 27 disposals and three goals.

    Interim coach Tom Lynch said the afternoon was a tough one but he was encouraged by the final term.

    “It was a disappointing game, we felt for much of the game that when we played our best football it gave us a real opportunity to inflict damage on them and the scoreboard reflected that,” he said.

    “Sydney is a really classy outfit and today they were able to make us defend for too many long periods of the game which I’m sure cooked our boys at times.

    “We kept fighting away and to have a five-goal-to-one last quarter is a really encouraging sign for our young group.”

    13:46 Mins
    Published ago

    VFL R20 mini-match: North Melbourne v Sydney

    Extended highlights of the Roos and Swans VFL clash in Round 20

    Published ago

    As expected, Cunnington’s return boosted the morale around the club.

    “Having 'Cunners' back today was obviously really special for him and those boys that got to play with him,” said Lynch.

    “He’s someone who’s been in an incredible fight and shown an amazing amount of resilience and his story is incredible so it was really nice to be there to watch him today.

    “You tell most groups to get a returning player an early touch but he finds the ball so comfortably and it was really pleasing to see him get his hands on the footy.”

    Lynch was also happy with the progression of Thomas’ form

    “'Taz', certainly at times today, was really influential for us,” he said.

    “We know his qualities, he can really inflict damage, run and carry and penetrate with ball in hand and with his wheels, but it’s really nice to see him start to get some continuity back in his footy.”

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    NORTH MELBOURNE     2.1     4.3     6.8     11.9     (75)     
    SYDNEY                         2.7     7.10     12.13     13.17     (95)      

    GOALS  
    North Melbourne: Comben 3, Jones 2, Watkins 2, Goater, Spicer, Thomas, Tyson
    Sydney: 
    Amartey 3, Wicks 3, Bell 2, McLean 2, Bradtke, Sheldrick, Sinclair

    BEST  
    North Melbourne: Tyson, Hore, Jones, Goater, Thomas
    Sydney: Wicks, Amartey, Bell, Ladhams, Gould

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    Champion Roo gets through first game in 379 days

    After 379 long days, North Melbourne Kangaroos champion Ben Cunnington returned to competitive football at Arden Street Oval on Sunday
    Read now
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