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VFL: Youngsters among best

Midfielder Paul Ahern strengthened his case for senior selection on Saturday, during North's final VFL practice match. 

The 22-year-old was named as an emergency for the Roos' Round 2 clash against Brisbane, but could be nearing a return after another good display. 

“I thought Paul was terrific today,” Senior Development Coach Gavin Brown told North Media.

“Playing as an inside-midfielder, he got plenty of the footy and used the ball really well. His skill execution and decision-making was outstanding.

“I really liked his game today.”

It came as little surprise to see in-form defender Tom Murphy in the thick of things within North’s defensive six, providing line-breaking run and poise with his distribution.

Citing his clean disposal under pressure, Brown continues to see improvement in the young defender.

“Tom did a lot of good things,” he explained.

“He defended quite well, I didn’t mind his game. Most of the time, I thought he also used the ball really well off half-back.

“When he had the chance, he hit some really good balls which really opened things up. I liked some of his run, and thought he was solid.”

Coming off his first competitive outing in 10 months, Joel Crocker was another to show promise.

The father-son recruit made up for lost time, showing polish on the back of his minutes against Williamstown last weekend. 

“Joel was another defender who worked really hard,” Brown said. 

“Even though he was outnumbered at times and played on some bigger bodies, he competed really well.”

Former Sydney utility Dan Robinson continues to impress since switching to Arden Street, offering composure in an unfamiliar role.

“Playing on the wing today, I thought Dan did some good things,” Brown added. 

“Even though he wasn’t playing inside like he normally does, I really liked his game and the experience he gives. When he had the chance, I thought he used the ball particularly well.

“He worked back hard in defence and did the things that helped us set up structurally as well.”

North was defeated by the Northern Blues by 34 points in their final tune-up for season 2019. 

The Roos will take on Werribee in their season-opener on next Saturday night at Avalon Airport Oval.