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Preview: Round 23, 2019

Form

North Melbourne (9-12) v Melbourne (5-16) 

The two teams head into Saturday’s season finale on the back of completely contrasting results.

North Melbourne enjoyed its biggest win of the season against Port Adelaide last time out, with Ben Brown’s 10-goal heroics firing the Roos to an 86-point win. 

Melbourne meanwhile suffered a 53-point defeat at the hands of Sydney last week, making it six losses in a row. 

There’s no doubting the Demons have the talent, however, and they’ll be desperate to finish on a good note. 

Last time we met 

The Roos and Demons haven’t met since Round 3 of 2018, making it 502 days between clashes.

On that day, the Demons ran out 37-point winners at the MCG, with Max Gawn enjoying a day out for the hosts, racking up 18 disposals and 50 hit-outs. 

For North, Ben Brown kicked four goals and Ben Cunnington had 25 disposals.

Prior to the most recent match, North had enjoyed its longest winning streak over any team, winning the previous 17 encounters. 

Key match-up  

Todd Goldstein v Max Gawn

This weekend’s ruck battle between two of the best players, let alone rucks, is shaping up to be a classic.

Gawn is ranked as the best player in the league in the AFL Player Ratings, while Goldstein sits in sixth position.

Against the Power last weekend, Goldstein enjoyed one of the finest games of his career, collecting 34 disposals, 28 hit-outs, 9 clearances and a goal. 

Despite the Demons’ struggles in 2019, Gawn has kept to his extremely high standards, averaging 17.3 disposals and 39.4 hit-outs. 

It’s won and lost in… 

The backline 

One of the sources of Melbourne’s 2019 woes has been their inability to score, with the Demons posting the second-lowest points total in the league. 

Melbourne’s leading goal-kicker is Christian Petracca with 22 goals, with Jayden Hunt the only other Demon to have reached 20 majors. 

While the Roos haven’t had their best year defensively, conceding the fifth-most points, they will need to ensure they keep it tight at the back to limit the struggling Demons’ scoring opportunities.

Keep an eye on

Ben Brown 

After becoming the first Kangaroo since 1999 to kick 10 goals in a single game last weekend, Brown has rocketed to the top of the Coleman Medal standings, leading GWS’ Jeremy Cameron by four goals. 

Brown has a strong record in front of his home crowd, and he could become the first North player since John Longmire in 1990 to win a Coleman Medal.