North Melbourne v Richmond
Friday, May 31 - 7.50pm AEST
North Melbourne (3-7) v Richmond (7-3)
North Melbourne and Richmond come into this clash brimming with confidence after impressive victories in Round 10.
The Kangaroos overcame a dramatic pre-game to topple the Dogs by 25-points in what will be remembered as a win for the ages.
The Tigers are humming along nicely, winning 6 of their past 7, with the latest against Essendon.
Last time we met
It was a hotly contested match under the Marvel Stadium roof in Round 8, 2018.
The Tigers walked away victorious by just 10 points, thanks to 37 disposals from skipper, Trent Cotchin, and 4 goals from dynamic forward, Josh Caddy.
Despite failing to secure the win, it was North’s players that were the most impressive, with Ben Cunnington recording a then-career high 38 disposals, 32 contested - a new AFL record.
Ben Jacobs shut down star midfielder Dustin Martin, restricting him to just 16 disposals, while the goals were spread between the likes of Ben Brown, Mason Wood, Jarrad Waite and Shaun Atley.
The last time the sides faced off on a Friday night was in 2016 at a blistering cold Bellerive Oval. North was victorious by a whopping 70 points.
Cunnington v Martin
While Martin hasn’t quite had the impact of previous seasons, he still remains one of the most damaging midfielders.
In his past two outings, he has had 35 and 37 disposals respectively, and kicked 2 goals; by far his two best games of the season.
Around the contest, he’s important, averaging 9 clearances over the past fortnight and leads his side in goal assists.
While it’s unlikely Cunnington will be able to run with Martin, they could face-off at the stoppages.
Martin will have to be accountable in these moments, given Cunnington’s ability to win the ball in tight.
Averaging 28.8 disposals, the 27-year-old ranks 2ndin the AFL for handballs and centre clearances, while coming in at 4th in stoppage clearances.
Running at 7.9 clearances per game, expect the Todd Goldstein-Cunnington combination to play a big part.
It’s won and lost in…
North’s forward 50 looks a lot different to what many expected at the start of the season with the likes of Nick Larkey, Cameron Zurhaar and Tarryn Thomas all prominent.
It all seemed to click last weekend when North piled on 115 points - its second highest total of the season. In fact, the Roos were the only side to boot 100 or more points in Round 10.
The addition of Larkey has really aided Brown, who is close to regaining his best form, having kicked 9 goals in the past three weeks.
Zurhaar, Thomas and Kayne Turner all bring elite pressure in North’s forward half, which has benefited the side greatly.
North will face an undermanned Richmond backline, which is missing five-time All-Australian Alex Rance. However, after some early teething issues, the Tigers have conceded just 67 points on average.
The likes of Dylan Grimes, David Astbury and Ryan Garthwaite have all stood tall, and will need to do so again if Richmond is to secure another win.
Keep an eye on…
… Goldstein and Bachar Houli
Coming off one of his best games in recent years, Goldstein could be a force to be reckoned with.
Against the Dogs, he had 28 disposals, 57 hit-outs and 7 marks and was a big reason why North was able to win.
With Toby Nankervis (adductor) still sidelined, Ivan Soldo (need to check) and Noah Balta will be required to do much of the ruck work.
Off half-back, Houli is in strong form, averaging 34 disposals in the past three weeks.
His run and carry out of defence is a big key to Richmond’s success, and along with Nick Vlastuin, he generates much of his side’s transition forward.
North interim coach Rhyce Shaw may consider sending Turner to Houli to keep an eye on the Tiger, however that will remain unknown until 7.50pm AEST on Friday.