North Melbourne is a side that is slowly but surely on the rise and building towards eventual success, that much is obvious.
North led an unbeaten Melbourne side at half-time before the Demons rallied in the third quarter. to emerge victorious by 30-points.
Winning the first two quarters of the day, North’s pressure and intensity in the midfield set the tone for its most productive and complete game of football so far this season.
After piling the pressure on the competition’s top side for so much of the game, David Noble says there are clear reasons for fans to be excited with the performance.
“Pressure builds intensity and pressure builds turnovers. If you can use that as part of your armoury to score, along with stoppages, then they’re the tools we need to develop,” he said.
“We talked to our playing group a few weeks ago in the sense pressure is not always physical, pressure can be bought by putting scoreboard pressure on, so it forces and helps us in regard to the opposition having to shift some of the things they’re doing.
“It was really pleasing for our fans, particularly down here (in Tasmania), to really experience and see what we’re building and how we’re going about our business.”
With Melbourne possessing legitimate midfield stars of the competition like Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw, the battle at the coal-face was always going to be a tough contest for North’s comparatively inexperienced midfield group.
It was North who won many of the early battles though. Tom Powell’s improvement continues to rise and rise, Kayne Turner is thriving in a new tagging role and midfield leader Ben Cunnington looks to be back to his best and fairest winning peak.
Noble says the way Cunnington has gone about his business while navigating the death of his grandfather has been inspirational for the young group.
“He’s had some personal family issues he’s dealt with over the last week or two, and he’s just been a pillar of strength,” he said.
“Not only Ben today, but I thought our midfield did really well. We got a bit of a touch up in that area last week, and for our guys and coaches to address that and do what we did today at stoppages was really good.
“I think we’re one of if not the only team that’s played the [top] four in the [first] seven rounds … it’s enormously beneficial for our guys to play against that crew.
“To have those young guys like (Tom) Powell, (Charlie) Lazzaro, (Will) Phillips and even Tarryn Thomas [have] time in midfield in crucial roles is significantly important for us going forward.”
Despite the much-improved performance, the inescapable fact is that North is still yet to win a game in 2021.
Noble says his team are committed to playing to win, and Sunday’s performance against Melbourne is a huge leap forward in the development of his side.
“We are building consistency. I know we didn’t necessarily get the job done in the third quarter, but I also look at the fact we kicked the first goal of the last quarter … and were right in the game,” he said.
“I think the way we used the ball, the way we carried the ball and used our speed in the front half, and certainly the way we defended in that first half is a bit of the blueprint we want to go forward with.
“We play to win, that’s the bottom line … a lot of the areas we targeted that we knew Melbourne are strong in [like] contested ball [and] clearances, we were rock solid and right around the mark for most of the day.”