Photo: Madeleine Green

Bailey Scott was a shining light in what was a tough result for North Melbourne’s VFL side on Sunday.

Scott finished with 28 disposals and a goal, performing well, primarily in an inside-midfield role. However, his trademark run and carry still flashed through the contest.

VFL coach Leigh Adams says Scott’s ability to work on things at VFL level and improve his game hold him in good stead for an AFL recall in the future.

“He was our best AFL-listed player today I thought, he’s starting to find some form now,” Adams told North Media.

“His work-rate is up really high at the moment and he’s working really hard on his contested game. He showed out pretty well today.

“He’s obviously still got some areas he has to work on, but I’d say that’s probably the best game he’s played in a while.”

Tristan Xerri has been putting a good body of form together at VFL level so far this season, but took on one of his biggest challenges of the season against Box Hill.

Taking on primary ruck duties, Xerri had to contend with not only Ned Reeves and Keegan Brooksby, but also AFL veteran Jonathon Ceglar, looking to prove his fitness for a potential AFL recall.

Xerri once again performed admirably and finished with 18 disposals, 23 hitouts and a goal.

“At the moment being the only recognised ruck he (Xerri) has his work cut out for him, but he’s competing really hard and playing pretty well at the minute,” Adams said.

“He was pretty cooked by the end of the game ... they (the Hawks) had three rucks rotating through there at times.

“The way he’s attacking the contest and pushing for AFL selection each week is really encouraging.”

Will Phillips made his VFL return after consecutive weeks of being North’s medical substitute at senior level.

Box Hill’s midfield did well to deny Phillips any time or space to attack the footy, with the 19-year-old copping a hard tag for four quarters.

Despite the Hawks’ best efforts, Phillips went on the finish with 15 disposals, adapting his game well throughout the contest.

“It’s a bit of a testament to him that he’s getting tagged at this level at his age. He’s obviously doing enough to keep the opposition worried about the impact he can have on the game,” Adams said.

“It’ll be good to go back and watch it for him … I thought at times he fought through it really well and it’s a bit of a learning curve.

“It’s going to be a really good learning experience for him to go during the week and have a look at what he could have done differently, but also what he did well.”.

Development player Mark Baker was a strong presence in North’s forward-line throughout the game as he kicked a goal, pinch-hitted in the ruck and provided a smart goal assist for stand-in skipper Kade Answerth.

Adams says the mentality in which Baker attacked the game is indicative of how he wants his whole side to play.

“That’s the best game I’ve seen ‘Bakes’ play. He’s a really good player when he competes and works really hard,” he said.

“He’s got a lot of physical attributes that are good, he’s just been a bit inconsistent lately, but he competed for four quarters this week and played his best game.

“We want to be a team that contests, competes and gets the ball going forward … we have to get blokes willing to play their roles for four quarters.”

Despite North’s first half performance being by far its best of the season, the inescapable fact is that Box Hill eventually ran out as 108-point victors.

Adams says his side need to put in more composed and mature performances to stop games getting away from them in the manner that happened today.

“When the pressure comes on us at this stage we just go away from our roles. Once one bloke starts being unpredictable it makes other blokes unpredictable as well and you get yourself in a puzzle there,” he added. 

“If we can have 22 blokes go out there and just play their role for four quarters, no matter what level of talent we have on the park we’re not going to get those blowouts, but when blokes go away from that then that’s where blowouts come from.”

Box Hill 23.12.150 defeated North Melbourne 6.6.42

AFL-listed players

Bailey Scott - 28 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 goal
Tristan Xerri - 18 disposals, 23 hitouts, 1 goal
Eddie Ford - 16 disposals
Will Phillips - 15 disposals
Atu Bosenavulagi - 13 disposals

The best of the VFL

Harry Jones - 22 disposals
Connor Byrne - 19 disposals, 5 marks
Kade Answerth - 18 disposals, 1 goal