North Melbourne v GWS
Sunday, June 13 - 3:20pm
Blundstone Arena

After a week to sit back and take stock, North Melbourne begins its second half of the season on Sunday, clashing with GWS at Blundstone Arena.

Despite losing the Round 11 clash with St Kilda by 20 points, North won the second half and produced a strong fourth quarter showing. The side in royal blue and white will be hoping to build on those positive signs.

Buoyed by the impending returns of Robbie Tarrant and Jaidyn Stephenson, some much welcome experience will be added at both ends of the ground for the home side.

GWS is also coming off the bye and will be hoping to improve on its last performance – giving up 34 scoring shots in a 64-point loss to Brisbane.

The bye came at a fortuitous time for the injury-hit Sydney side, with Toby Greene set to return this week, along with the potential inclusions of Phil Davis, Adam Kennedy and Matt De Boer.

Last time we met:

Round 2, 2020

North ran out as 20-point victors last time it faced GWS, taking the four points away from Giants Stadium on the back of an elite performance from Todd Goldstein.

North fans were made to wait for the win, with the clash being the first since the AFL’s three-month Covid shutdown, but the wait was well and truly worth it.

Goldstein was everywhere on the day, finishing with 19 disposals, 9 clearances, a goal and a monstrous 53 hitouts with 100 per cent time on ground.

Cam Zurhaar was at his efficient best in the forward line as he kicked 3 goals, while Jared Polec finished with 10 score involvements from 23 touches.

Stephen Coniglio worked hard for the Giants and finished with 10 tackles, while Callan Ward had 21 touches and a goal.

The matchup:

Kayne Turner v Toby Greene

It looks highly likely that North’s new ‘mister fix-it’ Kayne Turner will be given the first crack at keeping the returning Greene quiet.

A pressure forward, turned utility player, Turner has been given roles across all lines this season and performed well in the unfamiliar territories of midfield and defence.

Last time he played at Blundstone, he had a career-high 27 disposals and 5 clearances against Melbourne while running through the midfield, but his grit and tenacity give him the perfect mentality to thrive in a run with role.

While Greene hasn’t played since Round 9, don’t think he won’t be a dangerous influence on the game.

A welcome immediate return for the injury-hit Giants, Greene will provide more than just leadership and experience for a team reeling from its recent 10 goal loss.

An All-Australian in 2016, Greene has kicked 22 goals from 9 games this season while averaging just under 20 disposals a game.

After his performances against Melbourne and Collingwood, it’s obvious Turner has the ability to be an effective influence in any area of the ground, but if he can find the football while blanketing the ever-dangerous Greene, it will go a long way to helping North win this clash.

The key men:

Cam Zurhaar and Tim Taranto

After enduring a difficult start to the 2021 season, Cam Zurhaar looks to have hit a strong vein of form heading into the bye.

Kicking 10 goals in his last five games, it’s no coincidence that North won the game in which Zurhaar was at his best – a scintillating 4 goal performance against the Hawks.

Quite simply, goals win football games, and when Zurhaar plays well he kicks goals.

North’s leading goal kicker in 2020, Zurhaar has played in the midfield and the backline at times this season, but he looks to have rediscovered his mojo in the forward half of the ground and is getting the service he needs to thrive.

One man on the opposition who provides brilliant service for his forwards is Tim Taranto, with the Giants’ midfielder currently ranked 12th in the AFL for disposals per game.

Averaging almost 30 touches and 9 clearances a game, Taranto is arguably in the midst of a breakout, career best season. 

He’s has slotted seamlessly into a strong Giants’ midfield containing the likes of Josh Kelly, Callan Ward and Lachie Whitfield and is arguably the man in form for GWS following his 36 touches and 6 tackles against Brisbane, and 25 disposals and 8 tackles against West Coast.

Taranto’s ability to find the football and tackle opponents will prove crucial in what will be a tight and contested midfield battle.


The stat:

Despite being one of the premier midfielders in the competition, there’s an argument to be made that North Melbourne is Lachie Whitfield’s bogey team.

In his five career games against North, Whitfield has never gathered more than 20 disposals, collecting that total in Round 23, 2016.

He’s also been a part of the winning side just once on those five occasions, with the Giants emerging victorious to the tune of 37 points in the aforementioned 2016 clash.

His four losses against North have an average losing margin of over 51 points, with his first game against the team in royal blue and white seeing his side go down by 86.

GWS has also won two of the three clashes with North over Whitfield’s career that he’s not played in, with the only loss being by 75 points in 2014, with Drew Petrie doing the damage and 5 goals.

History is not on Whitfield’s side heading into this clash, but North will be under no illusions that he’s more than a good enough player to change his fortunes against the side.