Three wins on the bounce, that’s North Melbourne’s form line after a difficult start to the VFL season, with the side surging up the ladder to put itself just one win outside of the finals places.
Goalkicking was the difference, with North having 10 players hit the score sheet with majors, on its way to a superbly accurate 14 goals and four behinds.
One of those players was Bailey Scott, whose goal on the run from 55 metres was arguably the pick of the game, with the returning number eight anxious to showcase his AFL qualities.
Scott finished the game with 31 disposals, 7 clearances, 6 tackles and 1 goal in an all-around brilliant performance in the midfield.
VFL coach Leigh Adams says Scott’s ability to win both contested and uncontested ball is exactly what he needed to show against Werribee to push his chances of a senior recall.
“His (Scott's) ability to come back and be able to go inside and work on his contested stuff was fantastic today,” Adams told North Media.
“His mix between offence and defence was good, his mix between getting the uncontested footy and working hard in the contest was really good.
“He’s been in a little bit of a rut by his own admission in the AFL side … I’m really happy he’s got himself back into some good form.”
Sing it loud and proud boys! Well deserved ???? pic.twitter.com/0YXIVTUjmf— North Melbourne VFL (@NorthVFL) June 26, 2021
On his return from injury, Jared Polec’s experience shone through with the wingman registering 29 disposals.
While it was Polec’s first appearance since early April, Adams says he was impressed in Polec’s ability to get himself in good positions when the pressure was on.
“He seems to be fine, ‘Polly’. He was good for us today,” Adams said.
“He’s a very smart player, he’s a good ball-user, he puts himself in good positions to get the ball and at times late in the game when we were under a bit of pressure he was able to find the right decision and hit targets.
“I was pretty happy with his game today.”
Eddie Ford’s run of strong form has continued, with the forward once again kicking 2 goals enroute to a North victory.
Ford has kicked two goals in each of North’s VFL wins this season, with the young forward also averaging over 17 disposals across the three contests.
“I’m glad he’s (Ford) starting to have a bit of reward for his effort, because his work-rate is so big,” Adams said.
“We were getting smacked earlier in the year and the ball wasn’t getting in our forward line much, so on the stats sheet to probably didn’t look like he was having much of an impact.
“He’s getting better each week and our improved delivery and ball use helps him get on the end of it.
“I don’t think he’s too far away from senior footy with the way he’s playing. He’s doing a great job at the moment.”
A number of North’s VFL-listed players made big contributions in the victory, with co-vice-captain Kade Answerth setting the defensive tone in midfield.
Answerth finished with a ridiculous 14 tackles for the day, keeping the pressure on Weribee’s midfield in a tough inside battle.
“The great thing about our VFL team is they buy in so well,” Adams said.
“Kade was fantastic, Flynn Appleby set us up really well behind the footy, Harry Jones who’s been playing half-back all year we put inside today and he had 30 touches and 11 clearances.
“Jack Watkins continued to do a job for us, Connor Byrne plays a really disciplined role ... we’ve just got really good people in our VFL program that want us to win and want us to do well.
“When you get those types of guys around then you’re halfway there, and when you can put the AFL-listed talent we have coming back from injury, we get results like we did today.”
Much like Answerth, Charlie Lazzaro had no struggles laying tackles throughout the clash, with the young midfielder finishing with 17 disposals and 9 tackles in a strong and disciplined performance.
“By his (Lazzaro's) own admission he wasn’t happy with his game last week … but his ability to play a bit of wing and a bit inside for us today was fantastic.” Adams said.
“His start to the game was really good possession-wise, but then late in the game his ability to play a role and get involved and put some defensive pressure on and get contested possessions was fantastic.”
Tom Campbell once again played a leading role in North’s win, with early injuries meaning he spent 100 per cent time on the ground in the ruck, battling with former AFL players Wylie Buzza and Matthew Lobbe.
Up against Lobbe, who played 100 games for Port Adelaide and Carlton, for much of the contest, Campbell finished with 19 disposals, 1 goal and a massive 49 hitouts.
“His (Campbell's) attitude’s great, he’s doing everything he can to get better, I think he’s going to be ready once that opportunity comes,” Adams added.
“We’d love to get him a bit more forward time so he can show that but when you’re two down and he has to ruck all day you probably can’t but I don’t think there’s much more he can do.
“[He] did a great job against two rucks in Lobbe and Buzza so his game was fantastic. To play a full game in the ruck was huge.”
North Melbourne: 14.4.88
Bailey Scott - 31 disposals, 6 tackles, 7 clearances, 1 goal
Jared Polec - 29 disposals, 4 clearances
Tom Campbell - 19 disposals, 6 clearances, 49 hitouts, 1 goal
Charlie Lazzaro - 17 disposals, 9 tackles
Eddie Ford - 16 disposals, 5 tackles, 1 hitout, 2 goals
Connor Menadue - 16 disposals, 1 goal
Kyron Hayden - 14 disposals, 6 marks
Patrick Walker - 13 disposals
Charlie Ham - 12 disposals, 4 tackles
Best of VFL-listed
Harry Jones - 30 disposals, 11 clearances
Josh Clayton - 30 disposals, 5 marks, 6 clearances, 1 goal
Flynn Appleby - 24 disposals, 7 marks
Kade Answerth - 20 disposals, 14 tackles