In the eyes of North Melbourne fans, Saturday’s Round 21 clash with Richmond, while disappointing in the final result, had one stand out positive. The coming of age of Luke Davies-Uniacke.
While the continued absence of Ben Cunnington would weaken any midfield in the AFL, the way in which Davies-Uniacke and fellow midfielders Jed Anderson and Jy Simpkin have stepped up has been immense.
‘LDU’ put together arguably the best game of his young career, obliterating his previous career-high of 28 disposals, set just two weeks prior to Round 21, with 38 touches against the Tigers.
He wasn’t just acting as an accumulator though, with the young midfielder responsible for not only driving the ball forward, but winning it back.
His 390 metres gained was enough to rank third for the Kangaroos across the clash, while his 6 intercept possessions tied second in the team.
Often known for his work in the contest, Davies-Uniacke’s ability to find the uncontested football also set a new career benchmark, as he finished with 31 uncontested possessions.
He was efficient too, registering 31 effective disposals at 82 per cent efficiency.
David Noble says Davies-Uniacke’s performance is a credit to his hard work on the training track.
“He’s really developed his craft … for that to escalate to today is a credit to him, he’s putting in a lot of hard work,” Noble said.
“The element I’ve been really pleased with his is general play. The component of offence and defence away from stoppage.
“Mids get an extra bunch of chances around the ground to set up and get more possessions in stoppage, but I’ve really loved watching his growth in transition.
“When the ball is in dispute, he’s learnt really quickly.”
It wasn’t just Davies-Uniacke who was an impressive influence in the middle of the ground though, as North’s whole midfield took the fight to Richmond.
The Kangaroos won the first five centre clearances of the clash in a dominant first quarter display, and while it didn’t translate to the scoreboard, they ended up dominating the clearance count 32-20.
The four highest clearance winners for the game were Kangaroos. Anderson led all comers with 8, while Simpkin, Todd Goldstein and ‘LDU’ finished with 5 each.
Simpkin’s 34 disposal performance has gone somewhat under the radar due to the brilliance of Davies-Uniacke against Richmond, while Anderson finished with a combative 25 touches of his own.