Who: North Melbourne Vs Greater Western Sydney
Where: Blundstone Arena, Hobart.
When: Sunday April 8, 1.10pm
Blundstone Arena will host Hobart’s first ever AFL game for premiership points.
North Melbourne has undertaken a long-term commitment to play two home games in the Tasmanian capital in an attempt to grow its membership and support base.
Interestingly enough, in 1891, when still known as the Hotham FC, North were the first ever Victorian side to visit the Apple Isle, playing games against Launceston and Hobart.
The Kangaroos come into the game after a heartbreaking two-point loss to the Bombers in round one.
Hamish Macintosh had the chance to fulfil every childhood footy fantasy and win it with a kick after the siren, but he missed the shot from 40 metres to give his side their third consecutive round one loss.
The usual suspects were prominent for North, with their evergreen games record holder Brett Harvey notching 21 touches and three goals, while Daniel Wells was the pick as best on ground, amassing 25 disposals, including five inside 50s.
North are still without Nathan Grima and Lachie Hansen from their best possible side and they will take two debutants to Tassie – tall Dustin Fletcher-esque defender Cameron Delaney and the club’s first 2011 draft pick, Sturt midfielder, Brad McKenzie getting a spot on the extended bench.
The Giants made a historic and honest debut in the inaugural Sydney Derby, showing lots of early bluster, before fading in the third quarter and ultimately losing by 63.
Great heart and hope can be taken from the fact that the Giants actually won the last quarter of the game, after facing a 64-point deficit at three-quarter time.
Despite getting spanked by 48 for inside 50s, the Giants only lost the clearance count by five, and won lots of ball in the middle, only to have a lack of structure and forward targets to kick to ahead of them.
The Giants welcome back some experienced campaigners in Dean Brogan and Luke Power, while marquee recruit and co-captain Tom Scully makes his debut in the middle, with Sam Reid adding some hardness and versatility to the team.
James McDonald will miss two weeks after his big bump on the Swans’ Luke Parker, in a scenario echoing the suspension of Campbell Brown’s four-week suspension from the Suns last season, where experienced players try to lead by physical example and overstep the mark.
While the Giants have undeniable raw talent across the park, North are a rough and ready unit and should prove too hard physically and at the ball for the fledgling Western Sydney side.
Drew Petrie will prove difficult to contain for the Giants, supported by the size and strength of Goldstein and Edwards, and the energy of Wells, Harvey and Swallow.
The Giants look solid down back, Chad Cornes, Power, Thomas Bugg – who racked up 28 touches last week – and Tasmanian Tim Mohr should keep them honest, and have a bit more support up-field. However, unless Dermott Brereton has been able to work miracles in a few days, the forward-line still looks shaky.
The Roos will be keen for a good showing to win over the hearts of Hobart and with more mature bodies and a good mix of speed and skill in the midfield, it should be a comfortable win.
Prediction: Roos by 51.
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