North Melbourne was put to the sword in a one-sided contest against the Fremantle Dockers in their Round 8 clash in Perth. The visiting Kangaroos were never a threat and showed the same inconsistency that has haunted them over the past few seasons. Just when fans think that North might be a contender, the players fall and stumble at the hurdles that teams like Fremantle throw up at them. It is hard to predict which Kangaroos' side is going to take the paddock from week to week and for this game the wrong side turned up. North Melbourne was belted from pillar to post and looked second rate against a more skilled and disciplined Fremantle unit.
Fremantle has fashioned what they call “The Blast” - a concerted effort to get off to a fast start and put their opponents on the back foot. "The Blast" has been a feature of the Dockers' play over the past few rounds and worked a treat again against the Kangaroos with three unanswered Fremantle goals to start the game. It wasn’t for lack of heart on North’s part as they had players like Drew Petrie and “Boomer” Harvey running hard and presenting up for marks. Big ruckman Todd Goldstein worked tirelessly in an excellent solo performance against Aaron Sandilands, holding his own for most of the match.
Fremantle always seemed to be in the right spot when the ball dropped. The taller forwards had great understanding of who was going to lead, mark or go for the ball. The smaller forwards in Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters stood front and center at any contest to collect any "crumbs" (loose balls) off the pack and finished up with five goals between them, four to Walters. Things fell away even more for North in the second half where they had eight goals kicked against them and scored only a solitary major.
Fremantle never let the pressure up as they have been accused of in earlier rounds. It is a testament to the Dockers' fitness coaches who have turned them into a running machine which leaves opponents lumbering and puffing hard in pursuit. The Dockers dismantled the Kangaroos with their fast accurate ball movement, often from end to end without their opponents touching the ball. North were at times their own worst enemy as they butchered simple shots on goals, the worse miss being one by Jack Ziebell who missed from 20 meters out, kicking the ball out of bounds on the full.
At the end of the match North Melbourne were out on their legs. They had been run all over the ground. Their minus 80 in uncontested possessions showed that Fremantle’s work rate in running into position and leading at the ball was a magnitude superior. Coupled with the Kangaroos' atrocious turnover rate - where they gave up 80 points to their own 23 gained - showed that they were outclassed and steamrolled.
Fremantle is now in heady waters with a solid percentage and eight wins in a row. North Melbourne will need to have a good hard think about where they are and what they need to do to turn their season around with more consistent efforts against good teams. Nat Fyfe was best man on the ground with a personal best of 37 possessions in his landmark 100th game and is burning up the race for the Brownlow Medal.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 5.3 9.8 13.11 17.13 (115) North Melbourne: 1.1 4.4 5.6 5.12 (42) Best Players Fremantle: Fyfe, Mundy, Walters, Barlow, Sandilands North Melbourne: Harvey, Goldstein, Petrie, Cunnington
Article last changed on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 6:24 AM EDT