North Melbourne earned a rare distinction in its dissection of the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium in the first Semi-Final. The Kangaroos are the only team in League history to make a Preliminary Final from eighth position after making Sydney look all at sea as they ran over them by more than four goals. Sydney never fired a shot in a scrappy and congested game that got away from them and saw some poor decision making by their coach. Sydney had two marquee players in their forward line at the start of the season and all that was required was for one of them to step up each week to be the focal point of their attack. Buddy Franklin was arguably the best but he has not been available in the Finals due to undisclosed mental health issues. That left Kurt Tippett. Coach Longmire inexplicably chose to start Tippett in the ruck and kept him there for long periods of time. This left the Swans' Premiership ruckman Mike Pike wandering around lost at the half forward line, not really knowing what he was supposed to be doing, except for running into opponents and generally being ineffective. It was a decision that cost Sydney scoring chances early in the game and eventually came back to haunt them the longer the game progressed.
Goals were hard to come by and only a total of eight had been scored up until half time. Of those the Kangaroos had five, one each to five individual goal kickers. "Boomer" Harvey was up to his old tricks as he turned back the clock and ran riot around the ground - not bad for a man with over 400 games under his belt. Harvey was helped out when Jarrad Waite turned on the skills in the forward end, kicking goals and making the Sydney defenders lives difficult.
North saved their best for last when they buried Sydney under a torrent of tackling and crisp ball movement. Sydney midfielder Josh Kennedy tried his best to stem the tide but he was effectively a one man band against a relentless Kangaroo team which could smell blood in the water. North Melbourne kicked away with four goals to two in the final quarter and went on to win a memorable game by over four goals.
The Kangaroos are a formidable side that is peaking just at the right moment. They are showing that they are not in the Finals by default nor are they there to make up the numbers. They take on a rested and in form West Coast Eagles next week and will need all their skills and tricks to win and move into the Grand Final.
Scoreboard North: 2.3 5.6 7.8 11.11 (77) Sydney: 2.1 3.3 5.7 7.4 (51) Best Players North: Cunnington, Higgins, Harvey, Waite, Ziebell Sydney: Kennedy, Rampe, Goodes, Tippett
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 9:33 PM EDT