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Roos Celebrate (file photo/AFANA)

The North Melbourne Kangaroos withstood a late West Coast Eagles revival to win their first game of the season. The Kangaroos were hungrier than the Eagles and fought harder for the ball for most of the day, winning contested possessions (152 to 137) and laying more tackles (84-62) to create an upset win over the home team. Although the combination of the Eagles' two ruckmen, Matt Flynn and Bailey J Williams, had the edge over North Melbourne's ruckman Tristan Xerri, the Kangaroos were good at stoppages winning forty-eight clearances, which was eighteen more than West Coast. Despite having the edge in the midfield for most of the match, the Kangaroos fell down in attack by initially bombing the ball high to their forwards which suited the intercept skills of the Eagle defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass who shut down many early attacks with their spoiling skills.

The first quarter was a game of the defenses, with the midfields breaking even but neither side able to capitalize as defenders kept the ball away from the goals. Jeremy McGovern and Liam Duggan were standouts in defense for the Eagles while Zac Fisher and Harry Sheezel worked hard when in defense for the visitors. Darcy Tucker and Jy Simpkin were busy early for North Melbourne but most of the work was either in defense or the midfield. The Eagles' midfielders had a quiet first quarter although Campbell Chesser and Elliot Yeo gained some leather but were largely ineffective. The Eagles missed some gettable shots early and that set the theme for most of their day. The only goal by either team came in the last minute of the term when Jack Darling received a free kick at a boundary throw in close to goal.

Darling Goals
Jack Darling (file photo/AFANA)

The second quarter became a dour struggle riddled with mistakes and turnovers. North Melbourne continued to apply pressure around the ball and won more contested possessions as they got numbers to the ball. North dominated at stoppages but lacked the class to do much with the ball. After seven minutes had passed Jaidyn Stephenson snapped a goal after North had forced the ball forward through sheer effort. A free kick and a fifty-meter penalty gave the Eagles a quick reply, courtesy of Jamie Cripps. North continued to get first use of the ball at clearances as Xerri, George Wardlaw, and Simpkin dominated the clearances and Zac Fisher picked up plenty of possessions. Eventually this midfield dominance paid off, with goals in the last part of the quarter to Nick Larkey (two goals), and Cameron Zurhaar to have the Roos in front at the main break.

North continued with their aggressive attack on the ball after the main break. Nick Larkey got on top of Barrass in the forward line and booted three unanswered goals with his own boot as he proved too mobile for Barrass. Zac Fisher gathered the ball at will and Harry Sheezel and Jy Simpkin were again busy around the ground, while Luke Davies-Uniacke showed his class when sending the ball forward. Jeremy McGovern worked overtime in defense for the Eagles, and he was well supported by Alex Witherden who was steady in the last line of defense. The Eagles managed to make one more forward fifty entry [past the 50-meter arc] than the Kangaroos in this quarter, but their kicking for goal was terrible and they could only add six behinds (worth a point each).

AFL Fremantle v Kangaroos, 2018 Optus Stadium.
Roos celebrate (file photo/AFANA)

In the first minute of the final term Simpkin booted a fifty-meter goal for the visitors, to seemingly put the game out of the Eagles reach. However, the Eagles flicked the switch and began to compete. It was mainly Elliot Yeo winning at stoppages or forcing errors from the younger Kangaroo players. Liam Ryan was also moved to the midfield for the Eagles and he offered some pace and desperation which lit up those around him. It was now the Eagles turn to win clearances and charge forward. After booting just two goals in three miserable quarters of football they added six goals in twenty-one minutes to hit the lead with seven minutes to play. Three goals to Waterman and one each to Flynn, Yeo, and even the defender Witherden, had brought the previously subdued Eagles crowd to life. However, the Kangaroos were good enough to rebound. A controversial free kick to Jy Simpkin was converted to a goal and then Paul Curtis, dodged in a pack and snapped to boot the final goal with ninety seconds left on the clock. The Eagles charged forward again but a kick from McGovern only registered a behind. The Roos slowed the game down and held on to win.

Next week, the Kangaroos meet the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG, where another surprise win for the Roos is highly unlikely. The Eagles will have a week's break before fronting up to the Essendon Bombers at the same venue. The Eagles have not traveled well this year and will not have very high expectations against Essendon

West Coast Eagles"         1.4  2.9  2.15  8.17 (65)
North Melbourne Kangaroos: 0.1  4.5  8.6  11.8  (74)

West Coast Eagles:         Yeo, McGovern, Witherden, Cripps,
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Larkey, Fisher, Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke, Sheezel

West Coast Eagles:         Waterman 3, Darling, Cripps, Flynn, Yeo, Witherden, Duggan
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Larkey 5, Simpkin 2, Sheezel, Stephenson, Zurhaar, Curtis


Article last changed on Monday, June 10, 2024 - 2:19 AM EDT

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