Shaun Higgins starred in North Melbourne’s win over Brisbane.
Shaun Higgins starred in North Melbourne’s win over Brisbane.

Proof Kangas are in premiership frame

CAN North Melbourne win the premiership?

It is a question worth asking. At the halfway mark of the season Brad Scott's team sits 7-4 with a monster percentage.

With that record it would be disrespectful to discount the Kangas.

Plenty will scoff at the thought. But some of those doubters will likely be sniggering in part to dampen the foolishness of their gloomy pre-season predictions.

The Roos have five remaining games against easy-beats Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and St Kilda.

Players are instructed to only ever look as far as the next week, but surely Scott has privately wondered whether that is a platform for a top-four finish.

 

Marley Williams celebrates a goal.
Marley Williams celebrates a goal.

 

Ben Jacobs feels the full force of a Mitch Robinson tackle.
Ben Jacobs feels the full force of a Mitch Robinson tackle.

 

From there they would be impossible to ignore. Perhaps North has slipped under the radar because they it is so far removed from Broadway.

The Roos don't appear on the Friday night stage in 2018 but in the early Sunday slot they displayed a killer edge, smashing the Brisbane Lions by 54 points at Etihad Stadium.

It was a procession for a half and then after a tight third quarter Dayne Beams booted four goals in the final term to restore a touch of respect.

But when Sam Wright kicked one of the goals of the year, laying on his backside about 8m out, the Roos led by 50 points before time-on in the second quarter.

At that stage the Kangas had generated 23 inside 50s for 19 scores. Every time they entered they looked dangerous.

There was open space and often open teammates literally queuing up.

 

Allen Christensen is KO’d in the first quarter.
Allen Christensen is KO’d in the first quarter.

 

Charlie Cameron injured his ankle. Picture: Michael Klein
Charlie Cameron injured his ankle. Picture: Michael Klein

 

The Kangas recorded their most handballs in a first half for eight years.

They flicked the footy around and made the Lions look slow. Shaun Higgins racked up 22 handball receives and had maximum Brownlow votes in the bag by half-time.

How was he possibly afforded so much space? Higgins cashed in with 38 disposals, six clearances and seven inside 50s.

Most of those entries were at the quality you'd expect from an All-Australian contender.

Commentator Danny Frawley wondered if there were two of him out there.

Inspirational captain Jack Ziebell was credited with two contested marks in the first quarter, when the game was briefly up for grabs.

Ziebell then jagged two goals on the run in the last quarter to top a long list of goalkickers.

Pleasingly, Jarrad Waite was a late withdrawal and Harris Andrews beat Ben Brown (two goals) and yet the Roos kicked their second-biggest score in 86 games (2013).

 

Sam Wright is congratulated after kicking a spectacular goal.
Sam Wright is congratulated after kicking a spectacular goal.

 

Luke McDonald celebrates a goal.
Luke McDonald celebrates a goal.

 

There were 14 goalkickers, with defender Robbie Tarrant's deadly set-shot giving him just his third major since 2013.

Two of Alex Witherden's kick-outs sailed back over his head for goals and the score worm travelled north at a rate which was as constant as it was rapid for the entire first half.

The Kangaroos boast the AFL's second-best defence, they play in high-pressure games and Champion Data says they are the hardest team to move the ball against.

North Melbourne has recorded a percentage greater than 125 in just four seasons - 1974, 1983, 1994 and 1996.

In those years they achieved a Grand Final, preliminary final, preliminary final and won the premiership.

It is currently 125.1.

With the lack of a super power, such as Hawthorn or Geelong in the modern era, could it be North Melbourne's year?

There's no harm in asking.

 

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