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In a fitting opening to the Doug Nicholls Round, the haunting voice of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu spread calm around a near empty, misty Docklands stadium. Meanwhile, the Narrm players, quietly warming up pre-game, seemed to take on the same calmness for their upcoming task against North Melbourne. Sure, this was the top of the ladder premiership side playing the lowly cellar dweller, but this Demons side is now one who just quietly go about their job, and slowly ever so slowly and calmly take the opposition apart. It may not please the fans who had spent so long in the wilderness witnessing the demolition of their own side by the juggernauts of the past, wanting so much to return the favour. But this is a side that is focussed not just on winning, but on the end game in a season which is not yet half way through. Yet those fans who still suffer the lingering symptoms of MFCSS, thought it was coming back again, as North closed the gap at one stage to six points, but then Narrm just took a deep breath and pushed the final margin out to 47 points. North certainly brought their pressure game along, and were causing damage not just on the scoreboard, but a heavy hit to Ed Langdon early in the first quarter, saw him moving very gingerly around the ground until he was substituted at ¼ time by Toby Bedford. There would have been even more calm about the demolition of the opposition if the Demons had managed to kick straight with 30 shots on goal to 13. Christian Petracca continues to have the yips once inside easy range, and perhaps needs some of the calming lessons around goal-kicking that Tom McDonald and Bailey Fritsch exude. Both of these put through three goals for the side and TMac in particular has left no doubt about holding his place in the side. Strong contested marking and workrate is what defines his output, which is what Simon Goodwin expects from all his players. In the middle, Jack Viney was definitely missed, but fortunately Clayton Oliver stepped up with an astounding 45 disposals, half of which were contested. Again and again he was able to extract the ball where others couldn’t and where in all honesty he had no right to be able to do. Petracca calmly contributed 30 disposals, although throughout the game he seemed hampered, he also having taken a couple of serious hits from the North players. But then Tom Sparrow also chipped in to fill the Viney void, and amassed 20 touches including eight contested. The prodigious depth of his kicking is similar to his mentor’s in the middle, so when they get the ball it is almost invariably sent deep into attack. Once again the backs did their job. Jake Lever seemed back to his ruthless best with seven intercept marks, while Steven May drove the North faithful mad with his physical strength and marking prowess to record eight intercepts, and kept their main target in Larkey to a solitary goal. The defensive team once again held the opposition to a score below 60 which helped to improve Naarm’s percentage a bit more. The loss of Langdon was really telling however. With the structures that have been set up, he has been that option as an outlet in addition to his elite running power. With his loss, Melksham was moved to the wing, and provided little to the team, with only seven disposals and one tackle. Were he not closing on 200 games, he wouldn’t be playing, especially when compared to James Jordon on the other wing who produced 22 disposals and over 500 metres gained for the side. Now 10 wins into the season and 17 successive victories to Narrm and Jake Bowey the calmness continues to pervade the side. No Viney, Salem, Hibberd, Harmes or Langdon….no worries, just go about the job and hand, play your role and the results keep on coming. With a clash against top of the table contenders Fremantle next week, we will finally get a true handle on where the sides sit. In the weeks to come, games against Sydney and Brisbane will provide even more of an insight. It is said that calm happens before the storm, but with 17 successive wins including a Premiership, the calm has come after the storm for the team from Narrm. For others, the fear is that this team is just building up to their next storm. NARRM 4.4.28 8.9.57 10.13.73 14.16.100 NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0.18 6.1.37 8.3.51 8.5.53 GOALS NARRM Fritsch McDonald 3 Pickett 2 Bedford Gawn Langdon Melksham Rivers Sparrow NORTH MELBOURNE Zurhaar 3 Goldstein Horne-Francis Larkey Xerri Ziebell BEST NARRM Oliver Petracca Sparrow McDonald Jordon Fritsch NORTH MELBOURNE Davies-Uniacke Scott McDonald Zurhaar Goldstein INJURIES NARRM Ed Langdon (ribs) NORTH MELBOURNE Curtis Taylor (ribs) REPORTS NARRM Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil SUBSTITUTES NARRM Toby Bedford (replaced Langdon) NORTH MELBOURNE Atu Bosenavulagi (replaced Taylor in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Craig Fleer Cameron Dore Eleni Glouftsis CROWD 13,422 at Marvel Stadium
Narrm Time has arrived in our city as the Melbourne Football Club takes the name Narrm Football Club as part of the 2022 AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round. This week will see the reigning premier pay respect to the region the club calls home — the land of the Wurundjeri people and their culture, language and memory. The team will wear its indigenous guernsey designed by Wurundjeri/Dja Dja Wurrung artist Ky-ya Nicholson Ward and what better way to wear it than with a win over North Melbourne Football Club? The Kangaroos will be buoyed by the return of a couple of quality midfielders and ruckman Tristan Xerri so they will by no means be the easybeats that many in the football world expect to witness in this game. We learned the lesson last year when the teams locked horns in Tasmania and the bottom-of-the-ladder Roos gave the Demons an almighty scare for three quarters and a bit before they took the ascendancy and won by five goals which was way less than what many would have anticipated. This time, the Demons will be wary to ensure that they don’t get jumped early so the aim will be to assert maximum pressure from the first bounce that will likely see two wily veterans in Max Gawn and Todd Goldstein facing off against each other. While that contest might be even for a while, the Narrm midfield should be too strong for North. The very word “Narrm” rhymes with “harm” and harm is exactly what the combination of Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney is calculated to do to opposing midfields during game time. And as the contest rolls on, the hustle and bustle of the high half forwards of Narrm and their tall goal kicking beasts in attack, who know what their counterparts from Casey did against the VFL Kangaroos down the road at Arden Street less than a week ago, should be highly motivated to kick a big score. After all, they have to satisfy the critics who proclaimed after their game at Optus Stadium that a score of 16.16.112 simply wasn’t enough! For my part a 74-point victory every time the team leaves Narrm and travels to Perth (as it has now on the last two occasions) is good enough for me. That’s probably due also to the brilliance of the defence which, even with a few important cogs missing, boasts the likes of Steven May, Jake Lever and Harry Petty backed up by the run of Jake Bowey, Jayden Hunt, Trent Rivers and the courage of Angus Brayshaw, should give the Kangaroos nightmares of Narrm. I’m not wishing to belittle North Melbourne. They’re doing it tough right at the moment as they embark on their rebuild but … … since memory is so important in the traditions of our first people, I’m reminded of one particular day almost a decade ago as the team from Narrm was about to embark on its own rebuild. It was way back in Round 18, 2013 when they took on North Melbourne at the Docklands in front of 16,962 fans. The Demons were undermanned and trailled by only 25 points at half time. After the break North Melbourne showed them no mercy and finished off winning by 122 points — 22.18.150 to 4.4.28. In a year when 15 goal thumpings were inflicted every second week and that loss to North was almost five goals shy of the team’s biggest defeat, the humiliation felt by Demon fans on leaving the ground was still palpable. I don’t think it’s necessary to replicate that nightmare result in revenge against North this week because Narrm has a lot more work to do in the months to come. However, it can show its respect for the game and its opponent, maintain an eye on the bigger picture and still remember the dark days of the past while showing no mercy to record another big win on Saturday evening. And a margin of 74 points will do. THE GAME North Melbourne v Narrm on Sunday 21 May, 2022 at Marvel Stadium at 4.35pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 82 wins Narrm 86 wins 1 draw At Marvel Stadium North Melbourne 8 wins Narrm 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 2 wins Narrm 3 wins The coaches Noble 0 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Narrm 16.7.103 defeated North Melbourne 11.7.73 at Blundstone Arena, Round 7, 2021 The fans were anticipating a massacre when the undefeated Demons travelled to the Apple Isle to take on the lowly Kangaroos but they were in for a surprise. It took them until the last quarter to finally shake off a determined outfit led by an inspirational performance from Ben Cunnington. It was the goal kicking prowess of Bayley Fritsch (6) and Kysaiah Pickett (3) that saw Melbourne through to the comfort of a 5 goal win in the end. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B: K.Turner 28 A.Corr 4 L.McDonald 11 HB: B.Scott 8 J.Walker 19 L.Young 17 C: H.Greenwood 18 L.Davies-Uniacke 9 F.Perez 39 HF: J.Horne-Francis 6 N.Larkey 20 P.Curtis 25 F: J.Ziebell 7 C.Zurhaar 44 J.Anderson 3 Foll: T.Goldstein 22 J.Simpkin 12 T.Thomas 26 I/C: K.Hayden 37 T.Powell 24 C.Taylor 5 T.Xerri 38 Sub: A.Bosenavulagi 15 Emerg: J.Archer 34 C.Coleman-Jones 21 J.Stephenson 2 In: H.Greenwood J.Horne-Francis J.Simpkin T.Xerri Out: C.Coleman-Jones (omitted) C.Lazzaro (omitted) J.Mahony (ankle) J.Stephenson (omitted) NARRM B: J. Hunt 29 H.Petty 35 T.Rivers 24 HB: J.Lever 8 S.May 1 J.Jordon 23 C: T.Sparrow 32 L.Dunstan 27 E.Langdon 15 HF: A.Neal-Bullen 30 B.Brown 50 C.Petracca 5 F: T.McDonald 25 L.Jackson 6 B.Fritsch 31 Foll: M.Gawn 11 C.Oliver 13 K.Pickett 36 I/C: J.Bowey 17 A.Brayshaw 10 J.Melksham 18 C.Spargo 9 Sub: T.Bedford 12 Emerg: B.Laurie 16 A.Tomlinson 20 S.Weideman 26 In: T.Bedford L.Dunstan J.Melksham Out: K.Chandler (suspended) J.Harmes (hamstring) J.Viney (hamstring) Injury and Suspension List: Round 10 Andy Moniz-Wakefield - Concussion | Test Christian Salem - Knee | 1 Week Jack Viney - Hamstring | TBC Kade Chandler - Suspension | 2 Weeks Michael Hibberd - Calf | 2 Weeks James Harmes - Hamstring | 2-3 Weeks Joel Smith - Ankle | 7-8 Weeks Blake Howes - Foot | 8-10 weeks