It was a historic Friday night, with the first ever game on Good Friday finally going ahead. Both sides gave it everything and didn’t leave anything out on the field. The game itself was not a classic, as both teams gave the other team a chance with poor skill errors being the theme. In the end, the Bulldogs just survived to pull off a nail-biting three-point win.
Disposal efficiency, which has been North Melbourne’s biggest problem for the year, was again a problem, only hitting the target at 73 percent. The Western Bulldogs went at 80 percent, which proved crucial.
It was another disappointing loss for North, after giving up another five-goal lead in the third quarter, for the second time in three weeks.
Lindsay Thomas had an opportunity to win the game with the last kick of the game but narrowly missed. It would have been a memorable 200th game for the often controversial small forward. It wasn’t to be, and North Melbourne slipped to its fourth loss in four weeks, while the Bulldogs went to 3-1. The Bulldogs would be happy, knowing they’ve done enough to get another win, despite being well below their best.
Luke Dahlhaus was best on ground with 32 possessions, two goals and six tackles.
The first quarter was dominated early by the Bulldogs who had numerous inside 50 entries. They couldn't capitalise on them, failing to take a mark and North Melbourne was able to take advantage through the ruck work from Todd Goldstein. Jack Ziebell had nine possessions, and Ben Cunnington had ten to give North a two-point lead at quarter-time.
The second quarter was often tough to watch with continuous turnovers. It almost felt like Matthew Suckling and Taylor Garner were playing for the opposition with some of the things they were doing. North held the Bulldogs goalless but only kicked two goals themselves. The Bulldogs seemed to be struggling, particularly in the middle of the ground, losing clearances and having Tom Boyd out of the game with a concussion. Tom Campbell was also experiencing ankle soreness but returned in the second half. North held an 11 point lead at the half.
The third quarter opened up fantastically for North kicking the first three goals to open up a 29 point lead. The Bulldogs than answered the challenge mainly through the work of Dahlhaus and Marcus Bontempelli to kick five unanswered goals and take the lead. They both had nine possessions for the quarter and were influential in the comeback. Jackson Macrae and Toby Maclean both had good quarters as well. North was able to regain the lead late, with a Kayne Turner goal.
The last quarter was topsy-turvy. The lead changed five times, and both teams had chances to win the game. In the end, the Bulldogs were just too good and hung on for a memorable and historic three-point win. It was a great game, and the Bulldogs deserved to win on overall balance.
Shaun Atley: 6/10
Played a role on Lachie Hunter and was good. Kept the classy and dangerous midfielder to 19 possessions. Would have liked to have seen him take the game on more with his pace and line-breaking ability.
Lachlan Hansen: 6/10
Rotated on the big forwards through the night and didn’t lose a one on one contest all game. Only had the nine possessions but went at 100 percent efficiency. He is having a very good year and has become reliable.
Aaron Mullet: 7/10
Two good weeks in a row and is starting to repay the club's faith. He had 24 possessions at 96 percent efficiency, with seven rebound 50s. Hopefully, he continues to grow and is one of the best ball users by foot.
Marley Williams: 5/10
Has had a very consistent year. Takes the opposition's best small forwards every week and seems to do his job without too much fuss. He has a few nervy moments with the ball but tends to pick the right option most times.
Scott Thompson: 6/10
Showed great character, especially after a couple of early errors to bounce back and have a good game. Played on the dangerous Jake Stringer, who kicked two goals. He had seven intercept possessions with five tackles.
Jamie McMillan: 6/10
Gave the team plenty of drive and defended really well with seven intercept possessions and 612 metres gained. I’d like to see him get more of the ball in the forward half of the ground (zero inside 50's), rather than the back half.
Robbie Tarrant: 6/10
Kept Travis Cloke to one goal and played a much more defensive game than the previous two weeks, with 14 possessions. Laid ten tackles, which is very high for a full back.
Lindsay Thomas: 4/10
Kicked 0.3 and only went at 56 percent disposal efficiency. The last 30 seconds of the game summed it up for him with a terrible inside 50 entry and a miss on goal to win the game. Has now kicked 2.6 for the year.
Todd Goldstein: 6/10
Bounced back after a disappointing game last week. Spent the majority of the game in the ruck and had 21 possessions, with 29 hit outs. Tried to work over Tom Campbell around the ground, knowing Tom Boyd went off early with a concussion.
Trent Dumont: 5/10
Had a team-high five inside 50s to go along with 20 possessions. Only had the two turnovers for the game which is a big improvement from previous weeks.
Shaun Higgins: 5/10
A little bit of a down game for “Missy”. Kicked 1.3 and only had the 19 possessions. Laid six tackles and showed his courage in the last quarter with a marking attempt that led to a Jack Ziebell goal.
Andrew Swallow: 6 /10
Best game for the year for him. There are signs that the game is becoming a bit quick for him, just taking that extra second to make a decision. Laid a team-high 11 tackles and had 18 possessions.
Ben Brown: 6/10
Kicked four goals and got over the back a couple of times to get a couple of cheapies. Needs to tell players in front of him to get out of his space. Taylor Garner and Lindsay Thomas got in his way on a couple of marking attempts.
Kayne Turner: 6/10
Played a defensive half forward role on Jason Johannisen and did well. Kicked two goals and tried to restrict Johannisen’s run and carry. Has kicked seven goals in four games, which is a good return for a small forward.
Jack Ziebell: 6/10
27 possession, including 17 contested is a good game and really tried to lead from the front. 48 percent disposal efficiency hurt his game, including eight direct turnovers. Escaped trouble after a late hit on Travis Cloke was not assessed as suspendable by the MRP.
Nathan Hrovat: 6/10
Played up the ground a lot more and showed his class on occasions with great handballs to release players into space. Hopefully, he continues that form into next week against Fremantle.
Braydon Pruess: 5/10
Spent a lot of time up forward with Goldstein playing in the ruck. Has great body strength around stoppages with his big frame. Needs to work on a partnership with Goldstein, so they can both become as effective as each other.
Jy Simpkin: 5/10
Kicked two goals and did one the best baulks on the boundary line I’ve ever seen on Matthew Boyd. Unfortunately, it was paid out of bounds. Seems to be growing in confidence every week and the club will continue to play him which is fantastic for his development.
Taylor Garner: 4/10
Would have been a five rating but that hairstyle is terrible and bought it back to a four. Butchered the ball a lot, only going at 48 percent efficiency. He kept battling hard and was rewarded with a good goal in the last quarter. I just hope he does something with that hair this week.
Sam Gibson: 5/10
Seems to be doing the same thing every week. No fuss with 20 possessions and worked hard to get into space to provide that link-up option. Laid five tackles as well.
Luke McDonald: 5/10
Attacks the ball on the ground similar to Glenn Archer. Disappointed in his effort against Matthew Suckling to give away a contested mark in the last quarter, especially for a guy who doesn’t have a reputation for taking them. Laid the six tackles with 17 possessions to have a decent game.
Ben Cunnington: 8/10
33 possessions, 23 handballs, with ten score involvements. Seems to be running games out a lot better this year as well. I’d still like to see him kick the ball more but I couldn’t fault his game or effort. Is averaging 7.7 kicks and 19.7 handballs a game this year.
3. B. Cunnington
2. A. Mullet
1. J. Ziebell
6. S. Higgins
5. B. Cunnington
5. J. Ziebell
2. L. Hansen
2. B. Pruess
2. T. Goldstein
2. A. Mullet