Round 17 Preview: Port Adelaide vs North Melbourne


Written by Franz Inot (@FranzInot) on 15 July 2017   

North Melbourne travels to Adelaide to take on a Port Adelaide side who definitely should not take their opponents lightly (forgive my optimism). Following yet another close loss last week, this time to Fremantle, North are second last at 4-11, their season all but finished. Meanwhile, Port can put distance between them and the chasing pack and consolidate their spot in the top four with a victory on Saturday afternoon.  This will be the 32nd clash between the sides, with North holding the head-to-head advantage 21-10.

Last Time We Met

Our last game against Port will forever be remembered for that utterly ridiculous deliberate rushed behind decision early in the game. Or at least it's what I'd like to remember it by given how the rest of the afternoon played out.

It was another disappointing afternoon, right in the middle of our disastrous second half of 2016. Brent Harvey was perhaps the only positive from the match, collecting 29 disposals and scoring two goals as Port won by 22 points.

Team Changes

In: Cameron Zurhaar

Out: Trent Dumont (Omitted)

Adelaide Oval

Our annual game against Port will be played at the Adelaide Oval, the stadium everyone seems to rave about. I've never really seen the appeal, but it's probably because we have a 0-4 record there with an average losing margin of 52 points. For context, Adelaide and Port Adelaide moved to the stadium in 2014, the same period we were firmly in premiership contention.

How we yearn for the days of the old Football Park where we had a very respectable 12-17 record.

Daniel Nielson

In a season of disappointment, a bit of silver lining for North this year has been how impressive its youth has been this year. Daniel Nielson was the seventh young Roo to make his debut this year, and he did it the long way, coming off an ACL rupture in his first year and an inordinate amount of injuries in his second.

Nielson looked comfortable and a natural footballer and despite being slightly small for a key defender, he's rarely beaten one-on-one. Obviously, the goal for Nielson for the remainder of the year will be to cement his spot in the team and build momentum for an assault on 2018.

With Nielson and fellow 2014 draftees Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin, North will have a formidable defence for many years to come.

Honourable Losses (again)

After last weekend, North under Brad Scott are 3-17 in "close games". It is both promising and agonising to think we could be right in the mix for a top four spot if we could just close out games. It seems as though every time the opposition gets within two goals, all on-field leadership vanishes, our skills drop off a cliff and they will always run over the top of us.

There is a confidence issue within the playing group which might only be cured by winning a close game.

Prediction

The only good memories at Adelaide Oval for North fans are in the summer. Port Adelaide by 27 points.

Where and when

Saturday, 15 July 2017, 1:40 PM ACST (2:10 PM AEST) @ Adelaide Oval


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