The first ever edition of Good Friday footy is finally upon us. North Melbourne is yet to register a victory in 2017 despite some promising performances while the Western Bulldogs recorded their first loss of the season, going down to a rejuvenated Fremantle side last week. This clash will be the 158th time the teams have met. The winner will edge ahead in the overall head-to-head with both clubs currently sitting at 77 wins apiece with three draws.
Last time we met
North was no match for the Dogs last time who came out 14-point winners.
Remarkably, North had an advantage in both contested and uncontested possessions (+4 and +80 respectively) but was unable to make it count. The final delivery into forward 50 was, and still is, a major problem for the team.
Marcus Bontempelli starred with 19 disposals and nine tackles while acting captain Easton Wood denied North any resemblance of forward fluency with ten marks.
In: Scott Thompson, Jy Simpkin
Out: Ryan Clarke, Sam Durdin
Good Friday Footy
It's finally here. After decades of campaigning, the Roos are finally getting a game on Good Friday. What this also means is five days of continuous football.
But the talk has been that the Good Friday teams will be rotated. Imagine if ANZAC Day or Queen's Birthday teams were rotated. Why should North lose blockbuster timeslots because we may not draw as big a crowd?
So, North (and Dogs) fans, we need to show the AFL that Good Friday is our time. Show the AFL that we deserve Good Friday and we won't be pushed around for the dollars or rotated out of the slot. There is one easy way to do this. Come to the game.
If you need any further convincing, the Good Friday Appeal will receive $5 from every ticket purchased.
The ruck battle
Short of Will Minson making an unexpected return, the Bulldogs will play with Tom Campbell with Tom Boyd and Travis Cloke providing relief. It's fair to say North will have the ascendency in the ruck but how significant that advantage is will be interesting.
Why, you ask? Well in 2017, a trend has emerged where teams are tactically conceding the ruck contest in favour of an extra rover. The Bulldogs tried it last week against Aaron Sandilands and North should be familiar with it when it used against them to great effect in Round 2 against the Cats.
Lindsay Thomas' 200th
Yes, Thomas has had his fair share of critics recently (including from his own supporters), but he has been a great servant to not only the club but to North's and the AFL's various diversity programs.
Sure, people have accused Thomas of exploiting grey areas, but how can you fault someone for playing to win?
When he arrived at the club, his teammates commented on how quiet he was and how he could barely look them in the eye. Now he has emerged as a player of whom North can truly be proud.
Marquee fixtures like this always have the potential for an upset. North will not want decades of campaigning to end in an embarrassing defeat and being kicked out of the spot, so expect them to come out hard.
It will not be easy, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say North by three points.
Where and when
Friday, 14 April 2017, 4:20 PM @ Etihad Stadium.