IF you had have told me that the Roos would own a winning record after seven rounds of footy I would have been stunned. They haven’t faced a ton of world beaters, but they have definitely earnt their place inside the top-8. We have only played about a third of the season, so there is still plenty of time to determine if North is legit or if they are destined to free fall. With every week that passes, they’re starting to look more and more convincing though.
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A few key stats and numbers can shed some light on why the Kangaroos are 4-3 right now. They are still getting their hands on the footy about the same amount as last season, averaging about a dozen more disposals a game. Their contested possessions are up from a season ago, but their uncontested touches are slightly down. The most glaring stat that is a stark difference from a season ago comes from a defensive perspective.
IN 2017 they allowed the third most points, at an average of 102.9 a game. Fast forward to 2018 and North is giving up an average score of just 69.8, good for the second-fewest points against in the league. They have held teams like Hawthorn and Sydney in check, but to analyse the Roos first seven games, you need to dissect all of their opponents a bit deeper.
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TWO of their wins have come against cellar dwellers in Carlton and St Kilda and they have an L next to their name against the Gold Coast. The loss to the Suns is a bit of an anomaly as the weather was chaotic, making it tough to read too much into the result. Still, they did what good teams do against bad teams, taking down the Blues and Saints by a combined 138 points.
THEIR biggest scalp came on the weekend when they took down Sydney at the SCG by two points in a nailbiter. In one of the early games of the year the North Melbourne of old would have probably folded under the pressure, but the 2018 edition stepped up to claim a famous win. They will need that form to overcome the reigning premiers Richmond, who they face this weekend. In a true litmus test, the Kangaroos will have to be at their best on Sunday afternoon if they want to dethrone the top of the ladder.
IT’S a real possibility that this North Melbourne is here to stay. Ben Brown looks like a Coleman medal threat, pacing the league with 24 goals so far, while Shaun Higgins and Jack Ziebell are leading from the front. No one in the side has really exploded with a breakout season, rather the entire team has lifted their output. That’s usually a good sign for their fortunes for the rest of the season.
THE next fortnight will help us determine which team the Roos will be this season. If they can show grit and fight and even take a win against the Tigers or the Giants then they can prove their start is no fluke. I have my trepidations about North, who I picked to claim the wooden spoon this year and it would still stun me if they are in this position a few weeks from now. Still, the Shinboners are doing what they need to do, pleasantly surprising supporters through the early part of the season. Watch this space.
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