Despite a dramatic lead-up to bouncedown, and an eventual 51 point loss to the Dockers, David Noble continues to find positives in North Melbourne’s development as a side.
As North Melbourne landed in Perth, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a three-day lockdown, throwing a spanner in the works for the Len Hall Tribute Match at Optus Stadium. This caused uncertainty to ripple through its camp.
Post-match, North Melbourne coach David Noble extended his sympathy to fans who could not attend due to the lockdown and highlighted the significance of the match.
“I want to acknowledge the importance of the match for the ANZACS and the unfortunate circumstances that the Freo supporters and most importantly, our Kangaroo supporters in WA who couldn’t get to the Len Hall game today.” He said
“We’re feeling for everyone that’s not able to be here, but particularly our Kangaroo fans”
On the game itself, North Melbourne looked composed and competitive in bursts throughout the game, especially in their defensive efforts and competitive first-quarter fight back.
The Kangaroos led in a majority of defensive statistics, winning the tackle count 58-62 and one percenters 38-46.
While their defensive pressure was strong throughout the game, Noble identified areas for improvement for his men.
“I thought we defended quite well and didn’t take our opportunities when we went forward. I think some bigger bodies around the stoppages at times caused us some grief and we couldn’t quite get the balance right.” Noble said.
“Overall, we showed some good signs in our defence, and then at certain times, we weren’t able to get our forwards to reengage in our inside 50 quickly enough”
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North Melbourne had possession of the ball longer than Fremantle, winning the disposal count for the first time this year. Marking was also a strength of North Melbourne’s, beating Fremantle in the count 128-100.
A focus on slowing the game down to improve ball usage and accuracy helped with the team’s growth and strategy.
“One of the things we’re trying to get our guys to do at times is understanding where the game is and the fact that they’re able to slow the ball down a little bit, takes a little bit more heat out of the game time,” Noble said.
“We seem to be really well organised when we move the ball forward, but we’re a little bit slower in play.
“I think we’ve ended up with nine inside 50 marks. And I think what that does also is it allows you to get your defence in shape.”
“Once we’ve been able to do some more work on our defence, that lends itself to being a little bit more patient with the ball, so therefore the possessions tend to increase a little bit.”
Going forward, Noble is hoping that the Roos start ticking more boxes, seeing numerous met tonight, some still needing work.
“We’re trying to win as many quarters as we can. That’s been one of the area’s we’ve tried to focus on.”
“I think the other area too is the roles we’ve been giving some of our younger guys.
“Tarryn Thomas – I liked some of his efforts in there, some of his speed in that sense. I think Jaidyn [Stephenson]’s been hitting the scoreboard again, I thought Jack Mahony probably had his best game for us this year in that sense, and I think Tom Powell showed some real class around the ball and stoppages when he’s able to get his hands on the ball from that side of things.”
Thomas had 19 possessions, five tackles and gained 339 metres while Stephenson booted two goals.
On the wing, Jack Mahony exceeded his season average in numerous areas, like 21 disposals at 71% efficiency, seven contested possessions, and four intercepts.
Holding his own against Freo’s eclectic, yet competitive midfield, Tom Powell had 25 touches, eight marks, and four inside 50s.
Will Phillips and Jy Simpkin accompanied Powell as well as veterans like Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell competed well against Freo’s firing midfield.
Acknowledging the challenge’s difficulty, he praised them for their efforts against Fyfe and Mundy in particular.
“It’s quite difficult at times, but I thought our guys held their ground reasonably well, but they’re solid, hard AFL players and it’s difficult for us to get on top of them at times”
Moving on, Noble wants tick off more goals and improve as a side to be come a competitive force.
“We’ve just got to keep chipping away. We’ve got to have energy that remains within our group from that side of things”
“We’ve got work in front of us to continue to learn how we need to play this game in order to be competitive and move up the ladder. That’s the bottom line”