Many people (including me) predicted that North Melbourne would fall from two consecutive preliminary finals to either sneaking into the top 8 or missing out completely. The reasons being their stars are too old meaning being unable to perform at a high standard for long periods of the season and the team not having enough star power that can win matches when the game is on the line. Despite these reasons, North have exceeded expectations and are currently the only team in the AFL to be undefeated after round 4.
The main reason has been due to their key forwards being in from and kicking plenty of goals. Jarrad Waite has started this season well with 16 goals and has proved a handful for defenders so far. Drew Petrie has provided plenty of experience with his strong marking and kicking abilities while Ben Brown has continued his form of last season with a solid start to this season. Not only that, they have been able to kick accurately in front of goal. Waite has kicked 16.3, Harvey 12.4 and Brown 8.2 so this shows their forwards are taking their chances when they are kicking for goal.
Their midfield has been tough at the ball and winning the hard ball and distributing them out to their outside players like Brent Harvey, Daniel Wells and Shaun Atley. North are number 2 in the AFL at clearances (162), 4th in contested possession (601) and 2nd least amount of clangers (182). These statistics illustrates North’s midfield are winning the ball in the middle and around the ground while not giving up the ball to the opposition when they have the ball.
They have shown that you do not need that many household names to be successful but be a well drilled team that plays for each other. This is essential in the AFL or else the team will be exposed by players who will not work hard for the sake of the team.
They face Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium this Saturday afternoon which has not been a great hunting ground for North Melbourne, having lost their last 3 matches there. However, if they can break that hoodoo and win that match and go 5-0 then no doubt they will be looking to finish the season in the top 4.
It is early in the season and so much can change between now and the end of the home and away season but so far North Melbourne’s early form has made them early favorites to finish in the top 4 and have a chance in fighting for a grand final in which they have missed out over the past two seasons.
— The Sportsman