Most previews tend to be a series of questions which are never answered or followed up on, and I’ve been as guilty as anyone in that regard.
What we’re going to do on The Shinboner this season is pose five questions in our game day preview, and touch on them 24 hours later in the game review.
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1. Who adapts to the conditions?
On hearing the news there is heavy rainfall expected, I had a horrific flashback to the time North played Gold Coast in 2013, when it was belting down all night and the last three quarters consisted of approximately 154 inside 50’s for the Suns. All the while I was trying to think of something, anything I could tweet from the club account that wasn’t a cry for help.
Selecting Anderson instead of Wood is a good sign North is going in with the appropriate mindset. Now to wait and see whether the game plan will match.
2. Who are the main ball movers off half-back?
It looks like Jamie Macmillan and Luke McDonald will be entrusted with the duties. If it does end up being a wet weather game, the game will probably devolve into a kick and rush style. Macmillan and McDonald can both kick it 50+, get into their hands 25 times to do that as much as possible, get it up field, reset for a stoppage and start again.
3. Who does Ben Jacobs go to?
My hunch is Jacobs goes straight to Jarryd Lyons and doesn’t leave his side from siren to siren. Lyons dominated last year’s match – 39 disposals (23 contested), 10 clearances, seven inside 50’s and six tackles.
We’ve seen how much better North’s midfield looks when Jacobs carries out his tag. If he does it again it gives the likes of Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Trent Dumont room to work inside in what is likely to be a high-stoppage game.
4. Are the third quarter struggles a trend?
Against Melbourne it was seven goals to one, and against Richmond it was four goals in the first eight minutes which effectively killed the game.
Think about how often you see a close game at the half broken apart soon after the restart by the better side – it tends to be a big focus or even a KPI for certain sides. And tonight it may be just a five minute period which brings three goals if the match is as low scoring as expected.
5. What role does Jed Anderson play?
Anderson was promising in the VFL practice match last week at Arden St, particularly in the second half.
The most noticeable thing about his game was the positive reaction from his teammates for everything Anderson was doing. It stood out to the extent where the only conclusion I came to was he must have been doing exactly what was asked of him and hitting a lot of the team’s focus areas.
Assuming that conclusion is true, it’s not a huge surprise he’s been selected in conditions which should suit him if he shows the same intent for a second consecutive week. Whether he plays exclusively in the forward half or with midfield stints remains to be seen; I’m hoping he does spend time on the ball purely for some unpredictability in the rotations.