The Opposition: Round 2 v St Kilda

Now we’re off and running in the flow of the season, we’ll gain more and more data and evidence to work with as every week passes.

While last week we only had pre-season outings to use, for today’s look at St Kilda we can use its season opener against Brisbane at Etihad Stadium.

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If you haven’t read why it’s so important to get to the game on Friday, you can do so here.

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Three tall forwards

There were no surprises in St Kilda’s forward setup in Round 1. Paddy McCartin, Josh Bruce and Tim Membrey were the three marking forwards.

Membrey is 188 centimetres but plays much taller. For North fans who haven’t watched much of him, think along the style of Aaron Edwards (184 centimetres) and Ben Warren (186 centimetres).

If North has spent a whole summer grooming Ed Vickers-Willis to be a best 22 player, this is exactly the matchup he must take. It keeps the backline from becoming too top-heavy if you bring in another player with key position size, gives more options to play on the smaller forwards and keeps the versatility in the defensive unit.

St Kilda using the turnover/Brisbane slowing the tempo

The Saints looked at their most dangerous last week when they turned Brisbane over. Most of the time the ball movement was quick, it was decisive, and it reaped the rewards.

But from the halfway point of the second quarter to late in the third quarter, Brisbane completely dominated general play. And it provided a blueprint of sorts for North.

Brisbane was more considered with its ball movement and it put them in a better position to defend when the ball was turned over. St Kilda couldn’t slingshot down the other end for a score, and the Lions’ pressure meant the Saints were often forced to go forward in a straight line rather than their preferred method…

Method of ball movement

We’re going to touch on this more tomorrow in the game day preview, but here’s an appetiser.

After some teams win the ball, (link)they go straight forward.(/link) Some teams like to go back, some teams like to handball first, kick first … you get the picture.

When the Saints win a contest, they then like to go sideways and open up space before going forward. We’ll dive into it in-depth tomorrow, but it was a game style which hurt North often in Round 12* last season.

*By the time it got to Round 22, North was in full experimentation mode so we’re placing less stock in that match

Who the Saints are missing

They essentially have a clean bill of health; only Nathan Freeman (please get well soon), Darren Minchington and Ben Paton on the injury list. It means North comes up against a full-strength outfit on Friday.

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Remember to check back tomorrow morning for our game day preview of the Good Friday clash and on Saturday morning for the review. Thankfully we’re not playing in a swimming pool this week and we’ll have more to learn from the match.

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