Game day at Etihad Stadium, where North is attempting to get ahead of the win-loss ledger for the first time this season with its third win of 2018.
Hawthorn’s been a tough opponent in recent years – for everyone really – but even more so for North. It’s been only one win against the Hawks from the last nine encounters.
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What will Hawthorn’s moves be?
Considering today will be the Hawks’ first match without Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo, how they set up in the forward half will likely dictate the opening stages as the teams feel each other out.
North will likely be attempting to swing one of Majak Daw, Robbie Tarrant or Scott Thompson as the loose defender/goalkeeper type, while also figuring out the matchups on the Hawthorn forwards.
Whichever team gets that set up the quickest will be the one off to the fast start.
How will North’s midfield setup?
The theme across North’s two losses this season has been an inability to get to enough contests to either halve the ball at ground level or win stoppages and clearances outright.
Hawthorn was +18 from clearances against Melbourne – the same Melbourne side which was able to score at will from stoppages against North.
You would imagine Ben Jacobs will start on Tom Mitchell, even taking into account Alastair Clarkson’s press conference mind games, essentially inviting the tag to come. From there the remainder of the midfield must be disciplined, because the Hawks will have Plan B, C and D all ready to go the minute they feel A isn’t working.
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Will North’s accuracy in front of goal continue?
We’ve seen inaccuracy cost sides frequently this season, and we’re only halfway through Round 5. However, from three quarter time against St Kilda on Good Friday, North has kicked 38 goals 17, an incredibly accurate conversion rate.
It’s the sort of accuracy which keeps you in games while you’re battling against the flow, and what allows you to change momentum if you make the most of your opportunities.
What role will Cam Zurhaar play?
Given Zurhaar has come into the side for Luke Davies-Uniacke, if it’s a like for like swap we’ll be seeing him spend almost all his time in the midfield.
It would be a change from what we saw in Zurhaar’s handful of games last year, where he was almost exclusively played as a pressure small forward. If the move comes off, it’ll add another string to the potential midfield rotations which can only benefit North in the long run.
What’s your crowd prediction?
My guess is 33,298 witnessing a high scoring encounter. Come back to The Shinboner on Monday morning for the post-match review and everything newsworthy from Etihad Stadium.