For a while I’ve been trying to figure out how to create as many impartial, simple-to-understand tools when attempting to analyse an AFL list. Things that you can look at and instantly glean unbiased knowledge from.
Three weeks ago the Western Bulldogs were in trouble. Big trouble. A midfield, supposed to be their edge over the competition, was falling apart and much of their hard work earlier in the season had been squandered.
In pre-season, it was termed as a year of discovery. Now we’re at the end of it – from an on-field perspective at least – what have North Melbourne come away with?
Of all the times for a strength to turn in to a weakness, a fortnight out from finals is no-one’s choice and out of nowhere that's where the Western Bulldogs find themselves.
So, North Melbourne have a wooden spoon for the first time since 1972. And everyone will react differently, but mine is a world apart from 2017 and 2020 where finishing bottom was a live possibility at the start of the last round.
When Josh Kelly’s eight-year extension at GWS was announced on Tuesday evening, my instinctive reaction was ‘happy with that’. That was immediately followed by something along the lines of, ‘am I insane being happy with Josh Kelly not at North Melbourne?'
A fortnight ago the match post was comparing this year’s games against the Bulldogs, and today’s will be much the same with Essendon with a near-exclusive focus on the first half.
For North Melbourne to go to Perth with a clear plan, withstand a barrage, execute down to a tee and earn the four points is an enormous tick in a year which had a lot of small tickets up until this point.
Today’s Notebook covers Patrick Dangerfield, Melbourne’s continuing forward dilemmas and what to make of West Coast away from home.
Sunday evening marked the first time North had played an opponent twice at the same venue under David Noble, making it another important step in the process of learning about the team.