Paul Roos says the fixture and forward inefficiency have ruined North Melbourne’s season so far
Lindsay Thomas and the North Melbourne forwards need to be more efficient if they’re going to challenge the top sides, Paul Roos says. Herald Sun
DOES North Melbourne’s 1-4 start highlight one of the great discrepancies within the AFL competition?
Take nothing away from Port, as it has had a fantastic start to the season, but what would the Kangaroos win-loss ratio be had they played the same five teams?
Brad Scott’s men have had narrow losses to the Pies, Hawks and Geelong, a shocking third quarter against the Swans and a 10-goal win against the Lions.
They have played some very good football and statistically are clearly better than a 1-4 team.
Early in the season there are some very interesting statistical trends and the Kangas feature highly in most.
Of the current top eight teams, seven are ranked in the top eight for short kicks and effective kicks. The Roos sit fourth and second in these categories. Only the Swans are outside the top eight in these key stats.
Six of the top eight teams are also top eight in percentage of effective disposal, percentage of effective kicks, marks, uncontested possession and goals scored.
Once again the Kangaroos are in the top eight of every one of these categories – they’re first in terms of effective disposals.
As a football observer, stats can often be misleading, however I strongly feel that the Kangaroos are playing well.
The problem is they are a potential 7th-8th placed team that has played against teams currently better than they are.
The Hawks and Swans played in the Grand Final last year, Collingwood was a pre-season premiership favourite and Geelong is undefeated.
The question for the Kangaroos is how do they jump into the next bracket of teams so they can regularly defeat the four teams that have defeated them so far?
They are working extremely hard for each other and their effort cannot be faulted. One glaring weakness appears to be their inefficiency inside their forward 50.
They are currently ranked 16th for marks inside forward 50. The Kangas are getting enough of the ball but they are not giving their forwards enough chance to mark it.
They tend to bomb the ball on top of the heads of their key forwards. Players need to start lowering their eyes and hit up leading targets inside forward 50. At the very least put the ball to the advantage of their key forwards and give them a chance to run and jump at it.
They did this extremely well in the first half against Geelong and went in at halftime with a convincing lead.
I also believe they need to find a midfield tagger. Scott seems content to go head-to-head in the midfield battles.
This will work against the lesser teams as the Kangas’ midfield has improved significantly over the past two or three years.
But against the top teams they need to lock away a dangerous midfielder and take away one of the opposition’s strengths.
This was no more evident than in the Collingwood game when eventually Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan amassed enough possession to win the game for the Pies. Selwood was also given too much latitude in the Cats game and again the Roos were overrun.
The intangible that allows teams to go from top eight to top four is belief.
This can often be the hardest piece of the puzzle to find. The Kangas must fix their problems, but also be encouraged to continue doing the things that they are doing well.
Sometimes that belief can appear in 10 minutes at the end of the game and can be delivered by the bounce of the ball, a timely free kick, or a lucky goal.
But it will not be delivered without encouragement, enthusiasm and a trust and bond between coaches and players.
In many ways North is on the right track and I feel their season will be kick-started against the Power in Tasmania.