North have the edge
Saturday, 12th April, 2014
Round 2 of football today will see last start winners North and Central going head to head with the chance for the winner to go top of the ladder.
It is a position the Bulldogs are accustomed to but for the Magpies the view from the top is something they haven’t experienced for quiet some time.
The Magpies showed the public last week that, while rebuilding, they are capable of playing an exciting style of footy and applying enormous pressure on the opponent.
The secret for the Magpies is to repeat the dose week in week out and today is another test for their resolve and character.
The Bulldogs opened the season in impressive fashion with a number of new faces in their side. The experienced players stood up but the younger players also stood tall and showed that they will be valuable players for the blue and white.
The Bulldogs have been forced to make five changes with Burton, Dempster, Ellis, Hack and Mannion all dropping out. They regain Borlace, Clare and Zac Borlace and will start first gamers Pettitt and Morgan.
The Magpies have also made three changes with Masclet, Rhodes and Farcich dropping and White and first gamers Bates and Mitchell debuting for the Pies.
On form, albeit one week, this should be a interesting contest. Both sides showed signs of quality footy last week and they will be looking to build on that.
This contest could well revolve around the midfield clash with North starting with Kelly, Morgan and Beaven in the square. They will face off against Anderson, Balchin and Cox. I would expect centre clearances to play a important role in the fortunes of both sides.
North’s better use of the footy gives them a advantage but it will come down to the Magpies’ pressure; can they apply the same as they did last week and cause mistakes and turnovers and catch the Bulldogs out going the other way?
Each side’s forward halves will be put under the microscope. The Magpies will again look to Bray as its key go-to man but he must now put together four quarters, not just one.
Consistency in his work ethic will benefit the Magpies, while players like Quinn, Nash and Turner also need to hit the scoreboard on a regular basis.
I also expect Bates and Jenkin to get involved on the scoreboard as they both like to run and carry.
The Bulldogs go into the game with two key talls up forward in Fenton and Grundy. Fenton is a proven goalkicker and Grundy has to get amongst the goals, and with Johnson up forward his ability and goal sense could prove invaluable.
The Magpies will be well aware of Kelly and Beaven’s ability to drift forward and kick goals.
The defensive halves look to match up pretty well and they will be put under plenty of pressure through the course of the game. The one that absorbs the pressure the best will put their side in a pretty strong position at the final siren.
As I said, the Magpies are rebuilding but they showed they are capable of playing good football along the way and that puts them right in this contest.
But to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since round 17 in 2012, they cannot rest on their efforts from last week.
The Bulldogs still have enough experience in this side to win the game and that will be enough for them to collect the four points. But it should be a close and exciting contest with plenty of twists and turns.
North by 13 points
Jubilee Oval: 2.30pm