Curtis Taylor and Harry Sheezel celebrate a goal in North Melbourne's clash with Collingwood in round 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne has gone from competition easybeat to dangerous late-season opponent in the space of two matches, and its improvement has come all over the field.

Despite losing by a point to Collingwood on Sunday after blowing a huge lead, the Kangaroos' performance was full of merit and came just eight days after their breakthrough win in 2024 against West Coast.

So, what's changed since the mid-season bye?

In its first 11 matches of the season, North lost six of them by more than 50 points and never got within four goals of an opponent by full-time.

Co-captain Jy Simpkin returned to play a huge role in the win over the Eagles, but was out injured against the Magpies, with largely the same group of players pre-bye lifting their output in the past fortnight.

Champion Data statistics show North's Pressure Rating has gone through the roof. It's been at a whopping 199 against the Eagles and Magpies. For context, anything above 180 is considered good.


The Roos are winning the ball more, with positive differentials in clearances (plus-10), contested possessions (plus-nine) and ultimately disposals (plus-57.5).

Young gun George Wardlaw has been one of many central contributors to this, averaging 25.5 disposals, including 12.5 contested, and eight clearances in the two matches.

The Roos have been dramatically better at the turnover game – along with Pressure Rating, the stat that is the greatest indicator of success.

Through 11 matches they were minus-35 in points from turnover differential, but a promising plus-11 since the bye.

With All-Australian Nick Larkey bagging nine goals in the period, they have been more efficient when going inside 50, kicking a goal from almost a third of their entries.


Things have been just as impressive without the ball.

Despite winning it significantly more than the opposition, North has also affected 74.5 tackles a game, compared to 55.3 previously.

Tristan Xerri (eight) and Harry Sheezel (six) have been notable contributors.

It's just two matches, and it's still on the bottom of the ladder, but North's upcoming opponents – Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast – are all on notice about the post-bye improvement of Alastair Clarkson's team that suddenly looks far from a guaranteed four premiership points.