Main content

North Melbourne shows it's the real deal

Highlights: North Melbourne v Richmond The Kangaroos and Tigers clash in round eight

1. Is North Melbourne the real deal?

Last week North travelled to Sydney and knocked off the Swans on their home turf. On Sunday, they challenged Richmond, fighting back from a 26-point deficit late in the second quarter to give the reigning premiers a real scare before going down by 10 points. It's a fortnight that should establish the Roos as a genuine top-eight contender this season, which is something few would have predicted at the start of the season when their prospects appeared a little gloomier. Brad Scott's side has also beaten Hawthorn, which is entrenched in the top-eight after eight rounds, so has some confidence-boosting performances against strong teams in its favour. 

TIGERS HANG ON: Full match coverage and stats

2. North's 'glove' gets another victim

Ben Jacobs has taken some big scalps so far this season as the competition's best tagger, and he added another to his list on Sunday after blanketing Richmond superstar Dustin Martin. Martin would have been bracing for Jacobs and he did not disappoint, with the North Melbourne midfielder shadowing last year's Brownlow and Norm Smith medallist everywhere he went. Martin had two disposals in the first term, had seven by half-time, and by the last change had only 11 disposals. He finished with 16 disposals, and so minimal was Martin's influence that he spent a fair chunk of the second half in attack, seeing Jacobs then take on a rampaging Trent Cotchin. 

WATCH: Tigers can't buy a goal

3. Happy Caddy

Josh Caddy might have felt a little unsure if he would break straight back into Richmond's side after missing its round five win over Melbourne with a hamstring twinge. But since coming back, the former Cat and Sun has shown exactly why he's a key member of Richmond's forward half. Caddy fits in nicely as an in-between sized option who is good overhead and at ground level. He kicked four goals against the Roos in the Tigers' win, taking his season tally to 16 goals from six games. Caddy kicked 21 goals in both of his past two seasons – the best of his career – but is well on track to better that in 2018.

4. Rance gets the honours over Brown, just

It was good to see Alex Rance, the competition's best key defender, and Ben Brown, the leader of the Coleman Medal, spend large portions of Sunday's clash matched up. It can be a rarity in the modern game for a star defender to go head-to-head with the opposition's leading forward target, as coaches hope to use the backman's rebounding, intercept and offensive skills. But given Brown's form – he started leading the competition for goals (24 after seven rounds) – Rance was handed the task. Brown took a strong pack mark and kicked truly in the first quarter, and finished with two goals, but he uncharacteristically missed two costly shots late in the game.

WATCH: Wood cleans up

5. Cunnington ignites the Roos

There are few better players at the coalface than Ben Cunnington. The gun North midfielder probably doesn't receive the praise or acclaim that he deserves but is the most consistent of Kangaroos and starts things every week for his side in the midfield. Against arguably the best midfield in the competition, Cunnington was brilliant, gathering a career-high 38 disposals (32 of which were contested, an all-time record) as well as 14 clearances. There isn't anything flashy about the 26-year-old but he has some of the quickest and cleanest hands in the game, meaning he is able to pick the ball up, shoot it off and hit a target with a minimum of fuss, over and over again.