A tale of two ends
There was never any doubt which would be the scoring end at Blundstone Arena on Sunday, a roaring wind clearly favouring the southern end of the boutique stadium. However, for 17 of 21 first-half goals to sail between the big sticks at that end of the ground put an exclamation mark firmly in place at the main break. After the Roos had leapt to a 36-point quarter-time lead on the back of an eight-goal first term, it was easy to think the Dees had been blown away after losing a vital coin toss. But they roared back in no uncertain terms with a nine-goal second quarter, at once breathing life into the contest and leaving North fans sitting rather uncomfortably in their seats at half-time.
Goal for goal after the break
Given the premium on goals to the northern end of Blundstone Arena in the first half, Jack Watts' goal early in the third term was a precious one. Brent Harvey had booted his third major to open second-half scoring and with the Roos clearly edging the battle for territory, North might have fancied their chances of taking the game away again. Enter Watts with an unlikely mark and his third goal to break the first-half scoring pattern and give the Demons plenty of encouragement. Further goals to Jarrad Waite and Harvey were matched by a Max Gawn major and a snap from Dean Kent as a contest that appeared all but over in the first term really kicked up a gear or two. The Roos eventually found a way to benefit from the breeze, booting the final four goals of the third term to set up an 18-point lead and give themselves critical breathing space entering the final quarter.
While the Demons were on notice following disparaging remarks from all corners of the football world in the wake of their round two loss to Essendon, few players were under as much pressure as power forward Jesse Hogan. Admonished for poor body language and a seeming lack of effort against the Bombers, Hogan's output was clearly on his coach's mind as he started in the centre square at the first bounce. While he threw his weight about, Hogan couldn't impact the early contests and soon found his way forward to be stood by Robbie Tarrant in the Melbourne goal square. In keeping with the flow of the match, Hogan really worked his way into calculations after quarter-time and added a couple of majors as the Demons raced back into the match and took a seven-point half-time lead. He finished with three goals from 19 possessions and can hold his head high despite the heartbreak of a missed set shot in the final term as the Demons chased an unlikely win.
Big men battle it out
Max Gawn might have wondered what he’d done wrong in the first quarter as North’s star ruckman Todd Goldstein helped himself to three goals, eight contested possessions and five clearances in a stand-out performance. But far from being Goldstein’s whipping boy, Gawn had actually produced an impressive first term himself, getting first hands to the ball 18 times and helping the Demons dominate both clearances and contested possession. While he couldn't keep up with Goldstein's five goals, Gawn contributed two majors for the Demons, had a mammoth 63 hit-outs and 17 contested possessions to be a driving force throughout.
Boomer's big bag
As the goals stacked up in a high-scoring contest, it was none other than Brent 'Boomer' Harvey who really stood out for the Kangaroos. The evergreen small forward had started on the bench but was soon going about his work in typically busy and effective style. With goals in each of the opening two terms, Harvey really came to life in the third, inspiring his side to an 18-point lead at the final break with his three goals for the quarter taking his tally to five for the first time since he booted a handful against the Bombers in round 14, 1998. Better was to come midway through the final term as the Roos' talisman capitalised on a long kick inside 50m to race clear and boot his sixth from the square. As well as giving the Kangaroos a third-straight win to start 2016, Harvey's wild celebration seemed to suggest he was fully aware his six straight represented the best performance of his 412-game career.