HOW MUCH worse is it going to get before it gets better for North Melbourne?
That’s the question Kangaroos fans continue to ponder, after falling to an 11th straight defeat, this time coming at the hands of Greater Western Sydney by 49 points at Marvel Stadium.
The Giants set up the big win with a five-goal to nothing first term, where five individual goalkickers set GWS on the way to the 15.12 (102) to 7.11 (53) victory.
KANGAROOS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
Despite an improved second-half showing, the defeat heaps further pressure on embattled coach David Noble to find answers for North’s poor run of form heading into the bye, as the Kangaroos fell to a ninth consecutive defeat by more than 45 points.
While only two spots separated the sides on the ladder going into the contest, the gap between the two combatants on the field couldn’t be more apparent as the visitors essentially put the game away with a resounding first-half performance.
The Giants out-marked (60-26 marks at half-time), out-possessed (217-140 disposals) and ultimately out-played their hapless opponents - booting the first seven goals of the game and building an unassailable 47-point lead at half-time.
To the Kangaroos’ credit, they showed some signs of life after half-time, levelling the contest at the coalface and not allowing GWS to completely blow them out of the water with an improved second-half showing - kicking five goals apiece after the major break.
Luke Davies-Uniacke (33 disposals, six tackles) and Jy Simpkin (32 disposals) led the way for North but at key moments the home side were their own worst enemy, turning the ball over time and time again and being made to pay by a clinical Giants outfit.
GWS is now 2-1 under interim coach Mark McVeigh and despite both those wins coming against the two bottom sides in the competition, the Giants have made strides in the past three weeks, playing with more conviction and dare in attacking phases.
In a new role in defence, Harry Himmelberg was immense, registering a career-best 37 disposals, along with 16 marks while Stephen Coniglio continued his recent run of hot form - tallying 34 disposals and booting three goals.
Finals may be basically out of the equation heading into the last 10 games of the season as they sit 13th on the ladder and three games behind eighth-placed Richmond, but the Giants will go in with a tonne of confidence heading into a match-up with arch-rivals Western Bulldogs next Saturday night.
However, the win did come at a cost for the Giants, after Harry Perryman was sent to hospital due to concerns surrounding his ribs and lungs following a heavy collision in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, North will nervously await the Match Review Officer's review after Jason Horne-Francis caught Josh Kelly with a swinging arm to the chin in the third term.
HIMMELBERG IMPRESSES IN NEW ROLE
For the best part of his career, Harry Himmelberg has made his name as a goalkicker.
However, on this occasion it was his work further up the ground which caught the eye as he made a shift to the back six which paid off enormously. While his defensive work shone through playing loose in essentially the ‘Nick Haynes role’, it was his ability to accumulate the ball which stood out the most.
Before Sunday, Himmelberg’s career-high for disposals in a single game was 23 in the Elimination Final against Sydney back in 2018, but the 26-year-old smashed that total in less than three quarters - tallying 37 disposals to go with 16 marks and 10 rebound-50s.
200 FOR WARD
There hasn’t been many, if any at all, greater servants at the Giants than Callan Ward, who became the first player to notch up 200 games for the club.
Since arriving as one of the club’s inaugural signings back in 2012, Ward has seen it all at Greater Western Sydney, helping usher the club from the difficult early days of being an expansion side to emerging as a perennial finals outfit for the best part of the last six years.
The former Giants co-captain impressed, racking up 30 disposals, going at an ultra-impressive 90 per cent disposal efficiency.
After a couple weeks in the VFL where he was forced to earn his stripes for the second time this season, Jaidyn Stephenson was recalled to North Melbourne’s lineup.
Stephenson was dropped back in round nine, but after two impressive showings, the former Magpie was given yet another chance to stamp his claim as one of North Melbourne’s most impactful players by David Noble.
However, it was a far from an ideal afternoon for Stephenson who struggled to make any sort of impact on the contest, taking until the second quarter to register a single disposal and finished with only five for the game.
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.3 2.5 4.8 7.11 (53)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3 10.4 12.9 15.12 (102)
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Goldstein 2, Taylor, Davies-Uniacke, Curtis
Greater Western Sydney: Riccardi 3, Coniglio 3, Peatling 3, Bruhn 2, Greene 2, de Boer, Himmelberg
North Melbourne: Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin, Anderson, Hall, Taylor
Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg, Coniglio, Green, Bruhn, Cumming, Ward, Whitfield, Kelly
North Melbourne: nil
Greater Western Sydney: Perryman (ribs)
North Melbourne: Charlie Lazzaro
Greater Western Sydney: Jake Stein (replaced Harry Perryman in the second quarter)