2012 Olympics Panda Podium (Taken with Instagram)
White rabbit gallery, Sydney.
The Kangaroos have a growing sense of self belief after upsetting the AFL’s defending premiers Geelong by 17 points in their round-three clash on Sunday.
In Brad Scott’s first two years as coach, North Melbourne finished ninth both times, savaged by top-four sides.
However the young Kangaroos came of age at Etihad Stadium, leading at every change and holding a 42-point advantage early in the final term against the Cats who’ve won three flags in the past five years.
Weary after their bruising Easter Monday encounter with Hawthorn, the Cats finished strongly with seven goals to North’s four in the final term but were outgunned 20.11 (131) to 18.16 (114).
It was North’s first win over Geelong since 2007, snapping a seven-game losing streak against the Cats.
Scott admitted his side had caught the Cats at a good time, following North’s easier lead-up game with a big win over Greater Western Sydney last weekend.
While Geelong coach Chris Scott refused to consider the fixturing issue, describing it as a “feeble excuse”, the twin brothers could agree North’s defensive pressure through midfield and dominance of the contested possessions (134-123) were crucial factors.
Brent Harvey, Andrew Swallow and Daniel Wells had 99 possessions between them while Jack Ziebell had 27 and kicked four goals while Ryan Bastinac also booted four, as did Aaron Edwards.
Sam Wright performed a shut-down role on Cats star Steve Johnson, who failed to score a goal, while for the Cats their key defender Harry Taylor kept North’s Drew Petrie goal-less.
James Podsiadly (five goals) was dominant up forward for the Cats and Tom Hawkins finished with four goals including three in the final term after being well held by Luke Delaney.
Asked if it was his best win as coach, Brad Scott said: “It’s as good as any.
“If Wells, Swallow, Harvey, Petrie aren’t dominating the game, we’re still a competitive side,” he said.
Ziebell, 21, was sensational in his first game for the year after suspension.
“The midfield group, all the young guys coming through there … it gives them a lot of self confidence as well so that they can mix it against the top-line teams,” Ziebell said.
“Tonight it has really given us a bit of self belief. The main thing is … making sure that it’s just not a one-off thing.”
Ziebell said next Sunday’s battle with Sydney Swans at the SCG would be a huge challenge for North (2-1 record this season).
The Cats (1-2) host Richmond the same day.
Chris Scott was unsure if he needed to do make any tactical changes after North racked up 172 handball receives to Geelong’s 112.
“If there are issues we (will) remedy them quickly because the season can get away from you,” Chris Scott said.
“If they’re intent-related issues, we’ll do our best to fix them as well.”
Defender Andrew Mackie suffered a cut lip and was dazed from a clash in the second term and had to be subbed out at half-time, limiting Geelong’s options.