GWS vs Kangaroos

GWS Giants vs North Melbourne

WHERE AND WHEN: Skoda Stadium, Saturday, 4:40pm

LAST TIME: Round 2, 2012: NM 28.15 – 183 def GWS 8.6 – 54

The Greater Western Sydney Giants are firmly anchored at the bottom of the ladder and near impossibilities to not ‘win’ the wooden spoon in their debut season. But they still have a chance to have some sort of an influence on September when they take on the Kangaroos at Skoda Stadium on Saturday.

With the top 8 set in stone, the Kangaroos sit at 8th spot and will be hoping of a repeat of their 129 point schelacking of GWS in Round 2 of this season. With Fremantle (7th, equal wins) also facing a lowly fixture and Geelong (6th, one win ahead) facing a tough game against the Sydney Swans, a whole lot rides on the outcome of this game for the Roos and their September aspirations.

If results go their way, they could finish 6th and claim a home final. If not they could face the daunting task (from most to least likely) of the West Coast Eagles in Perth, Collingwood in Melbourne or Adelaide at AAMI. While the Kangaroos are almost unbackable favourites to take down GWS by a fair margin, just how much will end up being important, and you can bet the Giants will do their best not to make it an easy task.

The Kangaroos should be fired up after a heavy loss to the fellow September crowd of the Fremantle Dockers, while GWS seem to have little left in the tank after a long season for a group of talented youngsters and very seasoned veterans. Still, with Kevin Sheedy and Mark Williams at the helm, you can never underestimate the lengths they may go to in order to undermine North Melbourne’s finals campaign as they look towards 2013.

All eyes will be on the results and margins of Friday and Saturday’s games to determine the final order of the 8 and what we’ll see in the first week of the finals. Ignore the ladder position – North have a lot to play for in this one.

Key Players:

Toby Greene – What a stellar season the 181cm, 18 year old midfielder has had to begin his AFL career. Averaging very close to 28 disposals and 5 clearances a game, he’d be a shoe-in for the Rising Star if it wasn’t for his suspension earlier in the year. The more he and fellow partner in crime Callan Ward rack up the ball, the less North Melbourne can.

Phil Davis – The promising defender ‘poached’ from Adelaide will need to be on his A-game against whichever North Melbourne forward he’s placed on. If it’s Drew Petrie, he’ll be hoping to keep his couple of quiet weeks going to place the onus on Lachie Hansen and Robbie Tarrant. If he plays on one of the other two, the pressure goes to Petrie. Either way he needs to have a stellar game if they are to keep the Roos from blowing the margin out.

Drew Petrie – On the flipside, Petrie himself will want a big bag to keep his name in All-Australian contention. He’s still a chance for the Coleman medal if he boots 6+, which is entirely possible as he has flourished against the lower ranked sides in 2012. Although ‘dish’ will most likely come out and say it doesn’t matter personally, him kicking a nice haul would help propel North forward. He only kicked 2 against GWS earlier in the year and now is the perfect time to remedy his 3 goal return in the last 3 rounds.

Todd Goldstein – Was quiet last weekend against a rampant Aaron Sandilands and GWS’s first choice ruckman Jonathan Giles is no slouch. Will want to get back into gear before finals and tapping the ball to the likes of Ryan Bastinac, Andrew Swallow, Daniel Wells and Brent Harvey, who all dominated against GWS last time, seems the perfect (and only) time to do it.

Prediction: North Melbourne by 77