AFL Round 1 Preview: North Melbourne v West Coast

WHERE: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, March 26, 11.10am AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R16, 2016: West Coast 16.8 (104) def North Melbourne 11.6 (72) at Domain Stadium
2PF, 2015: West Coast 10.20 (80) def North Melbourne 7.13 (55) at Domain Stadium
R10, 2015: North Melbourne 13.7 (85) def West Coast 10.15 (75) at Blundstone Arena
R11, 2014: North Melbourne 12.10 (82) def West Coast 6.8 (44) at Domain Stadium
R8, 2013: West Coast 12.18 (90) def North Melbourne 13.10 (88) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW
It is been a long six months, but the 2017 AFL season is here at last. If there is one word to describe West Coast and North Melbourne’s respective lists, I would have to say… different.

The Eagles have lost Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett, but they have added pure, unadulterated class in Sam Mitchell, youthful, injury-prone promise in Nathan Vardy, and, well, age in Drew Petrie — call it a tie.

North Melbourne looks different for a similar reason: no Brent Harvey. Brent Harvey was at Arden Street for so long, he was mistaken for a leather smoking chair on multiple occasions. North Melbourne without Brent Harvey is like a vegan sausage at a Bunnings sausage sizzle: sure, it is technically a sausage, but it tastes awful.

TALKING POINTS
1. Nathan Hrovat, Marley Williams, Declan Mountford, Mitch Hibberd, Braydon Preuss and Jy Simpkin will make their North Melbourne debuts. For the Eagles, Drew Petrie, Sam Mitchell and Nathan Vardy will all run out in blue and gold for the first time.

2. West Coast holds the (Mason) wood over North Melbourne, with seven wins from their last nine matches.

3. Adele brought more fans to Etihad Stadium in one night than North Melbourne has in three seasons. Regardless, the turf should be well aerated from 140,000 stiletto-clad mothers and daughters singing off key in between sips of warm, overpriced Chardonnay.

4. When was the last time North Melbourne played a game without at least one of Harvey, Petrie or Firrito? Round 19, 1999. Unfortunately, Lindsay Thomas is still running around.

5. While Ben Brown may not have the best face to be the face of North’s forward line, he certainly has the ability.  A strong showing in a VFL practice match for Werribee has Brown set to launch into round one.


MOST AT STAKE FOR… Drew Petrie.

If there is one thing that looks more out of place than Sam Mitchell in a West Coast guernsey, it is Drew Petrie in a West Coast guernsey. From all reports, Petrie’s work rate since heading west has been nothing short of first-class. Little can be said, however, about his ruck-work throughout the JLT Community Series. Only time will tell if Petrie’s selection is warranted, or if Adam Simpson is simply playing mind games with Brad Scott’s team. One thing is for sure: Petrie better learn how to jump or Todd Goldstein’s All-Australian knee might just send him into retirement for good.

TIP: West Coast by 60 points.

SECOND TIP: 10 minutes of post-game complaining/excuses from Brad Scott.

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