Young Roos refuse to take backward step against Suns

Roger Vaughan |

The Kangaroos proved they were up for the fight during their four-point win over the Suns.
The Kangaroos proved they were up for the fight during their four-point win over the Suns.

The “Unsociable Hawks” who won four AFL premierships under Alastair Clarkson might be having a rebirth at North Melbourne.

Just as Hawthorn were physically imposing and relentless in their pressure when Clarkson coached them to greatness, the young Kangaroos did not take a backward step in Saturday’s upset win over Gold Coast.

A feature of the four-point win at Marvel Stadium was the eagerness of the North players to take it up to the Suns.

Any physical confrontation was cause for a push-and-shove – and it worked.

Gold Coast lacked fluency and North stymied their run out of defence.

Asked if it was deliberate, or just the result of a young side finding its feet, Clarkson replied “a combination of both”.

Coach Alastair Clarkson.
Coach Alastair Clarkson believes North Melbourne have turned the corner. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

“If you’re not applying pressure from the back end (on) those over-the-top handballs, then they’ll just slice through you,” he said.

“We weren’t perfect in that space, but that’s what had us in a lot of the contests and made Gold Coast rush a fair bit.”

So while Gold Coast had 62 inside-50s – normally enough to win – forwards such as Ben King were starved for supply and the Suns’ connection in attack was terrible.

The young Kangaroos midfield also handsomely won the clearances 45-29.

All in all it was a great day as North won their first game in Melbourne since round one last season.

“I’m just pleased they’re able to be here (for) some of these little milestones along the way,” Clarkson said of the 17,781 fans who attended.

“They can say they were there the day when it looked like the Kangaroos are starting to turn the corner … that’s five games in a row when we’ve been right in the contest.”

North had their first win of the season in round 15 against West Coast, and the combined margin of their three losses since then has been 21 points.

While they will start rank outsiders next week against top side Sydney away, Clarkson said they will go into the game “with just a little more spring in our step”.

North star Luke Davies-Uniacke had a lot of spring in his step when he went so close to a goal-of-the-year contender in the final term.

“His last quarter was superb and it’s just a real shame he didn’t snag that goal – it would have gone down in the archives as one of the greatest goals of all time,” Clarkson said.