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Talking points: Port Adelaide v North Melbourne

Kym Morgan // AFL Media  July 15, 2017 6:43 PM

AFL 2017 Round 17 - Port Adelaide v North Melbourne

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Chad Wingard of the Power celebrates a goal during the 2017 AFL round 17 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Adelaide Oval on July 15, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media)


1. Chad Wingard might become one of the games absolute elite midfielders
Chad Wingard’s All Australian small-forward performance as a teenager in 2013 quickly caused many to forget that he started his career as a midfielder. Coach Ken Hinkley moved Wingard forward with impact when he got to Alberton. Wingard followed up 2013 with another All Australian season in 2015, but it’s becoming apparent his best years could be ahead as a star midfielder. The Power star had a career-best 39 possessions against Richmond a fortnight ago, and produced a memorable first-quarter effort against North with eight disposals and three goals. He finished with 30 disposals and took a screamer in the final quarter for good measure.

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2. Is Brad Scott the man to take North Melbourne forward?
There are few coaches who would be happier Nathan Buckley is around than Brad Scott. North is undoubtedly rebuilding and stated so when it chose not to offer new contracts to four of its stalwarts at the end of 2016. Its injury list is one of the longest in the AFL at present and it fielded six players with less than 10 games experience. The excuses are there but the question remains – is Scott the man to lead the rebuild? His record is reasonable with a couple of preliminary finals, but his knockers will argue North has never truly played with absolutely system and purpose under his watch. The Roos have only one less victory than Carlton this season but, unlike the Blues, it is not obvious what North stands for at present.

3. Ryder makes another statement, then causes a scare
Todd Goldstein was the competition’s most dominant ruckman just two seasons ago, but in a sign of just how good Paddy Ryder has become, Brad Scott virtually conceded the ruck for a period on Saturday. Scott sent Goldstein forward and rucked with Majak Daw for a period in the third term, waiting till Ryder went forward to move his number-one big man back into the middle. Ryder made an immediate impact up forward but sent a scare through the Power when he landed heavily on his ankle close to three-quarter time. The Power medical staff did not appear too worried and Ryder returned to the ground.

4. Is Port conquering goalkicking woes?
Port’s problems in front of goal reached a crisis point against Richmond a fortnight ago when they went down by 13 points despite having more scoring shots and 16 more inside-50s. It caused coach Ken Hinkley to label forward efficiency and goalkicking as the only thing standing between Port Adelaide and beating the best sides in the league. The coach said he believed much of the Power’s finishing woes were mental. Last Sunday’s 8.3 final term against West Coast might have been the moment Port put its goalkicking demons to rest, the Power forwards again delivering with an 8.1 first term against North. They were scratchy late in the game and Robbie Grey’s struggles from set shots are intriguing given his undeniable skill.

5. Is Majak up to it?
It is not the first time this question has been asked about Majak Daw during seven seasons which have yielded just 30 games. Daw finished the match with just five disposals and made no impact. The big man has never cemented a spot at the Roos and, worryingly, it is still not obvious where his position is. Daw’s lack of aerobic ability and mobility meant North again looked vulnerable when he went into the ruck against Port. When he went forward he made no impact and put no pressure on the Power’s rebounding defenders. His ability to read the player is another concern. He was always going to take time to learn the game, but his progress must be disappointing for North, which re-signed him until 2019 after showing promise late in 2016.

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