North Melbourne Kangaroos surprise GWS Giants, hop into top four

ROO BEAUTY: Kangaroos defender Jasper Pittard and Trent Dumont celebrate Pittard kicking a goal against the Giants on Sunday at Giants Stadium. Picture: Mark Koelbe/Getty Images
ROO BEAUTY: Kangaroos defender Jasper Pittard and Trent Dumont celebrate Pittard kicking a goal against the Giants on Sunday at Giants Stadium. Picture: Mark Koelbe/Getty Images

If not for the Suns' demolition of West Coast on Saturday night, it would have been the upset of the round.

But North Melbourne surprised many fans with a sprightly 12.8 (80) to 8.12 (60) win over last year's grand finalists GWS Giants on Sunday at Giants Stadium.

It was a messy but tight contest for three quarters before the Kangaroos found their groove in the fourth, booting six goals to three to secure the win.

The result also means North Melbourne have jumped into the AFL's top four.

Todd Goldstein (51 hit outs and 19 possessions) was huge for the winners, while Shaun Higgins (28 disposals) and Jy Simpkin (25) led the midfield.

However, it was the energetic performances of small forwards Cameron Zuhaar and Taryn Thomas, with three and two goals respectively, that would please coach Rhyce Shaw the most.

For the Giants, Jeremy Finlayson, Harry Himmelberg and Harry Parryman booted two goals apiece while the returning Callan Ward - in his first game since suffering an ACL injury in round four, 2019 - led the midfield with 19 possessions.

Around 350 Giants members were allowed into Giants Stadium and they were vocal from the opening bounce.

While the home side managed a slick first centre clearance through Stephen Coniglio, neither side could grab the ascendancy in the first quarter.

The two teams managed a point each in the opening five minutes. They looked slick on the run, but were unable to find that key target inside 50.

The Kangaroos were first to make a significant score, with the first goal coming via Cameron Zurhaar.

A lovely kick inside 50 from Lachie Whitfield set up GWS' first goal, with Jeremy Finlayson kicking truly.

North Melbourne dominated the free kick count, 9-2, in the opening quarter but were unable to take advantage.

Both sides were messy in front of goals, with the Giants leading 1.4 (10) to 1.2 (8) at the first break.

In the second quarter, Zurhaar had the first chance to score but his snap swayed wide.

However, the bullish North forward made up for it shortly afterwards, selling some candy to beat his opponent and dribble through a goal from the goal square. The visitors led by five points.

The scrappy affair continued and it was fitting that a scrappy contest in the Giants' attack saw the ball fall to Harry Perryman's feet, who dribbled through a goal and level the scores.

Both sides had their chances late in the quarter, but could only muster minor scores.

North had the last attacking raid of the half. A lovely clearance from Goldstein led to Jack Ziebell beating a couple of opponents to take a strong mark.

Ziebell's kick inside 50 was marked by teammate Aaron Hall, but his shot after the siren swayed wide. The teams went into half time locked up at 2.6 (18) all.

The Giants came out strongly after half time, with Finlayson beating opponent Josh Walker to take a strong mark and kick truly. His goal helped the home side take a six-point lead.

North Melbourne won the next centre clearance and spent the next few minutes peppering inside 50 without reward.

A nice kick from the boundary line by Thomas helped break North's goal-scoring deadlock and they led by two points.

The Giants appeared to have made an immediate reply when Toby Greene booted the ball from outside 50. However, Jamie McMillan's lunging effort on the goal line led to a score review, and they controversially ruled a behind.

But GWS continued to press hard and appeared to have broken the game open with two quick goals. Callan Ward toed through a goal before Perryman also kicked truly as the Giants led by 11 points.

However, it was again North Melbourne who managed to salvage the ascendancy.

Goldstein grabbed the ball cleanly from a ruck contest and snapped a goal, before teammate Ben Brown also kicked a major.

The Kangaroos then surprised the home crowd when defender Jasper Pittard floated forward and bombed home a goal from just inside 50, to give North Melbourne a 6.8 (44) to 5.10 (40) advantage going into three-quarter time.

North Melbourne was able to hit the scoreboard first in the fourth quarter. A nice chip inside 50 from Pittard led to Curtis Taylor marking and kicking the goal, as North Melbourne led by nine points.

Polec's class started to shine through in this quarter, setting up Bailey Scott who marked and kicked the goal as the Kangaroos led 8.8 (56) to 5.11 (41).

But GWS refused to give in. After winning the next centre clearance, Harry Himmelberg found teammate Jeremy Cameron inside 50 and he snapped truly to cut the deficit to nine points.

Momentum was all with the Giants, as Himmelberg kicked truly from the boundary line and GWS trailed 8.8 (56) to 7.11 (53).

However, the Roos managed to wrestle back momentum, with Thomas picking up the ball cleanly and nailing a goal from just inside 50 to extend North Melbourne's advantage to nine points.

The Kangaroos won the next clearance and were rewarded when Zurhaar received a free kick in front of goals. Zurhaar didn't miss and the visitors led 10.8 (68) to 7.12 (54).

Polec then appeared to put the icing on the cake when he nailed the goal from outside 50, giving North Melbourne a healthy 20-point lead.

With the clock ticking down, the Giants quickly moved the ball forward and Himmelberg was able to kick his second goal.

However, the visitors then put the game beyond doubt when Trent Dumont set up captain Jack Ziebell to kick North Melbourne's 12thgoal.

It was the final dagger in the Giants' heart, as the Kangaroos secured a 12.8 (80) to 12.8 (60) victory.

This story North Melbourne Kangaroos surprise GWS Giants, hop into top four first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.