Yet another Good Friday thumping at the hands of the Western Bulldogs has left North Melbourne fending off suggestions another team should get their highly valued public holiday fixture.
The Kangaroos had lobbied the AFL for decades to be allowed to play on Good Friday, eventually playing the first fixture in 2017.
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The marquee match against the Western Bulldogs hasn't become the lucrative draw North Mlebourne had hoped it would though, with the Kangaroos now having lost four of the five Good Friday matches following their 62-point beatdown at the hands of the Bulldogs.
Of even more concern for the Kangaroos will be the lopsided margin of victory in each of those - an average losing margin of 64 points makes for some horror reading.
The latest Good Friday loss has once again sparked calls for the AFL to step in and give another club a shot at the marquee fixture, an eventuality the Kangaroos will be desperate to avoid.
With the most recent defeat following a 128-point loss in the same fixture 12 months earlier, first-year head coach David Noble was forced to fend off suggestions the club didn't deserve the spot.
“As a whole of club it‘s not just about the game,” Noble said.
“Between us and the Bulldogs during the last six or seven years we‘ve worked really hard to make this a marquee game.
“If you go back and have a look at the history of our marquee games, there are a lot of other clubs who haven‘t hit the mark in those games.
“Over a period of time you‘re able to wrestle things together, improve performance and therefore those marquee games hold."
Which @AFL teams would you prefer to see play the Good Friday marquee game? 🤔
After another poor performance, Cameron Ling says the Kangaroos aren't good enough to be included in the special fixture.
"It's not a must-watch match. They have to be better." #AFL pic.twitter.com/zs76aAODfR
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) April 16, 2022
If rival clubs were circling around the battling club's prized fixture, Noble had a short message - the Roos plan on fighting 'tooth and nail' to hang on to it.
“We’re fighting like tooth and nail on this game. We love this game. We’re very privileged to play in this game, but yeah, we would not expect to lose this game," he said.
"We expect to play in this game every year, we’re making it a marquee game.
“I understand today is a big piece of it, but it’s a bit broader than that. We do a lot of work behind the scenes as a club to support the Royal Children’s Hospital and Good Friday.”
North Melbourne thumped by Bulldogs in Good Friday fixture
The game was effectively over at quarter-time after the Bulldogs had piled on eight goals to one to lead the shell-shocked Kangaroos by 45 points.
The Kangaroos fought their way back into the game with a five-goal-to-two second term, sparking the pro-North crowd into delirium.
But the early damage proved insurmountable for North as last year's beaten grand finalists improved their record to 2-3 by winning 21.13 (139) to 11.5 (71).
Bulldogs star Bailey Smith continued his prolific start to 2022, gathering 22 first-half possessions on his way to a career-high 43.
Livewire Cody Weightman did his best work early, booting four first-quarter goals as his feats immediately brought back memories of Josh Bruce's 10-goal haul against the Kangaroos last year.
Weightman slotted his fifth late in the contest for the biggest haul of his 24-game career.
Key forward Aaron Naughton made up for a frustrating and inaccurate start to the season by finishing with 5.3 in a much-needed confidence boost.
Captain Marcus Bontempelli was used in a deep forward role and the move reaped dividends with three goals, including two in the first term.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge, however, was far from satisfied after allowing the Kangaroos back into the game after such a commanding start.
"I thought we went away from some of those fundamental things that worked well for us early in the game," Beveridge said.
"We're always searching for the perfect game and there was a lot right about this afternoon; the way we've started the way, we can't choose as beggars for absolute perfection."
Jy Simpkin, in his 100th AFL game, was clearly the Kangaroos' best player as the improving midfielder racked up 27 possessions.
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