Luke McDonald opens up about North Melbourne’s pressure game. Picture: Getty Images
Luke McDonald opens up about North Melbourne’s pressure game. Picture: Getty Images

Pressure-packed Roos set sights on ‘sexy Cats’

NORTH Melbourne's focus on playing "tough football" is paying dividends with the 7-4 Kangaroos the AFL's new No. 1 pressure team.

Coach Brad Scott and emerging star Luke McDonald outlined the club's "brand" after the Roos secured three consecutive wins for the first time in more than two years on Sunday.

"We do talk internally a fair bit about what our brand is," Scott said.

"Ultimately you've got to win the ball first. We don't want to be a team that's just trying to get it back all the time off the opposition.

"If you just focus on defence that's what you become - a team that's just trying to get it back all the time.

"We've always worked really hard on the offensive side of the game."

At the halfway mark of 2018 the Kangaroos are ranked No. 3 for contested possession differential and No. 1 for pressure applied, which was the hallmark of Richmond's 2017 premiership.

The Kangaroos are also ranked No. 1 for post-clearance pressure applied and No. 3 for forward-half pressure applied.

North Melbourne’s pressure at its finest. Picture: Michael Klein
North Melbourne’s pressure at its finest. Picture: Michael Klein

Strangely, the Tigers' pressure has dropped right away in recent weeks although their defensive system is still appearing to confuse teams

The revitalised Roos' manic gamestyle has helped topple Hawthorn, Sydney (SCG), GWS and Fremantle (Perth Stadium) this year.

McDonald said they were excited about taking on Geelong's "sexy midfield" on Saturday.

After Round 1 the TAB rated the Kangaroos a $9 chance of playing finals but that has been crunched into $1.35.

"The first half (against Brisbane Lions) we played some really good footy," McDonald told the Herald Sun.

"We played to our brand, which was real nice. It's just hard, tough footy.

"Everyone knows what to expect of each other and everyone's buying in. A lot of the offence comes naturally to us.

"We've got a lot of players who play with a lot of flair and the biggest thing is our defence, that's our biggest focus."

McDonald recorded a career-best 34 disposals and two goals against the Lions with the late inclusion of debutant Tom Murphy pushing the father-son gun further up the ground.

McDonald's 702m gained was 240m more than any Lion.

Tagger Ben Jacobs is set for a role on one of Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield or Mitch Duncan this week.

Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett are three of the best midfielders in the game. Picture: Michael Klein
Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett are three of the best midfielders in the game. Picture: Michael Klein

"They're (the Cats) tracking all right," McDonald said.

"They've got a pretty sexy midfield, they say."

Geelong and North Melbourne boast the No. 1 and No. 2 defences respectively while the Roos won their last trip to Kardinia Park, back in 2015.

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