As it has happened, the Kangaroos and the Lions are scheduled to face-off in a bottom of the table Round 23 clash for the ages. Many have dubbed this match as the battle for the ‘Cameron Raynor Cup’, as the loser will gain access the first draft selection to either use as trade bait, but most likely take to the National Draft.
Although there is little to be gained coming away with the four points from this game (apart from some victorious beers for the winning side!), for those of us searching for the Holy Grail in our SuperCoach league Grand Finals or a climb up the rankings, there are plenty of ramifications in Fantasyland to come out of this game.
Here’s a look at the players who could make or break our seasons:
If you were part of the brave 3.5% of coaches who started the year with Zorko, your decision has been validated. The livewire has starred in a lacklustre team, averaging 110 and has only missed just the one game through suspension. As he has shown on numerous occasions this season, Zorko simply loves playing at the Gabba, highlighted by his herculean 196 point monster against the Cats in Round 16. Although his 3 round average is a subdued 93, a big score is never far away with the ‘Magician’ – and he might just run all over a North side who may not even bother putting any time into him defensively. If you’ve still got a trade up your sleeve, I’d consider bringing in Zorko, who could also be a handy VC loophole option.
Although Zorko’s output had been down the last couple of weeks, it has been the other Dayne, Dayne Beams, who has regained the mantle as the Lions’ main midfield man. Despite adversity throughout the year, the skipper has finally got his body right and his form has escalated. Back in 2015 was the last time Beams played the Roos, where he was tagged by Cunnington and restricted to 20 touches, but it’s difficult to see the same thing happening again. Hopefully the former Pie can get through the game unscathed and pump out another big score.
Although it took him until Round 14 to make his debut, Witherden has emerged as one of the best cash-cows for 2017. In addition to his ability to generate dollars, he has instilled his owners with a sense that he can be counted-upon with his consistency of scoring. Due to the amount of injuries throughout the league, many coaches will yet again be relying on Witherden to produce a respectable output. One would imagine that the young fellas will still be motivated to prove their mettle, and perhaps Witherden will see this as an opportunity to press his claims as a potential Rising Star?
Although he is much maligned in Fantasyland for his inability to produce big scores alongside Archie Smith, Stefan Martin has scored the second most SuperCoach points out of any ruckman in 2017. This week he will probably be up against the tag-team combo of Goldstein and Preuss, but we know that the former Demon loves to rack up the ball around the ground. Stef should also feel relatively comfortable facing the Roos, having scored three tons against them during his career.
With the departure of many veterans last season, Higgins, 29, suddenly became one of North’s senior players. In a midfield that is often considered one-paced, the former Dog provides a point of difference with his speed and ball use. However, his improved contested ability has given him more opportunity at the coalface to allow him to score more consistently. I think that the open nature of that this game promises to be, should suit the outside run of Higgins who picked up 32 touches last week.
The plethora of midfield injuries to the likes of Neale, Selwood and Pednlebury may open the door for someone like Mountford to fill a spot as part of our 22. Although this appears concerning on paper, the youngster has shown promising signs in the past few weeks, with scores that include 72 and 82. With it being the last game of the season, last year’s draftee will be keen to show the North Melbourne fraternity that he is a capable player as he eyes cementing his role in the Kangaroo midfield in 2018.