AFL 2021 North Melbourne v Adelaide: Ben Cunnington bump to be scrutinised as Kangas lose two players in spirited defeat

Ben Cunnington could be in trouble with the Match Review Panel after a late hit on Adelaide’s Rory Laird in what would be a further blow to the injury-ravaged Kangaroos.

Cunnington’s possible suspension added to Luke McDonald and Cameron Zurhaar both going down in less than a minute as a plucky North Melbourne finally succumbed to the visitors by 41 points.

Midfielder Cunnington will be sweating on the review of the game after he bumped the star Crow after he had dished off the ball.

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Cunnington gave away a free kick for the late hit, which was easily converted by Taylor Walker, and potentially further punishment could come for the Roos’ key midfielder — who has only just recently returned from concussion.

North Melbourne legend David King said it was the exact type of bump the AFL was trying to eradicate from the game.

“(It’s) just disappointing leadership from Ben Cunnington, he is better than that,” he said on Fox Footy.

Ben Cunnington fends off Rory Laird during the clash — but it will be his bump on the Crows onballer that will be scrutinised. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Laird had to leave the ground after the hit but returned, in a boost to Cunnington’s chances of avoiding a ban.

It came after North Melbourne suffered a pair of big injuries in the opening term.

The Roos started slowly against Adelaide at Marvel Stadium, with Crows talisman Taylor Walker kicking the first two goals of the game.

Cameron Zurhaar is helped from the ground after suffering a concussion. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

And the woes were compounded for the Roos with reigning best and fairest winner Luke McDonald substituted out of the game with a pectoral muscle injury, having only returned for his first game of the season.

McDonald does his pec in a jarring tackle. Six seconds later in the same passage of play Zurhaar is knocked out tackling as well. Just sickening bad luck. It’s shaping as that kind of year for the Roos https://t.co/XrjqMiVwFu

McDonald was taken down into the rooms around 10 minutes into the match, holding his arm.

It later emerged that he had suffered an injury to his pectoral, and was replaced by Lachie Young under the medical substitute protocol.

Shortly after the McDonald incident, young bull Cameron Zurhaar was also ruled out of the game with concussion after knocking himself out when attempting a tackle.

Darcy Fogarty (left) and James Rowe celebrate a goal against the Kangaroos. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

CROWS STEADY AS ROOS RUN OUT OF GAS

Adelaide have withstood a resurgent North Melbourne outfit to come away with a 41-point win in a tight contest at Marvel Stadium.

The Crows were tested by the winless Kangaroos who held a four-point lead at the final change but an eight goal to one final term saw them kick away late.

Reilly O’Brien (24 disposals, 31 hit-outs, eight marks) helped take control in the middle with the likes of Lachie Sholl (31 disposals, eight marks, one goal) and Rory Laird (31 disposals) taking full advantage of his silver-service.

North was a far cry from the side which were rolled to the tune of 128 points nine days prior as they pressured, harassed and dared to take the contest on.

However, they ran out of gas in the final-term, not being able to match the Crows’ intensity in the trenches late.

Luke McDonald (pec) and Cam Zurhaar (concussion) were forced off early, meaning the Roos were short-handed for much of the game.

The Kangaroos’ response was there from the off as they matched the Crows’ in and around the contest for much of the opening-half.

However, the difference between the two sides came at the bookends as the Roos were wasteful going forward while the Crows were ruthless — taking advantage of their limited entries to hold a 15-point lead at the half.

North Melbourne’s early wastefulness in-front of goal finally turned to gold, booting three unanswered goals as Tarryn Thomas’ second gave North a four-point lead at the final change.

It wasn’t to be for North as the Crows found another gear late in the contest, as Shane McAdam kicked three of their eight final quarter goals to seal the win.

SHOLL INSPIRES LATE

When it seemed as if the Crows were going to lay down, it was their second-year man who stood up to the plate.

Lachlan Sholl was superb in the final term registering 31 disposals for the game and kicking a crucial goal to help his side register a two-goal lead late in the final term.

Not only did he accumulate the ball, he also reeled in eight marks and accumulated 595 metres gained.

Jaidyn Stephenson and his teammates came up short again at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

ROOS CASUALTIES MOUNT

The casualty ward at Arden Street continues to mount by the week — especially in the back half.

With Robbie Tarrant and Aiden Corr already missing, North’s decimated key defensive stocks took a further hit before the game as Josh Walker was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Returning Syd Barker medallist Luke McDonald was thrusted into a key defensive slot playing undersized in his first game back but was subbed out in the opening term with a pec injury.

Jack Ziebell and Aiden Bonar had to fill the gaps but performed admirably against the much taller Crows’ forward line.

James Rowe (left) and Taylor Walker celebrate as the Crows get on top of the Roos.Source:Getty Images

TEXAN’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGE

The renaissance of Taylor Walker has been a joy to watch for not only Adelaide fans but footy fans alike.

The Big Texan had two goals inside the opening four minutes but following that moment, Ben McKay did a superb job to keep up with the Coleman Medal leader.

Walker ended up booting three for the game but his work around the ground was key, tallying 17 disposals and seven marks as well.

SCOREBOARD

ROOS 2.2, 6.3, 9.7, 10.8 (68)

CROWS 5.2, 8.6, 8.9, 16.13 (109)

D’URBANO’S BEST

Roos: Simpkin, Hall, Goldstein, Ziebell, Powell, Thomas

Crows: Smith, Sholl, Seedsman, O’Brien, Laird, Walker, Keays

GOALS

Roos: Larkey 3, Goldstein 2, Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Phillips

Crows: Walker 3, McAdam 3, Fogarty 3, Schoenberg 2, O’Brien, Seedsman, Murphy, Rowe, Sholl

INJURIES

Roos: Walker (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Campbell, McDonald (pectoral), Zurhaar (concussion)

Crows: Nil

Venue: Marvel Stadium

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

D’URBANO’S VOTES

3: L.Sholl (Adelaide)

2: R.O’Brien (Adelaide)

1: J.Simpkin (North)

Originally published asUgly bump threatens to drain broken Roos even more

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