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Kangaroos eager to atone against Pies

Justin Chadwick 28/03/2011 02:08:25 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne will be out to prove they are no longer the whipping boys of the AFL heavyweights when they take on Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

In six games against the top four sides from last season, the Kangaroos' average losing margin was a woeful 66 points, which included a 66-point loss to the 'Pies in round seven.

North Melbourne's 2011 campaign got off to a disappointing start with a heartbreaking four-point loss to West Coast on Sunday, but coach Brad Scott said the focus had already shifted to putting up a determined effort against last year's premiers Collingwood.

"We had a clear objective at the start of the year to bridge the gap between the top four or five sides and where we were," Scott said.

"So this is our first opportunity against the reigning premiers.

"The top four from last year (St Kilda, Collingwood, Bulldogs, Geelong) beat us pretty convincingly and Collingwood were one of those.

"We get a really good opportunity to have a crack at them on our home ground.

"We'll dust ourselves off and get ready for a huge challenge. Our guys are up for it."

Collingwood will enter the match full of confidence after opening the season with a comprehensive 75-point win over Port Adelaide.

North Melbourne will regain the services of ruckman Todd Goldstein after the 22-year-old was forced out of the Eagles match due to a stomach bug, while Drew Petrie's return from suspension is another timely boost.

Scott was confident Nathan Grima would also be ready to go after overcoming a back injury.

Goldstein's return will prove particularly important after North Melbourne were thrashed 50-18 in the hit-outs against a Dean Cox-inspired West Coast.

Scott praised the effort of swingman Cameron Pedersen, who toiled manfully against Cox and to finish with 20 possessions and 14 hit-outs in his AFL debut.

"He competed really well," Scott said.

"Clearly when you've got a 193cm ruckman rucking against a 204cm All-Australian ruckman, it's always going to be a challenge."

Scott was also pleased with the effort of injury-plagued defender Robbie Tarrant, who in just his third game restricted West Coast forward Josh Kennedy to just one goal.

"He's had a tough start to his AFL career with three shoulder reconstructions," Scott said.

"We've earmarked him to play a key post in defence for us and I thought he went quite well.

"Josh Kennedy's a player I rate highly so he held his own on him."

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