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Preview: Sydney v North Melbourne

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15:  Isaac Heeney of the Swans is tackled by Luke McDonald of the Kangaroos during the round 17 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Isaac Heeney of the Swans is tackled by Luke McDonald of the Kangaroos during the round 17 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)

Where and when: Blundstone Arena, Saturday, May 18, 7.25pm AEST

Last time they met: Marvel Stadium, round 17, 2018: Sydney 16.8 (104) defeated North Melbourne 15.8 (98)

Aliir Aliir pounced on the loose ball and ran into an open goal inside the last two minutes to ensure the Swans exacted revenge from similar circumstances earlier in the season. Sydney kicked six majors to North's three in the final term to overcome an 11-point deficit.

What it means for North Melbourne: Another chance to add credibility. The Roos crushed Carlton and challenged Geelong in the last fortnight, so will fancy their chances of knocking off Sydney – and will have expectations of doing that.

What it means for Sydney: The Swans won a thriller against Essendon last week to put some of the external doom and gloom behind them. Beat North Melbourne and the perception of their rebuild will be decidedly rosier. 

How North Melbourne wins: Dominating contested ball. That seems obvious for any side, but Sydney has the worst contested possession differential in the competition in 2019, so there is a real opportunity for the Roos.

How Sydney wins: North's been vulnerable down back this season because of injuries and the pending return of superstar Lance Franklin might be ideal timing. However, much depends on supply, with the Swans also ranked last for inside-50 differential.

The stat: Luke Parker, who was outstanding last week, has dipped below 20 disposals against North Melbourne just once, in 2011, and averages 25.8 possessions in total across 11 games. 

The match-up: Robbie Tarrant v Lance Franklin 

The Roos' best defender (ranked No.246 in the AFL Ratings) against the Swans superstar (No.12). Tarrant's been a rock in defence this year with a bevy of injuries around him, while Franklin is due back from three weeks out with a hamstring setback.

It's a big week for: North showed faith in Jy Simpkin during his early season struggles and he's slowly regained form. Simpkin was one of four Roos with double-digit contested possessions last week and another dose of the same would go a long way to the blue and white prevailing.