Preuss wins ruck battle but Giants get the points
TWO years ago Todd Goldstein was the All-Australian ruckman and North Melbourne's Syd Barker Medallist after a dominant season that lifted the Roos into the preliminary final.
Three games into 2017 and he has arguably been overtaken as the club's No.1 big man by a rookie sensation.
Braydon Preuss might only have three senior matches under his belt but his performance in Saturday's 42-point loss to flag favourites GWS showed just how highly rated the 21-year-old is by coach Brad Scott.
Despite Goldstein retuning from an ankle injury which ruled him out of last week's clash against Geelong, Preuss squared off against Shane Mumford at the first bounce at Blundstone Arena and shouldered the majority of the ruck work throughout the day.
Far from overawed by taking on one of the league's behemoths, the 206cm, 109kg rugby league convert threw himself into the contest to be one of the most influential players on the ground.
By halftime he had accumulated nine possessions, five marks, 15 hitouts and two goals - one a 60m bomb off a step in the first quarter and the first major of the second when he grabbed the ball from a boundary throw in, snapped on his left 20m out and got a bounce which would have pleased Shane Warne.
Goldstein, spending a lot more time forward, had just three hitouts with his nine touches and a goal.
By the final siren Preuss had 16 possessions, nine marks and 26 hitouts in an epic battle with Mumford but it wasn't enough to prevent North from starting the season 0-3, as the Giants spoiled Jack Ziebell's 150th celebrations.
The Roos skipper did his best against the tide with 14 contested possessions among his 28 and nine clearances, but in the end the seemingly endless rotation of midfielders at GWS swamped the home side at their Hobart fortress.
The Giants pumped the ball forward 28 times in the second quarter for a disappointing return of 3.7, but there was always the sense the visitors had the answers even if they couldn't land the killer punch until late in the match.
Josh Kelly - who had been in the headlines all week following the reported $9 million, nine-year offer being prepared by North - put in another best on ground effort, chalking up a game high 31 disposals while adding 1.1, with Dylan Shiel, Callan Ward and Tom Scully combining for 81 touches between them.
Star forward Jeremy Cameron finished with 3.3, but after he, Kelly and Sam Reid all rattled the woodwork in the third quarter the 15-point lead at the final change should have been much bigger.
However it mattered little when Nathan Wilson jagged the important first goal of the last stanza, receiving a handball from Adam Kennedy in the middle of the ground, taking one bounce and launching accurately from 55m to finally give the side the breathing space they needed.