Kennedy a focus for Kangaroos defence

Shutting down West Coast forward Josh Kennedy will be a top priority for under-pressure North Melbourne in Hobart.

Kennedy plays his 150th game for the second-placed Eagles on Sunday and last round kicked six goals in their convincing 56-point win over Geelong.

North half-forward Jarrad Waite conceded Kennedy is very much on the team’s radar as they try to correct a 4-5 win-loss record which has them 13th on the ladder.

“We just hope (the backs) do their job and nullify him early,” Waite said of Kennedy.

“We all know how dangerous he is when he gets in front of goal.”

West Coast assistant coach Brady Rawlings said the Eagles are expecting Kennedy to attract plenty of attention.

“Most weeks Josh is dealing with extra (markers) down there,” Rawlings told reporters.

“We’re expecting attention again and their defence with (Scott) Thompson and (Lachlan) Hansen and (Michael) Firrito are all strong bodies.”

But Rawlings said the game could well be won in the ruck, where Nic Naitanui will meet Todd Goldstein in a much-anticipated contest.

“It’s definitely a match-up that will go a long way to deciding the result,” he said.

“Nic and Todd are both probably the top two or three ruckman in the competition at the moment.”

A win for North is going to mean maintaining pressure throughout all quarters, Waite said, and not falling into the trap of last round which saw them produce a strong first half and then collapse in the third term.

“West Coast are a very good team and we really need to come out strong and put a good first quarter together and hopefully that will hold us in good stead,” he said.

“What happened last week: we played really good in that first half, we can’t let the second half go.

“The competition is so tight at the moment, we have these little lapses and (it) costs you the game.”

The Kangaroos welcome back from injury captain Andrew Swallow, while the Eagles will embrace the return of form midfielder Elliot Yeo.

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