DEVELOPING ruckman Ben Mabon is growing into his role as North Ballarat Roosters’ number one man in the hit-out.
The North Melbourne-listed youngster produced an even duel with Frankston ruck James Orr on Saturday, matched 20 taps each, in the Victorian Football League.
Orr was no easy opponent.
Mabon is in his second year on North Melbourne’s AFL roster but was sidelined much of last season with a back injury. When the Selkirk Roosters lost leading ruckman Orren Stephenson to Geelong in last year’s AFL national draft, Mabon became the number one ruck candidate.
Roosters’ coach Gerard FitzGerald was pleased with the gradual process of a hard-working Mabon, who also took seven marks against the Dolphins.
“He’s starting to find his running patterns, getting toward where we need to be and marking the ball,” FitzGerald said.
“As we’ve improved, Ben’s started to get a handle on his role as our number one ruckman.”
The Roosters have put three consecutive wins together after struggling to secure victory early in the season — but they still sit outside the eight on percentage.
This weekend’s battle against seventh-placed Williamstown offers a chance for the Roosters to break into top-eight rankings.
And Mabon will again play a key role against Western Bulldogs-aligned Seagulls.
North Melbourne rookie Max Warren also started to make his mark in the VFL seniors against Frankston and FitzGerald also hoped to develop his game against Williamstown.
Warren impressed in his defensive work without the ball.
FitzGerald said Warren was a strong chance to play as a small-medium defender with potential to move into a run-with role as an inside defensive midfielder.
A lot would depend on how the game panned out.
The Roosters conducted individual player reviews yesterday.
A Sunday fixture this week, like the Kangaroos, means the Roosters can intensify training sessions tonight and Friday night.
The Roosters have been reaching their defensive targets in the past three wins.
But FitzGerald does not like what he sees on the ladder — points kicked against the Roosters.
This must tighten if the Roosters are to continue their campaign to break into top-eight contention.