It has taken just four AFL games for the electrifying buzz around Majak Daw to power North Melbourne to a victory.
A six-goal haul from the first Sudanese player in the sport’s top-flight was the difference as the Kangaroos steamrolled a brave Western Bulldogs by 54 points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Playing just his fourth game, Daw starred as North poured on nine final-quarter goals to win 22.19 (151) to 15.7 (97).
The 22-year-old’s imposing presence and athleticism helped him to 6.4 for the match.
Importantly, Daw’s goals came at critical times to lift North as the Bulldogs pressured them for three quarters until tiring and falling apart in the last.
Daw’s pair of late second-quarter goals helped the Kangaroos to a 13-point halftime lead.
Then he grabbed a critical mark and goal seconds before three-quarter time to break the Dogs, and give North an important 19-point lead at the final change to build victory.
His sixth goal came late in the final term to ice the win – North coach Brad Scott admitting surprise that Daw’s learning curve is taking such a sharp, upward swing so early.
“He’s picking things up really quickly now. While he’s not a complete footballer yet, we’re trying to play to his strengths,” Scott said.
“We knew he’d be able to do some of the things he did today, but the consistency of effort was always going to be the challenge for him, and it still is the challenge for him.
“He can do things others can’t, but his challenge is to be able to do it when things aren’t working for him.”
Daw received important help around the goalsquare from veteran Drew Petrie, who booted three goals and offered constant shielding, while on-baller Jack Ziebell’s 27 touches laid the groundwork and grunt.
With just two wins in their previous 20 matches, the Bulldogs threatened an upset for much of the contest – trading goals and four lead changes throughout the third term.
But the Kangaroos found their goalkicking radar in the final term – Scott feeling their first half inaccuracy contributed to the pressure they were under.
Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney felt his side’s first three quarters were among their best efforts of the year, but lamented crucial lapses at key times.
“Their last quarter was very good and we couldn’t keep up,” he said.
“They got hold of us around the ball, and moved it way too easily.
“It was a very good quarter by them, and not our best quarter of footy.”
Midfielder Ryan Griffen was clearly the Bulldogs’ best with 34 possessions, while Nick Lower did a fine job to limit North skipper Andrew Swallow.
Swallow left the field with a knee injury late in the match when Bulldogs player Liam Picken jumped across his leg while attempting a smother.
But Scott said early signs were there was no structural damage to Swallow’s knee.
Defender Aaron Mullett was substituted at halftime with a sprained ankle, while Scott was bullish a back injury to key position player Lachlan Hansen was not serious.
North Melbourne now move to a 3-4 win-loss record, while the Bulldogs are 1-6.