It’s something of a novel position to be in for me to follow a club that doesn’t know who its senior coach will be next year.
North Melbourne’s miserable start to the AFL season has continued with a 16-point loss to Port Adelaide.
Port’s Sam Gray kicked four goals in his side’s 12.16 (88) to 11.6 (72) win on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.
Last-placed North slumped to a fifth loss in six games, with stalwart Luke McDonald hobbled by a knee injury.
McDonald limped from the field in the second quarter but returned with his right knee strapped and in clear discomfort in the last half.
Port jumped the Roos early, booting five goals to two to take a 17-point quarter-time lead.
The Power, with Gray slotting three first-half goals, extended their advantage to 28 points at halftime before a brief Kangaroos fightback.
North booted the opening two goals of the third term to reduce the deficit to 16 points before Port again kicked away.
The Power held a 41-point lead 11 minutes into the final term before a belated charge from North, who scored the last five goals.
“We could sit here and be a little critical of our finish … but we had numerous (scoring) opportunities again in the last quarter,” Port coach Ken Hinkley said.
“And North Melbourne were going for it … they really challenged us for a period in the last quarter.”
Port’s ex-captain Travis Boak was superb in his club’s fourth win of the season, gathering a game-high 38 disposals including 11 clearances and nine inside-50s.
Boak also scored a goal and, with his midfield partners Tom Rockliff (27 possessions) and Ollie Wines (26 touches), created a decisive advantage around the packs.
By halftime, the Power had won 26 more contested possessions than the Kangaroos and, by game’s end, they were plus-23 in the key statistic.
“The fight was evident, we were doing a lot of things right but we just lacked the polish,” North coach Brad Scott said.
“Port are a very good pressure team … and we probably played into their hands a few times and tried to be to perfect with our ball movement.”
Port’s parochial 36,099-strong crowd booed Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard at every disposal – the pair joined North from the South Australian club at the end of last season.
Polec (17 possessions) kicked a stunning goal from the boundary line in the second quarter but, like Pittard (23 touches), had minimal impact.
North’s third-gamer Nick Larkey kicked three majors and captain Jack Ziebell (24 disposals) booted two, while Ben Cunnington (35 disposals) and Jed Anderson (26 possessions) were prominent.
But Kangaroo spearhead Ben Brown was held goalless by Tom Clurey, given the task in the absence of co-captain Tom Jonas who was a late withdrawal because of a calf injury.
North playmaker Shaun Higgins (illness) was also a late scratching.