The first half was so sloppy it was a challenge to keep watching, but eventually North Melbourne overpowered Western Bulldogs to win Sunday’s AFL round-two clash at Etihad Stadium by 29 points.
Brent Harvey kicked three vital goals for North in their 12.11 (83) to 8.6 (54) victory.
It was North’s first win of the season, while the Bulldogs are still winless.
The 35-year-old Harvey finished with 25 disposals and ex-Saint Nick Dal Santo also gave a polished display, although it was hard to find many other good players for the Kangaroos.
Leading by 10 points at three-quarter time, North found some momentum with a six-goal final term to the Bulldogs’ three goals.
Levi Greenwood, with 13 possessions after being subbed on for the final quarter, was a dominant player for the Kangaroos alongside Sam Gibson. North kicked the only two goals of a first quarter that was dominated by skill errors.
A goal on the run from Adam Cooney and a free-kick in front of goal to Liam Jones allowed the Western Bulldogs to edge within two points at half time.
North struggled to move the ball efficiently into their forward line and both sides appeared to pour most of their energies into throwing numbers at the contest, leading to huge packs of players and a severe lack of free-flowing football.
Richmond great Kevin Bartlett said on SEN Radio: “That’s probably the worst half of football we have ever seen.”
Western Bulldogs’ new skipper Ryan Griffen, who missed round one with a back injury, took a strong mark and kicked a goal from 45 metres to give his side the lead at the five-minute mark of the third term.
After a goal-less second term, the Kangaroos showed glimpses of their attacking prowess of last year as they jumped out to a 13-point advantage with three quick goals including one to debutant ruckman Daniel Currie.
North outscored the Bulldogs four goals to three in the third term to lead 6.8 (44) to 5.4 (34) at three-quarter time.
In a see-sawing final term, the Bulldogs trailed by three points at the 11-minute mark after Stewart Crameri’s goal.
But the Kangaroos rallied with four consecutive goals, ending the home side’s hopes of an upset win.
Luke Dalhaus and defenders Robert Murphy and Liam Picken were hard workers for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs host Richmond at Etihad Stadium on Saturday in round three and North face Port Adelaide at the same venue the following day.