North Melbourne’s miserable start to the AFL season continued on Friday night 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 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’s Travis Boak won the medal for best afield, admitting that the game had turned into a tough battle.
“It was a bit of a scrappy fight towards the end,” he told Channel Seven. “We hung in there and sometimes you have to play tough footy towards the end. Got the four points.”
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 of the game.
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. By game’s end, the home side were plus-23 in the key statistic.
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.