Roos celebrate the return of a key player and Brent Harvey stars.
Brent Harvey put on an AFL masterclass as North Melbourne cruised to an 87-point win over Brisbane at Docklands on Saturday reports Back Page Lead.
Harvey was irrepressible in his 370th match for the Kangaroos, underpinning the hosts’ impressive run through the middle and encapsulating the ease in which they found loose men all over the ground.
The 36-year-old booted two goals and helped himself to a game-high 39 disposals as North triumphed 17.23 (125) to 6.2 (38).
Inaccurate goal-kicking from the Kangaroos saved the gastro-ridden Lions from suffering record-breaking humiliation, instead of mere embarrassment.
Josh Green’s late goal ensured it was not the Lions’ lowest score since the merger between Fitzroy and Brisbane, but 6.2 (38) represents their lowest mark in Melbourne since the two clubs became one in 1996.
Captain Andrew Swallow, playing his first AFL game since rupturing an Achilles tendon in round 18 last year, Nick Dal Santo and Sam Gibson were all influential in North’s midfield dominance.
Lindsay Thomas kicked four goals, while Majak Daw and Drew Petrie clutched four contested marks each but struggled to convert and finished with a combined tally of 2.8.
While North were desperate to atone for a loss to Gold Coast and re-enter the top eight, the Lions’ limited depth was further stretched by a gastro bug.
The Lions, already minus key players Matthew Leuenberger (knee), Daniel Rich (knee), Ash McGrath (calf) and Brent Staker (calf), were forced to leave sick duo Tom Rockliff and Joel Patfull out of their squad.
Dayne Zorko, substituted out of the game after three touches, and Daniel Merrett were among those Lions on the field to feel the effects of the bug.
The visitors simply could not create any extended periods of pressure, with the contested possession count 146-88 in North’s favour.
“Sometimes training is even harder than this, as you’ve got 22 blokes in the reserves trying to get a game,” Campbell Brown said in the third quarter while calling the game for Triple M.
“I can’t see any will to fight, and some of their senior players have been their worst.”
The win was crucial for the ‘Roos, who face a tough month ahead with away matches against Geelong, West Coast and Adelaide.
Swallow finished with 18 touches and was substituted off at three-quarter time.