West Coast comfortably had the better of the running and territory in the first half, but they couldn’t make their ascendancy count on the scoreboard. They dominated the inside 50 count 34-12 at half-time.
What restricted their ability to pull ahead was North’s effort and strength around the ball, generally sloppy Eagles play and inaccurate goal-kicking. The last factor is unusual from West Coast, and follows rare inaccuracy last week against Sydney (although they were battered and kicking straight would not have helped).
The moment that led to North being only two points behind late in the term was a bad kick from Josh Rotham. That turned the ball over and Nick Larkey marked inside 50 and converted the set shot.
Later in the term Tom Cole missed an open Dom Sheed kicking inside 50; more evidence of the Eagles uncharacteristic woes given their kicking has been precise for so long. Luckily, Oscar Allen converted a set shot from the boundary after the half-time siren to stretch the lead to eight points.
Final term goals to Zurhaar, Cunnington, Stephenson and Goldstein got North the win, with the Eagles defence unable to curb the Kangaroos when they attacked late.
“Disappointing to lose. I thought we had good supply … We knew North what North was we’re going to bring,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
“We’re low on confidence. The effort was better this week. We have got to make the most of our opportunities. North played a really good brand tonight.
“Decision making, unforced errors we don’t normally make … some hesitation.
“We’ve got to work through it. It’s football, and that happens you get down on form.”
North’s ruck Todd Goldstein broke the record for most career hit outs against the Eagles.
The 33-year-old, 267-game veteran shot to the top of the list, needing only seven hit outs at Optus Stadium to pass Fremantle great Adam Sandilands, who had held the record on 8502.
Goldstein brought the milestone up with four minutes to go in the first term with a tap behind his head at a forward 50 ball up.
Sandilands is now in second with Sam Jacobs of Carlton, Adelaide and GWS third (6789), Dean Cox of West Coast fourth (6628) and Gary Dempsey (Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne) in fifth (6479).
2.0 3.2 6.5 10.10 (70)
2.5 3.10 3.12 8.12 (60)
North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Goldstein 2, Cunnington, Thomas, Stephenson.
West Coast: Ryan 2, Allen 2, Kennedy 2, Kelly, Langdon.
West Coast: Hurn, Naitanui, Sheed, Kelly, Kennedy.
North Melbourne: Stephenson, Simpkin, Ziebell, Davies-Uniacke, Hall, Goldstein, Larkey, Zurhaar.
Margetts, Dalgleish, Johanson.
30,515 at Optus Stadium.
J Stephenson (NM) 8
B Cunnington (NM) 7
J Simpkin (NM) 7
C Zurhaar (NM) 6
L Davies-Uniacke (NM) 6