Pearce Hanley struggles to keep a grip on Roo Ben Cunnington. Photo: Getty Images
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.5 8.11 13.18 17.23 (125) d BRISBANE LIONS 1.1 3.2 4.2 6.2 (38)
Goals - North Melbourne: L Thomas 4 A Black 3 B Harvey 2 L Adams 2 D Petrie J Ziebell L Greenwood M Daw S Wright T Goldstein. Brisbane Lions: J Green 3 M Close 2 C Beams.
Best - North Melbourne: Harvey, Gibson, Dal Santo, Thomas, Nahas, Cunnington. Brisbane Lions: Redden, Adcock, Golby, Lester, Aish, Green.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Dean Margetts, Robert O'Gorman.
Venue: Etihad Stadium.
The signs weren't good for Brisbane well before North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey posted the first goal seven minutes into Saturday night's game at Etihad Stadium.
Before even the first bounce, as a matter of fact, with the Lions losing key defender Joel Patfull and their best on-baller in Tom Rockliff. Then within a couple of minutes of the start, by which time the Roos had already missed a couple of scoring chances and Harvey and Nick Dal Santo had racked up a dozen touches between them.
North's Majak Daw goes up for the ball along with Daniel Merrett of the Lions. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Thomas (4.2), Black (3.2), Harvey (2.1), Adams (2.0), Daw (1.4), Petrie (1.4), Wright (1.2), Greenwood (1.1), Ziebell (1.1), Goldstein (1.0), Dal Santo (0.1), Gibson (0.1), Swallow (0.1)||Scorers||Green (3.0), Close (2.0), Beams (1.0), Hanley (0.1)|
Harvey's first major was merely tangible acknowledgement of North Melbourne's dominance and the lop-sided contest that was to follow. And so it proved.
It was two goals after 12 minutes, four before time-on, and five before the Lions' Josh Green managed to post the visiting side's solitary goal of the opening term, the point which preceded it having staved off Brisbane's first scoreless opening term since 1993.
The second quarter would follow a similar pattern, the first three goals to the Roos putting them as much as 51 points up before a couple in time-on from Brisbane late inclusion Michael Close reduced the gap to 39 points at the long break.
That Brisbane was even that close was a small wonder, and due as much to the Roos' profligacy in front of goal as any belated resistance by Brisbane - the lack of pressure applied by the Lions on the ball carrier and general sluggishness apparent very early in the piece.
And for North, Harvey was far from the only grateful recipient. He was one of three Roos to have racked up 20 disposals or more by half-time - Sam Gibson leading the way with 22, and Dal Santo also having a picnic.
Skipper Andrew Swallow, in his first game for nearly a year, couldn't have asked for a more accommodating return, putting together a neat 18 disposals until he was subbed out of the game for Ryan Bastinac at three-quarter time. And up forward, the likes of Aaron Black and Lindsay Thomas knew they were going to get plenty of opportunities.
The gulf between the teams was evident even when Brisbane did get its hands on the pill, the Lions managing to waste what few scoring chances came their way, and generally make a meal of their field disposal, too. It was sad at times watching the towering figure of Jonathan Brown lumbering around the Lions' forward line struggling for touch and touches.
At least he avoided being the subject of an embarrassing howler. Like when Pearce Hanley won himself a free kick with a lovely tackle for a hold-the-ball decision only to gift the spoils straight back to the Roos.
Or when Daniel Merrett marked at least 20 metres in the clear but somehow failed to see Drew Petrie coming at him. From that spill, North's Shaun Atley kicked the ball off the ground to himself, easily slipped a half-hearted tackle from young Lion Darcy Gardiner, and set up another opportunity for Jack Ziebell.
Midway through the first term, the Lions had somehow managed to scrape together half a dozen inside 50 entries, as many as the Roos. Far more telling, though, was the figure at that moment for marks inside 50 - five for North, zip for Brisbane.
Neither would Close's little cameo at the end of the second term provide any encouragement. It was business as usual after the long break, the Roos posting the first four of the quarter before the Lions eked out one in response, the margin now threatening to blow out towards three figures.
Apart from that perverse satisfaction, the excitement by now for North fans was about individuals. About how former Tiger Robin Nahas continues to add something to the mix with his speed and tackling pressure. And the sheer excitement provided by the magnificent athletic specimen that is Majak Daw. The latter might have finished with four or five goals had his kicking boots been on, but what was clear enough is that he has plenty to offer.
As do the Roos, of course. But exactly how much we're only to get a better idea of next Friday night when North takes on Geelong at Simonds Stadium. That will be some sort of challenge. This pasting, in contrast, wasn't much more than a training run.