Defenders star as North Melbourne down Suns

North Melbourne did a tidy job of accounting for the mostly lacklustre Gold Coast Suns by 37 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, in a game that the Kangaroos had to win to stay in touch with their fellow contenders for the top eight.

Brad Scott's men were made to work hard for the four points at stages of the game but never really kicked out of first or second gear for the afternoon. The closest they came to firing on all cylinders was the first term when they pinned the Suns back for the majority, and then the third quarter when they piled on five goals to one.

Majak Daw starred in defence alongside Robbie Tarranr and Scott Thompson.

Majak Daw starred in defence alongside Robbie Tarranr and Scott Thompson.

North are capable of more, but the win was a positive given they had dropped out of the top eight last week, having lost two of their last three games prior to the Suns clash.

Kangaroos defenders Majak Daw, Scott Thompson and Robbie Tarrant were impenetrable, particularly early on, easily repelling Gold Coast's attempts to clear their half. Their dominance was illustrated by Tarrant's nine first-quarter disposals and six marks, and Daw's stunning high-flying pack mark across the Suns' half-back line.

Daw moved into the forward line in the second half and kicked two goals. It was his first foray forward since making the move to defence in the offseason. It made the Roos less predictable going forward and took some of the pressure off Ben Brown who kicked three first-term goals (and four for the match) but was relatively quiet for the rest of the game. Rory Thompson, in his 100th game, did a good job on the Coleman Medal leader even though the scoreboard didn't show it.

Lesser-known Roos Paul Ahern and Ryan Clarke were also shining lights among a 22 of very even performers. Ahern (two goals and six score involvements) and Clarke (one goal and six score involvements) provided their side a load of handy attacking impetus.

The only negative for the Roos was that they didn't come away with a big percentage boost given the way they dominated play.

Suns coach Stuart Dew had committed so many numbers to crowding the Kangaroos' forward 50 that there was rarely a short or medium kick for his team to escape danger. They were therefore forced to kick long to their forwards who stood helpless in the middle of the ground with the North Melbourne defensive triumvirate dominating.

Dew berated his players at quarter time and they responded with a more disciplined approach in the second term. A centre clearance straight off the bat led to a Brayden Crossley goal and after two Roos majors the Suns kicked three of the last four goals – and missed three gettable set shots – to cut the lead to 11 points at half-time.

North went away from doing the simple things well and began to take unnecessary risks, particularly by hand. The Roos' midfield lynchpins Shaun Higgins and Ben Cunnington were finding the ball but had little influence prior to the third term thanks to run-with jobs from Suns Will Brodie and Alex Sexton respectively.

Aaron Young, Callum Ah Chee and Lachie Weller were damaging through the midfield and forward for the Suns while Brown's influence waned as supply dried up.

But by three-quarter time the game was out of the Suns reach. They'd narrowed the gap to 13-points in the second term and easy misses to Josh Schoenfeld, Crossley and Sean Lemmens were frustrating.

Undisciplined acts cost the Suns in the third term and an off-the-ball Steven May bump gifted Higgins the first goal of the half. Ah Chee also gave away a sloppy 50m penalty that resulted in a Ryan Clarke goal, while the Kangaroos piled on four more majors to wrestle back clear control of the game.

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.2 7.4 12.6 14.11 (95)
GOLD COAST 1.0 5.5 6.7 8.10 (58)
GOALS: North Melbourne:
B Brown 4 M Daw 2 P Ahern 2 B Jacobs J Ziebell K Turner R Clarke S Higgins T Goldstein. Gold Coast: A Sexton A Young B Crossley J Martin J Witts N Holman P Wright T Miller.
BEST: North Melbourne:
S Thompson, Daw, Tarrant , Ahern, Macmillan, Clarke, Brown. Gold Coast: Lyons, Martin, Miller, Harbrow, Weller, Schoenfeld, R Thompson.
UMPIRES: Brendan Hosking, Curtis Deboy, Hayden Gavine.
OFFICIAL CROWD: 14,389 at Etihad Stadium.

M Daw (North Melb) 7
R Tarrant  (North Melb) 7
S Thompson (North Melb) 7
R Clarke (North Melb) 6
P Ahern (North Melb) 6

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