By Paul Sebastiani (@paolo016)
The Northern Blues suffered a narrow three-point loss in a thrilling finish against North Melbourne at Avalon Airport Oval.
Having led by as many as six goals in the third term in torrential conditions, the Blues couldn’t hold off a fast-finishing Roos outfit.
The 12. 12. (84) to 12. 9. (81) result saw marked improvement from the Blues, who brought physicality and intent to the coalface.
There were four more Blues who were playing their first games following on from the eight last week, including VFL off-season recruits Josh Hill and Jesse Palmer.
It was all guns blazing early for the Blues with Jed Lamb propelling his side to a three-goal lead into the first break.
Defending against the wind in the second term, the Blues were up against it with North bringing the margin back to single figures.
However, Patrick Kerr made his presence felt right on the stroke of half-time, taking a strong contested mark before nailing the set shot to give his side some breathing space.
Four straight goals to open the third term brought about a 36-point margin for the Blues, only for two late goals to North Melbourne’s Narrier and Xerri giving the home side momentum in the last quarter.
The same two players bobbed up again early in the last term to make for a nervy last quarter, before majors to youngsters Kym Lebois (three goals) and Cameron Polson (two goals) steadied the ship.
However, using the aid of the breeze to full advantage, the Roos kicked the final two majors of the match to take the lead for the first time with five minutes remaining and held on for the win.
Ruckman Andrew Phillips and key defender Sam Rowe continued their return from long injury layoffs to be two of their side’s best for the afternoon.
Defender Matthew Shaw produced his best performance with 20 disposals off half back, while vice-captain Mason Blakey stood up consistently in big moments.
The Northern Blues have a bye next week, before hosting reigning premiers Port Melbourne in Round 4 at Preston City Oval.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 4.6 6.8 12. 12. (84)
NORTHERN BLUES 4.2 6.4 10.9 12. 9. (81)
Northern Blues: Lamb 3, Lebois 3, McKay 2, Polson 2, Hill, Kerr
Northern Blues: Phillips, Shaw, Lamb, Rowe, Wilson, Blakey