By Paul Sebastiani (@paolo016)
The Northern Blues suffered their third defeat of the season, going down to reigning premiers Port Melbourne at Preston City Oval.
The Blues struggled to withstand a strong finish to the match from the Borough on the way to a 10. 8. (68) to 15. 22. (112) result.
The youthful Northern outfit stuck with Port for the majority of the game, but were made to rue a dominant third quarter from the away side.
Three goals in the first five minutes of the contest to Port Melbourne had the Blues back half stretched early.
Despite the slow start, the Blues fought back hard late in the first quarter to keep themselves in the contest trailing by only two goals.
Forward Jesse Palmer paired up with Nick Graham in kicking the first two majors of the second term to get the home side within a point.
For all the Blues hard work early in the quarter, however, Port had the answers, as they managed to keep their noses in front.
Two late goals in the term left the Blues trailing by 16 points heading into the second half, before an early goal from Palmer in the third quarter gave the Blues a chance.
However, it was the queue for the reigning premiers to take hold of the game against their more inexperienced opponents.
The Borough piled on six goals in a row across the third and fourth quarters to take the game away from Northern, with 44 points the final margin.
Second-gamer Palmer would ultimately finish with four goals, while young Carlton forward Patrick Kerr bobbed up late to finish with three goals for the game.
Captain Tom Wilson stood up all day in the heart of midfield with a team high 30 disposals and nine inside 50s. He was supported by Graham who battled hard for his two goals and 27 disposals.
Darcy Lang also returned to action successfully, collecting 17 disposals and emerging unscathed in his first game of 2018 following an ankle injury.
The Blues were down on the bench from early in the game, with speedster David Cuningham not returning to the field following a suspected leg injury.
The Northern Blues head to SkyBus Stadium next weekend to take on Frankston. The game will be the second in a double-header, with the Carlton VFLW side taking on the Southern Saints in the season opener.
NORTHERN BLUES 3.3 6.6 7.6 10. 8. (68)
PORT MELBOURNE 5.4 8.10 12.17 15. 22. (112)
Northern Blues: Palmer 4, Kerr 3, Graham 2, McCabe
Northern Blues: Palmer, Graham, Wilson, Kerr, Macreadie, Keppel