North continue Suns’ road woes with upset AFL win

Roger Vaughan |

North Melbourne have continued Gold Coast’s AFL nightmare on the road, beating them by four points in a cracking contest at Marvel Stadium.

The Kangaroos’ pulsating 13.9 (87) to 12.11 (83) win on Saturday is their second win of the season and their first in Melbourne since round one last year.

Apart from their two home wins in Darwin, Gold Coast are winless away from Carrara.

Since his notorious criticism of Marvel Stadium when he was Richmond coach in 2021, Suns coach Damien Hardwick’s record at the venue is eight losses and a draw.

The 11th-placed Suns could have broken into the top eight with a win, but adding to their woes they lost Touk Miller and Sam Day to injury during the match.

North star Luke Davies-Uniacke was mighty in the chaotic last term, showing great poise and almost kicking a superb goal on the run late in the game.

A Paul Curtis goal 17 minutes into the last term proved the match-winner.

After Wil Powell marked and goaled to bring the margin back to five points at 25 minutes, Mac Andrew won the centre square clearance and passed to Ben Ainsworth with 90 seconds left.

But Ainsworth’s shot missed and North held on grimly for the win.

In his first game since a foot injury in round nine, Kangaroos newcomer Colby McKercher had a game-high 37 possessions in defence and Harry Sheezel also starred, while Nick Larkey kicked three goals.

Crucially, North won the clearances 45-29 against the Suns’ talented midfield in a pulsating game that belied its billing of 11th versus last on the ladder.

The narrative around Gold Coast’s problems on the road this season was fuelled when North kicked the opening three goals within six minutes.

Their opening barrage was highlighted by a clever long-range barrel kick off half-back from Tom Powell, which set up Liam Shiels for their third goal.

But the Suns hit back in a hurry, kicking the next five goals for a 12-point lead at quarter-time.

A scything run down the outer wing from Roos young gun McKercher resulted in Larkey’s second goal, and North led by 14 points midway through the second term.

Ben King’s mark and goal from an acute angle reduced that to seven points at the main break.

But Gold Coast suffered a massive blow early in the third term when Miller (wrist) was forced out of the game.

Day, who kicked two goals in the first term, also was out of the game for the final quarter with a lower leg injury.

After North Melbourne youngster Kailan Dawson kicked his first AFL goal in the second term – a booming shot from outside 50m – Suns young gun Andrew also came up from defence and did the same in the third.

Andrew was prominent for the Suns, and Noah Anderson had 30 disposals.