NORTH Melbourne has ended Port Adelaide's unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 10-point victory at Bellerive.The Kangaroos improved their season to 2-4 with a 14.9 (93) to 12.11 (83) win at their part-time Hobart base, seeing off a spirited Port side that sent a final quarter scare into the home side.
Port Adelaide is now 5-1 after proving early-season surprise packets, and they fought hard but were outmuscled by a home side hardened by a tough opening to their campaign.
North had nine goal scorers with Drew Petrie bagging three and Aaron Black, Lindsay Thomas and Leigh Adams kicking two each.
For Port, Jay Schulz kicked three and Chad Wingard two.
The Kangaroos kicked seven goals to one in the first quarter to lead by 33 at the first break before the gallant Power fought back in the second to be down by just 15.
North booted three goals to one in the third to lead by 28 at three-quarter time before managing just two to Port's five in the last.
The Kangaroos' tough losses to big guns Collingwood, Geelong, Sydney and Hawthorn should have stood them in good stead against a side whose scalps included strugglers Melbourne, GWS and Gold Coast.
But they again showed the lapses that have cost them so far in 2013.
“We knew they’d come back, they’ve done that all year," a relieved Brad Scott said after the match.
"We know they can score quickly and if you look at the talent they’ve got on their list now they’re assembling a very good midfield brigade and they can be very dangerous, so we had to stay ‘on’ for the whole game."
Without grounded head coach Ken Hinkley, who stayed in Adelaide after suffering from a virus midweek, Port looked to be continuing their impressive start to the season when diminutive Jake Neade booted the first goal of the match.
But North upped the physical pressure and kicked the next seven, including two from Black, to take a commanding 44-11 lead to the first break.
Port fought back with five goals to two in the second, including two to Wingard, to get themselves back into the game at 58-43 at the long break.
The Kangaroos stifled anything Port could offer in the third to lead 79-51 at the final change but needed to find some desperation in the final minutes to hang on.
Standing in as senior coach due to Ken Hinkley’s absence with a virus, Port Adelaide's director of coaching and strategy Alan Richardson was clear in his summation of the afternoon for Port.“We’re pleased we hung in there, but that would have been absolutely pinching the game,” he said.
“We got beaten fairly badly across the day in the really critical markers.
“The boys have clearly got a never say die attitude, their spirit to want to compete and run was impressive.
“Overall we got beaten - clearly got beaten.”
A beautiful Tasmanian day greeted North Melbourne and Port Adelaide players in Hobart. Picture: AFL Media
NORTH MELBOURNE 7.2 9.4 12.7 14.9 (93)
PORT ADELAIDE 1.5 6.7 7.9 12.11 (83)
North Melbourne: Petrie 3, Black 2, Thomas 2, Adams 2, Ziebell, Wells, Wright, Goldstein, Daw
Port Adelaide: Schulz 3, Wingard 2, Neade, Renouf, Broadbent, Gray, Monfries, Wines, Lobbe
North Melbourne: Bastinac, Wells, Cunnington, Ziebell, Swallow, Gibson
Port Adelaide: Boak, Cornes, Cassisi, Ebert, Wines, Wingard
North Melbourne: Black (corked thigh)
Port Adelaide: Nil
North Melbourne: Majak Daw replaced by Taylor Hine at three-quarter time
Port Adelaide: Brent Renouf replaced by Paul Stewart in the third quarter
Reports: Chad Wingard reported for high contact on Ben Cunnington during the final term.
Umpires: Stewart, Meredith, McInerney
Official crowd: 10,265 at Blundstone Arena