NORTH Melbourne has come from behind to overrun a wounded Port Adelaide, with veteran Brent Harvey kicking crucial late goals to seal the seven-point win at Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening.
After a stuttering start to the season, the Kangaroos found their mojo in the second half and reeled in the Power to win 14.13 (97) to 13.12 (90).
Harvey was well-held for most of the evening by Matt White, but he rose when it mattered to kick two goals in the last quarter and seal the win.
Port, who had been unstoppable in final quarters before round three, was hit by injuries to forward Angus Monfries, substituted with a hamstring injury, and Chad Wingard, who played through an ankle complaint.
The Kangaroos, meanwhile, lost Jamie MacMillan to a right leg injury, with defender Lachlan Hansen also sidelined for a period in the third term with a finger injury.
Even umpire Jason Armstrong had an early end to his day after being bowled over by Port Adelaide ruckman Matthew Lobbe in the second quarter.
Young midfielders Ben Cunnington (30 possessions and nine clearances) and Levi Greenwood (34 and six inside 50s) were outstanding for the Kangaroos, with Harvey and Lindsay Thomas kicking three goals each.
Ruckman Todd Goldstein (33 hit-outs and a goal) and veteran Nick Dal Santo (30 possessions and a goal) also lifted in the final term.
"All it did was really confirm what I've always thought about Ben Cunnington," North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said after the match.
"He's just a terrific player in the contest and he was enormous for us today.
"And Levi Greenwood's just the player you love to coach because he's just a natural competitor – he knows no other way than 100-miles an hour at the ball and he's a good athlete. I thought he was fantastic for us."
It looked to be a case of Port Adelaide by how much in the first quarter as it raced to a 20-point lead with the first three goals of the game.
North Melbourne worked back into the contest, chiefly through Thomas, who kicked his three goals in the first half, and Cunnington, who had 11 possessions (seven contested) and four clearances in the second term.
By half-time the Roos had snatched a one-point lead, but a concern for coach Brad Scott would have been his team's inability to turn clearance wins into inside 50s, trailing in that indicator 18-30 at the main break.
The lack of forward entries hurt North Melbourne's tall forwards, with Drew Petrie, Aaron Black and Daniel Currie combining for three marks and one goal in the first half.
Petrie finished the match goalless and with just four possessions, with Port defender Alipate Carlile playing a superb shutdown role.
The Power surged in the third term, kicking five goals while the Roos wasted their opportunities to kick 2.8 and trail by 10 points at the last change.
Ranked No.1 in the AFL in fourth quarters, the script appeared clear-cut for Port, but it couldn't muster its usual running power.
Coach Ken Hinkley conceded the Kangaroos had finished stronger and said his players didn't handle the Roos’ pressure.
"Some of their good players stood up and kicked crucial goals when they needed them," Hinkley said.
"It was a really hard contest with a lot of pressure … they were really good in tight and basically got on top of us with their pressure around the ball and kept running to the end."
Midfielders Hamish Hartlett (21 possessions and two goals) and Robbie Gray (24 and seven clearances) led the way for Port Adelaide.
Wingard kicked two goals, but injured his ankle when he was tackled converting the second.
North Melbourne faces the Sydney Swans (SCG), Collingwood (MCG), Fremantle (Patersons Stadium) and Gold Coast (Etihad Stadium) before its round eight bye.
Port Adelaide takes on the Brisbane Lions (Adelaide Oval), West Coast (Patersons Stadium), Geelong (Adelaide Oval) and Greater Western Sydney (Spotless Stadium) over the next month.
North Melbourne: Thomas, Harvey 3, Mullett 2, Black, Macmillan, Thompson, Goldstein, Dal Santo
Port Adelaide: Schulz 3, Monfries, Wingard, Hartlett 2, Wines, Westhoff, Boak, Braodbent, Jacobs
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Greenwood, Thomas, Bastinac, Atley, Harvey, Dal Santo
Port Adelaide: Hartlett, Gray, Ebert, Wines, Carlile, Boak
North Melbourne: Jack Ziebell (shoulder) replaced in selected side by Ben Jacobs, Jamie Macmillan (right ankle), Lachlan Hansen (finger)
Port Adelaide: Angus Monfries (right hamstring), Chad Wingard (ankle)
North Melbourne: Jamie Macmillan (ankle) replaced by Ben Jacobs in the third quarter
Port Adelaide: Angus Monfries (hamstring) replaced by Jasper Pittard in the third quarter
Umpires: Wenn, Findlay, Armstrong