Highlights: North Melbourne v Brisbane Lions
The Roos and Lions clash in round 9
Scott Thompson in action against the Lions on Saturday night
NORTH Melbourne has cruised to its fifth win of the season, picking apart a listless Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium to win by 87 points on Saturday evening.
Led by brilliant veteran Brent Harvey, the Kangaroos notched the biggest win of their hot and cold 2014 campaign and moved to fifth on the ladder, winning 17.23 (125) to 6.2 (38).
A gastro bug had worked its way through the Lions camp and it might have struck more than just Tom Rockliff and Joel Patfull, who were late withdrawals 90 minutes before the match.
The visitors, who kicked just one goal in the first and third quarters, were beaten in every key indicator and remain on the bottom of the ladder with a 1-8 record.
Harvey was sensational for the Kangaroos, running free to rack up 39 possessions and kick two goals, showing up his younger opponents with a tireless work-rate.
Midfielders Sam Gibson (35 and 10 marks) and Nick Dal Santo (34 and eight) were also prolific, while forward Lindsay Thomas booted four goals.
In an encouraging performance, Roos forward Majak Daw attracted the ball and took contested marks, but he couldn't finish off his work, kicking 1.4.
Indeed, inaccuracy cost the Kangaroos a triple-figure victory in a match that saw them have 40 scoring shots to eight.
You don't know what you're going to get from North Melbourne week to week this season, but the pattern was set early on Saturday as Harvey, Dal Santo and Gibson ran free to combine for 34 possessions in the first quarter.
There was a clear discrepancy in work-rate and by half-time the Roos were dominating contested ball 75-46. They won the key indicator 146-88 over four quarters.
"It's around that contest that we were looking to improve today," coach Brad Scott said.
"It's pretty clear for us that when we do that well we're pretty competitive, but when we lose that statistic badly, like most teams we fall away.
"So the outcome this year at times looks like we've been a bit inconsistent and that's a fact, we can't shy away from that."
Summing up the Lions' apparent lack of desire, in the second quarter North ruckman Todd Goldstein ran past three stationary Lions to mark on the wing.
Minutes later, small forward Lindsay Thomas kicked back-to-back goals, the first running into an open goalsquare and the second after marking uncontested 10m out.
"It's just a lesson for our guys," Leppitsch said. "We didn't throw a counter-punch all day … we waited for them to pick up the ball before we reacted.
"Desire, confidence, proactiveness, its all sort of bundled up together. Which one is it?
"All I know is it looks like they're in front with the ball in their hands and we're chasing."
Starved of opportunities, Jonathan Brown had just one kick and one handball to his name at half-time and he wouldn't register a possession in the second half.
North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow made a drama-free return from an Achilles injury, running through the midfield and winning 18 possessions and five clearances before being substituted at three-quarter time.
Brisbane Lions midfielder Claye Beams also played his first game this season after recovering from a foot fracture.
Andrew Swallow fires out a handball in his comeback game on Saturday night. Picture: AFL Media
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.5 8.11 13.18 17.23 (125)
BRISBANE LIONS 1.1 3.2 4.2 6.2 (38)
North Melbourne: Thomas 4, Black 3, Harvey 2, Adams 2, Daw, Greenwood, Wright, Ziebell, Nahas, Goldstein
Brisbane Lions: Green 3, Close 2, Beams
North Melbourne: Harvey, Gibson, Thomas, Black, Dal Santo, Cunnington, Thompson
Brisbane Lions: Adcock, Aish, Green, Lester, Golby
North Melbourne: Nil
Brisbane Lions: Tom Rockliff (illness) replaced in the selected side Michael Close, Joel Patfull (illness) replaced in the selected side by Nick Robertson
North Melbourne: Andrew Swallow replaced by Ryan Bastinac at three-quarter time.
Brisbane Lions: Dayne Zorko replaced by Nick Robertson in the third quarter.
Umpires: Margetts, Mollison, O'Gorman
Official crowd: 21,152 at Etihad Stadium