Christian Petracca celebrates a goal during round 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has turned on the jets after a slow start to register a 32-point win over North Melbourne, giving Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson a less-than-ideal welcome back to the top job.

The high-flying Demons trailed by 33 points early in the second quarter to second-bottom North Melbourne before running out 15.13 (103) to 10.11 (71) victors at Blundstone Arena on Sunday.

But they have a nervous wait determining the severity of an ankle injury to Harrison Petty, who left the field in the third quarter and didn't return.

KANGAROOS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Petty had earlier kicked two goals on the back of a six-goal haul against Richmond last round.

Melbourne's Kysaiah Pickett provided a spark, kicking three goals including a miraculous left-foot effort from the left boundary line, and a fleet-footed snap.


Pickett picked up two goal assists, while teammates Alex Neal-Bullen and Kade Chandler also slotted three goals.

The win was Melbourne's fifth in a row and its largest comeback win of the year, with three regular-season fixtures remaining before the finals.

The Demons moved to second on the ladder, but could shift down to third if Brisbane beat Fremantle on Sunday afternoon.


Melbourne put on seven straight goals either side of halftime to take the lead after trailing 35-9 at the first break.

It was the 18th defeat in a row for the Kangaroos, the club's worst losing streak since 1935.

North Melbourne's Eddie Ford kicked a team-high three majors - all in the first quarter - to give Clarkson something to smile about in his 400th game as an AFL coach.

Retiring Kangaroos veteran Jack Ziebell, who hadn't featured in the AFL since round eight, notched a team-high 32 disposals.

Eddie everywhere early
While very few would have had an early Kangaroos goal-fest on their bingo cards, even fewer would have predicted three of those goals to come from 21-year-old Eddie Ford. After Todd Goldstein got the Roos their first of the day, Ford kicked into gear, kicking three of the next four goals to shepherd the Roos to a 26-point lead at the first break. His influence waned as the game wore on and Melbourne wrestled back control, but it was an exciting display from a young player against a fearsome opponent.


Petty injury sours Dee's party
After kicking three goals to help the Demons claw back the lead, Harrison Petty was subbed out of the game after getting his left ankle caught in a tackle during the third quarter. He was subsequently subbed out of the match, and watched the remainder of the game from the bench with a moonboot on. Fresh off a six-goal haul last week, Petty has been an important cog in the Melbourne machine and the Dees will be hoping the damage is minimal as finals loom.


Dees spoil Clarkson's return
Twelve rounds after taking a step back from the top job, Alastair Clarkson returned to the coaching helm against Melbourne. The 32-point loss wasn't quite the welcome back he'd have hoped for, but the Roos' strong first-quarter effort showed there are plenty of green shoots.

NORTH MELBOURNE       5.5     8.8     9.9     10.11  (71)
MELBOURNE                   1.3      8.4    14.7    15.13  (103)

North Melbourne: Ford 3, Goldstein 2, Scott, Larkey, Curtis, Simpkin, Taylor
Melbourne: Pickett 3, Neal-Bullen 3, Chandler 3, Petty 2, Petracca 2, Van Rooyen 2

North Melbourne: Ziebell, Ford, Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke
Melbourne: Pickett, Petracca, Brayshaw, Hunter 

North Melbourne: None
Melbourne: Petty (ankle)

North Melbourne: Charlie Lazzarro (replaced Robert Hansen jnr in the third quarter)
Melbourne: Michael Hibberd (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter)

Crowd: 8,034 at Blundstone Arena