Harrison Petty celebrates a goal during the R15 match between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG on June 22, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has clung on for dear life in the closing minutes to become the second team in two weeks to deny North Melbourne victory in nail-biting circumstances. 

Cam Zurhaar's fourth goal trimmed the margin to three points with four minutes remaining, but despite a scoreless last quarter, the Demons held firm – just – to secure a 11.4 (70) to 10.7 (67) win at the MCG on Saturday night.

DEMONS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats

Debutant Kynan Brown laid a crucial tackle on a charging Nick Larkey with 90 seconds remaining, while Harry Petty knocked a stray footy clear in the final seconds to sew up the game. 

This is a feisty young North Melbourne side, kicking six goals either side of the three-quarter time break to cut the margin, while the Demons didn't trouble the scorers.

The win pushes the Demons back up to eighth spot on the ladder, after losing four of five matches before the bye.


In an oddly niggly game with plenty of spotfires, a rare full-team brawl broke out at half-time as all the umpires sprinted out to circle the 36 players while the Auskickers watched on, slightly bemused, from the boundary.

The game had meandered along for nearly two quarters with the mass of seagulls arguably providing more entertainment at times, before Trent Rivers pounced.

Bursting through several North defenders at speed at half-forward, he sprinted through and kicked truly from 50. It was just the second goal of the second term, coming with four minutes remaining.


Melbourne looked as if it had built a healthy four-goal break off the back of its work late in the first term, maximising its forward-50 ball, but the Roos were stubborn, if inaccurate, refusing to lie down and chipping away.

North Melbourne did well to win the ball back, defending strongly across half-back, but cost itself by moving the ball too slowly once it was turned over, struggling to run with pace and dare and instead chipping it around and kicking down the line to a waiting Max Gawn or Steven May.


The Dees finally shook the Roos free late in the third term, the game opening up and the home side finding some rare fluidity with its ball movement. They didn't have a dominant key forward, but the sheer number of players who could find space in attack overwhelmed the young backline at times.

Eddie Ford was unlucky as the Dees' charge commenced, conceding a free kick for a dangerous tackle on May, who held his head while lying on the ground despite not appearing to have hit it on the turf.


The Roos dominated disposal, with Luke Davies-Uniacke, George Wardlaw and Harry Sheezel having plenty of say in the game, while Jack Viney was the king of the clearances.

Melbourne celebrated its 20th year of partnering with the Breast Cancer Network Australia with its annual Pink Lady match, a number of players from both teams donning pink boots, as well as beanies before the match.


Tagger Phillips drives Clarry up the wall
After going head-to-head with Nick Daicos last week, Will Phillips had another daunting task in the bullocking Clayton Oliver. While Phillips was never overly physical, he wore Oliver closely, with the Dee unable to burn off the Roo through running power, unlike Daicos last week. Oliver had two disposals in the first term and three in the second, giving away four free kicks to the main break. He finished with just 14 disposals.

Life without Trac
Melbourne is facing at least the rest of the home and away season without superstar Christian Petracca (internal injuries), and the match against North Melbourne was the first since his critical injury. Defender Trent Rivers spent considerable time around the footy, lining up in centre bounces with Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver and occasionally Tom Sparrow, while draftee Koltyn Tholstrup was the inclusion playing across half-forward in Petracca's place.

Koltyn Tholstrup celebrates a goal with Kysaiah Pickett during the R15 match between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG on June 22, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

North Melbourne and 50m penalties
The 50m penalty giveth and the 50m taketh away. A week after North Melbourne arguably lost its game to Collingwood on the back of a non-paid 50m penalty, it was the beneficiary of an apparent mis-paid penalty. With the margin at 27 points in the fourth term, Ford feigned a handball, drawing Caleb Windsor into moving on the mark. A pre-season rule tweak meant that should have been ignored due to the feint, but a penalty was paid, and Ford converted, kicking truly.

MELBOURNE                  5.2     6.4     11.4     11.4     (70)
NORTH MELBOURNE     1.2     3.7     5.7     10.7     (67)

Melbourne: Turner 2, Pickett, McDonald, Chandler, Petty, Rivers, Neal-Bullen, Sparrow, van Rooyen, Gawn
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 4, Sheezel 2, Ford 2, Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke

Melbourne: Viney, Rivers, Gawn, Sparrow, May
North Melbourne: Davies-Uniacke, Wardlaw, Sheezel, Zurhaar, Phillips

Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Nil

Melbourne: Kynan Brown (replaced Christian Salem in the fourth quarter)
North Melbourne: Dylan Stephens (replaced Toby Pink in the third quarter)

Crowd: 28,774 at the MCG