Cody Weightman and Jackson Archer compete during the match between North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium in round 16, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

NORTH Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has warned umpires to be on guard for players milking free kicks after a pair of off-the-ball incidents involving Cody Weightman hurt the Kangaroos in their 17-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.

The Dogs' goalsneak kicked a game-high three majors and was at the centre of two contentious decisions by the whistleblowers.

KANGAROOS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats

The first occurred just before quarter time, when Weightman won a free kick paid against inexperienced defender Jackson Archer for holding, and duly converted from 30m out.

Weightman was also bundled over by Aidan Corr moments before three-quarter time, leading to a 50m penalty that gifted Adam Treloar a major from the goal square.

"It is frustrating but the umps are making decisions on what they think they see, so you've just got to abide by what transpires on the ground," Clarkson said.

"But when it's a close contest and goals are at a premium, they become quite costly.

"We need to work out with our own players, is the contact unnecessary?

"There's contact between players all the time and what the umps need to be really, really mindful of is how much free kicks are getting milked when they're so costly when they're in that part of the ground."


The defeat capped a disappointing 48 hours for North Melbourne, who lost Rising Star candidate George Wardlaw to concussion after a training mishap on Thursday.

Wardlaw sat out against the Bulldogs and will also miss next week's clash with Gold Coast under concussion protocols.

"I think he's OK. It's just so unfortunate," Clarkson said.

"To get better in footy, it's a combative game that we play, and every time the players run out for a training session they're at some sort of risk, given that they need to prepare well for the game.

"We initially thought he'd just hurt his shoulder but he just complained about a bit of dizziness from the contact and as soon as he goes into protocols it's an instant 12 days.

"It's really unfortunate that he'll miss (two games) but we've just got to roll with the punches with that."


Roos tagger Will Phillips did well for periods in limiting the damage of Adam Treloar, ruckman Tristan Xerri was damaging with 34 hitouts and five clearances, while Harry Sheezel (27 disposals) and Darcy Tucker (30) were busy.

While there were plenty of positives to take out of the game, Clarkson said they were simply "beaten by a better side."

"If we had have somehow got ourselves back to being close, it would've been a travesty," he said.

"They were able to win that (midfield) battle and gave themselves the better chance to have territory in their front half, and it was always going to be hard if we couldn't win that battle.

"We hung in there and tried our best to get ourselves back into the contest but they managed to have that ascendancy right across the game.

"Probably the pleasing part for us was at three-quarter time it could have very easily slipped away to be a five, six, eight-goal loss, but we were able to pull it back and put some respectability on the scoreboard and just lose by the 17 points."


Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has flagged Rory Lobb as a solution to his injury woes in defence after the ruck-forward's strong form behind the ball in the win.

But Beveridge lamented a raft of skill errors in the unconvincing victory, feeling his players had let themselves down despite dominating the territory battle.

Captain Marcus Bontempelli was a shining light, shrugging off a back complaint to collect 35 disposals and 11 clearances, while the Lobb experiment was hailed as a success.

Out of favour for periods this season, Lobb had been the subject of trade speculation amid reports he was eyeing a move to a fourth club.

With the return of tall forwards Aaron Naughton (knee) and Sam Darcy (suspension) against the Kangaroos, the former Docker and Giant's place in the side had been brought into question once again.

But Beveridge sprung a surprise when the 206cm Lobb lined up at full-back in the ongoing absence of regular defenders Alex Keath (hamstring) and Ryan Gardner (wrist).

Rory Lobb marks the ball during the match between North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium in round 16, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Lobb had game-high tallies of five intercept marks and a 12 intercept possessions alongside fellow tall backs Liam Jones and James O'Donnell.

"He was very good. We're really happy with that outcome and how well Rory played," Beveridge said.

"He was pretty composed when he had the ball for most of the night, so that’s a win for us.

"He's too good a player to miss out week to week. Depending on the make-up of opposition forward lines, we want to have that complexion of that back-end looking like a group that can not only defend but move the footy as well, and Rory can do both.

"He was excited by the prospect (of playing defence) and his confidence will get a real boost from this game this afternoon."


The win gives the Bulldogs' a positive 8-7 record in the hunt for a finals berth, ahead of a difficult away clash with Port Adelaide in round 17.

"We're in the mix but the thing is, we've won eight (games) but we've lost seven so we should be on edge every week," Beveridge said.

"As much as we will enjoy the opportunity and the challenge, we've got to make sure we make hay every week so we've got some really exciting challenges coming up."