IT WAS the moment Brad Scott trained his battle-weary Kangaroos for, hoping they would rise to the occasion after five doses of heartbreak last year.

A fantastic build-up still required a brilliant Ben Brown toe poke to create Jack Ziebell's goal-square match-winner that sealed North Melbourne's two-point triumph over the Bulldogs on Saturday night.

Ziebell's third goal with 20 seconds on the clock completed his rags-to-riches rise on the night, after a dirty first half where he manufactured a meagre four touches of the Sherrin.

ROOS SNATCH DOGS' BONE Full match coverage and stats

Scott was left post-match lauding his players' natural embrace for the big moment following five defeats inside a goal last year, including two to the Western Bulldogs.

Ziebell and Brown were two of them, as were ex-Bulldog Shaun Higgins, midfield bulldozer Ben Cunnington – and even the much-maligned Majak Daw.

"A lot more effort (goes into those plays) than the time it takes for the play to unfold, that's for sure," the coach said afterwards.

"We had, by the nature of some close losses last year, plenty of time to go back and analyse those losses and analyse what we could have done better defensively.

"On the flipside, if we're in this position where we're behind with less than a minute to go, what do we want to do and what are the priorities?

HEROES APLENTY IN BELTER Five talking points

"But you can train that all you like – you still need to be able to execute it and we certainly don't train Ben Brown toe pokes and those sorts of things.

"The good players throughout history love the big moments and we had a couple of players today that, in the big moments, they stood up."

Higgins was slightly down on his usual output to half-time, when the Bulldogs led by 18 points, but amassed 22 possessions, six clearances and two goals in the final two quarters alone.

The Roos' reigning club champion continues to look like an All Australian midfielder this season.

WATCH Brad Scott's full post-match media conference

"He was outstanding. He gets tagged, he gets buffeted, he gets a lot of attention and just fights his way through it consistently," Scott said.

"He's certainly a premier midfielder in the competition, in my view. He's had a fantastic 2018 and was a big part of the difference tonight.

"He's grown as a person. I've said on a number of occasions he's a consummate professional – as good as I've seen – and he's as important off the field to us as he is on."

Scott also reserved rich praise for unheralded duo Daw and Kayne Turner, who shut down Hayden Crozier after the Bulldogs defender's 23-disposal opening half.

North needed others to step up with in-form stopper Ben Jacobs a late out because of bizarre concussion symptoms and his replacement Billy Hartung suffering a left hamstring injury.

Jacobs presented with delayed concussion at training during the week, but neither the Roos nor the midfielder know what the original cause was.

WATCH Higgins influential in Roos' thriller

As for the importance of this come-from-behind victory, Scott was similarly in the dark.

"I can't say right now where it sits, but there are always games you look back on throughout the year and think, 'Well, gee, we weren't super in that particular game, but we just found a way to win'," he said.

"The Dogs were really good and they really challenged us.

"It's probably a good lead-in to next week's game (against Essendon), because they really move the ball quickly and look to challenge us off half-back."