NORTH Melbourne has taken a huge stride towards securing a finals berth and a home final after overcoming a gallant Western Bulldogs outfit by 50 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Bursts of four unanswered goals at the start of the first and third terms proved decisive in an otherwise patchy North performance, as the Roos ran out 17.9 (111) to 8.13 (61) winners.

The Kangas' 12th win lifted them a match clear in sixth spot on the ladder and two games and percentage clear of their next opponent, eighth-placed Adelaide, with two rounds to play.

The Bulldogs remain 13th with a 7-13 season record, with no wins from nine games against current top eight sides.

Although there remains fine-tuning ahead for North coach Brad Scott before finals, there were many positives – not least the continued emergence of tall forward Ben Brown (two goals) and Daniel Wells' successful comeback.

Wells was rotated heavily through the bench in his first game since round five, but quickly picked up the tempo after just a half in the VFL last weekend.

"He probably exceeded my expectations in his ability to run out the game," Scott said.

"What really encouraged us was his efforts in the midfield in the last quarter. 

"He had every reason to be tired and fatigued but he actually got us going in the midfield, so it's great to have him back."

North skipper Andrew Swallow, Sam Gibson, Ryan Bastinac and defender Scott Thompson were prolific, while Drew Petrie, Brown and Aaron Black each booted two majors.

Marcus Bontempelli (two goals) boosted his NAB AFL Rising Star claims with another assured performance, while Dogs skipper Ryan Griffen never stopped trying in his 200th game.

The Dogs trailed from the two-minute mark and only had themselves to blame for having to play catch-up.

McCartney's men barely gave a yelp before quarter-time as the Roos skipped to a 26-point lead.

North's fleet of classy ball-users got off the leash, including perennial Dogs tormenter Brent Harvey who had 11 touches, as the Roos' forwards revelled in the space inside 50.

The Roos threatened to blow the game wide-open when Levi Greenwood booted their sixth to kick-off the second term.

David Swallow tries to get a handball under pressure from Tom Liberatore. Picture: AFL Media

But star players build their reputations on impacting matches and Bontempelli rose to the challenge.

The first-year Dog booted two goals for the term from 11 possessions, sparking his side's charge to within eight points on the cusp of half-time.

While the Bulldogs dominated the term with 10 scoring shots to three, they wasted the momentum by kicking 4.6 to 3.0.

Late goals for Nick Dal Santo and Drew Petrie deep in time-on would have infuriated coach Brendan McCartney, especially Petrie's from a needless free-kick off the ball that gave the Roos some breathing space with a 14-point half-time lead.

The incident sparked a melee, with some players likely to have lighter wallets come Monday.

To its credit, North snuffed out the Dogs' challenge with four unanswered goals to start the third term, extending its lead from 14 points to 38 points inside 15 minutes.

The Bulldogs refused to go away, but never looked like overhauling the finals-bound Roos, who blew the margin out with a five-goal to one final term.

"There were three or four times when we got off the canvas a bit didn’t we, and just ground our way back into the game," coach Brendan McCartney said.

"It was a hard day’s work today. We had to conjure up a lot of different ways of staying in the game. but to their credit we did fight our way back, apart from the last 15 minutes which was pretty disappointing." 

NORTH MELBOURNE  5.2   8.2   12.5   17.9 (111)
WESTERN BULLDOGS  1.0   5.6   7.11    8.13 (61)
North Melbourne: Cunnington 4, Black 2, Petrie 2, Brown 2, Thomas, Bastinac, Greenwood, Dal Santo, Gibson, Harvey, Goldstein
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, Crameri 2, Boyd, Stevens, Dahlhaus, Cooney
North Melbourne: Swallow, Gibson, Harvey, Thompson, Grima, Cunnington
Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Bontempelli, Cooney, Higgins, Murphy 
North Melbourne: Lindsay Thomas (left knee), Jack Ziebell (right knee)
Western Bulldogs: Jack Macrae (soreness) replaced in selected side by Jarrad Grant, Shaun Higgins (head)
North Melbourne: Leigh Adams replaced Jack Ziebell in the final term
Western Bulldogs: Daniel Giansiracusa replaced Will Minson in the final term
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Stephens, Chamberlain, Kamolins
Official crowd: 27,164 at Etihad Stadium