NORTH Melbourne have kept their finals hopes well and truly alive with an upset 40-point win over West Coast in Hobart on Sunday afternoon.
The dogged Kangaroos ran away with it in the second half in the 12.9.81 to 6.5.41 victory against an Eagles side missing Josh Kennedy (injury) and Luke Shuey (personal reasons).
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North Melbourne doubled West Coast's inside 50s – 38 to 16 during a scrappy first half but managed only a three-point lead at half-time.
They pulled away in the all-important third quarter though, booting four straight goals to lead 61-38 heading into the final term.
West Coast couldn't respond, with its sole second-half goal coming from Elliot Yeo at the start of the third quarter.
The Kangaroos' Ben Cunnington was one of the best on ground with a game-high 39 touches and a crucial major midway through the third term.
First-year midfielder Paul Ahern was also outstanding for North, with 37 disposals, 12 clearances and five inside 50s.
Coach Brad Scott was strictly business after the match.
"We're aware of the importance of ladder positions, but the true test for professionals in any sport is to be able to focus on what's in front of you and being able to follow a system and process to achieve the outcome," he said.
"We'll let everyone else focus on prognostications and those kinds of things and we'll just focus on what we need to do."
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Jack Ziebell, Mason Wood and Shaun Higgins kicked two each for the Roos, as did the Eagles' Willie Rioli, with his highlight a low skidding goal in the opening quarter.
Skipper Shannon Hurn was best for West Coast, with Elliot Yeo also prominent with 28 disposals, 11 tackles and seven inside 50s.
The Eagles were looking for four straight wins and a top-two berth to secure a home qualifying final, and now they return home to play Fremantle next round.
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Disappointed West Coast coach Adam Simpson feared that spearhead Josh Kennedy, who withdrew from the side on Saturday with general soreness, won't be fit for next weeks' Western Derby.
He also bemoaned that the Kangaroos "were just too strong for us".
"Every game is an opportunity. Every loss is a lost opportunity," he said. "We're all playing for a fair bit at the moment, so that was disappointing.
"(But) what's at stake, every week, it feels the same going into every week, every game."
North Melbourne, whose remaining four games are against sides below them on the ladder, are a win outside the top eight, but with a strong percentage.
North Melbourne: Jed Anderson passed a concussion test to play out the game and the Kangaroos came through otherwise unscathed. Coach Brad Scott indicated veteran forward Jarrad Waite was nearing an imminent return for the Roos and could even have faced the Eagles.
West Coast: The Eagles escaped serious injuries on the day, but Simpson was less than optimistic about key forward Josh Kennedy's chances of returning to the Eagles' line-up next week after being a late withdrawal against the Roos due to general soreness.
The Kangaroos travel to Brisbane for a Saturday afternoon date with the Lions while West Coast return to Perth for a Sunday afternoon derby clash with Fremantle they'll be desperate to win.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.4 5.4 9.7 12.9 (81)
WEST COAST 2.0 5.1 6.2 6.5 (41)
North Melbourne: Ziebell 2, Wood 2, Higgins 2, Simpkin, Goldstein, Brown, Cunnington, Hrovat, Anderson
West Coast: Rioli 2, LeCras, Cripps, Vardy, Yeo
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Ahern, Goldstein, Daw, Simpkin, Tarrant
West Coast: Hurn, Yeo, Cripps, Hutchings, McGovern
North Melbourne: Nil
West Coast: Nil
Umpires: Rosebury, Nicholls, Mitchell
Official crowd: 11,176 at Blundstone Arena