NORTH Melbourne has broken through for its first win of the AFL season with a stirring comeback over fellow cellar dwellers Hawthorn in Launceston.
The last-placed Kangaroos came from 32 points down on Saturday afternoon to snap a losing streak stretching back to round nine last season.
HAWKS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Cameron Zurhaar was inspirational in the 13.9 (87) to 12.8 (80) victory, slotting four goals including crucial majors either side of three-quarter time.
Hawthorn's Luke Breust set up a thrilling finish when he reduced the margin to six points with a running goal inside the final two minutes.
But the Kangaroos held on to give David Noble his maiden win as an AFL coach on his 54th birthday.
Jy Simpkin topped the disposal count for the match with 38, while North Melbourne teammate Ben Cunnington was next best with 37.
After scoring the opening point of the match, it took until the beginning of the fourth quarter for North Melbourne to regain the lead.
The lead changed hands twice during the final term, with Tasmanian Tarryn Thomas notching a crucial major for the Kangaroos to open up an 11-point lead with seven minutes to play.
It was a remarkable turnaround after a red hot start by Hawthorn which was spearheaded by Chad Wingard, who kicked two majors from tight angles and had two goal assists in the opening quarter.
Hawthorn opened up a 33-7 point lead at quarter time and were ahead 54-32 at the main break.
The Kangaroos, who found themselves behind by 32 early in the second quarter, mounted a third-term surge, booting four goals to one.
They entered the final term just a point behind after a Zurhaar snap moments before the break.
Taylor Garner was another shining light for the Kangaroos, picking up three goals.
On a Wingard and a prayer
Chad Wingard was in scintillating form early, booting two goals from virtually the same tight angle in the opening quarter. His first goal was particularly glamorous, snapping truly on the run from the boundary line, but what happened next wasn’t as smooth. Wingard tripped over a boundary-side photographer during his celebrations, ending up sprawled on the grass. All’s well that ends well though, with Wingard and the photographer exchanging a handshake and a laugh before Wingard returned to the field. Wingard’s second goal came from the same spot, but thankfully the photographer was spared the second time around.
Not bad for celler-dwellers
While it took the Kangaroos a while to work into the game, their effort to shift the momentum when the going was tough is a promising sign. With the game on the line in the final half, key Kangaroos players dug in deep to wrest the ascendancy back from Hawthorn and take the game into their own hands. Ben Cunnington was especially prolific in the final term, providing great intensity and fight around the ball. He finished with 37 disposals – including 27 contested possessions – and 13 clearances. Three of Cameron Zurhaar’s four goals came in the final half, sparking the Roos’ fightback and helping claw back the margin.
Not-so happy team at Hawthorn
No team wanted the be the one to give North its first win of the season, but Hawthorn now have that honour. The Hawks had their chances, and will no doubt rue the missed opportunity to bank a precious win after coming out of the blocks hard, booting five goals in the opening quarter before being overrun. The Hawks have now lost three games straight, and have managed only two wins for the season.
HAWTHORN 5.3 8.6 9.8 12.8 (80)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 5.2 9.7 13.9 (87)
Hawthorn: Wingard 2, Koschitzke 2, Breust 2, Cousins 2, Lewis, Shiels, Moore, Scrimshaw
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 4, Garner 3, Taylor, Goldstein, Larkey, Mahony, Davies-Uniacke, Thomas
Hawthorn: Wingard, Scrimshaw, Shiels, Hardwick, Cousins
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin, Zurhaar, Goldstein
North Melbourne: Nil
Hawthorn: Daniel Howe (unused)
North Melbourne: Will Phillips (unused)
Crowd: TBC at UTAS Stadium