Footy greats David King and Jason Dunstall have roasted North Melbourne over their glaring final-quarter collapse against Adelaide.
The rebuilding Kangaroos showed promise over the first three terms, applying fierce defensive pressure, running hard both ways and salvaging goals in reward. David Noble’s men even kicked three consecutive majors, two through Tarryn Thomas and one through Jaidyn Stephenson, en route to taking a four-point lead into three-quarter time.
But North Melbourne then conceded eight goals in the last quarter for the gain of just one as they plummeted to a 41-point defeat at Marvel Stadium.
The Kangaroos’ first win of the season had appeared to be a genuine chance, but their capitulation saw them crash to their fourth loss in a row to open their 2021 campaign.
Former North Melbourne star David King, who won premierships with the Kangaroos in 1996 and 1999, slammed his former club as young Crow Harry Schoenberg lined up for a set shot in the dying seconds of the match.
“We’ve been glowing of the Kangaroos through the middle part of the game when they were fighting the fight, numbers against them – all those sorts of things. But in this last quarter they’ll end up conceding eight goals,” King said on Fox Footy’s coverage.
“This was nowhere near the dominance of the Western Bulldogs (who thrashed North Melbourne by 128 points last week).
“Players have turned their toes up here. It’s as simple as that.”
Former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott suggested to the board late in his reign between 2010 and 2019 that the club should enter rebuild mode, but his plan was rejected.
The Kangaroos then took that path at the end of last season, in which they won just three games and finished second-last on the ladder.
Star forward Ben Brown and gun midfielder Shaun Higgins departed North Melbourne at the end of the season and the club swept up two youngsters in the top 20 of the national draft, one of which they secured with pick three.
Their overdue rebuild was underway.
Late in the ugly fourth term against Adelaide, as cameras panned to Noble in his box, Legendary Hawthorn forward Dunstall said North Melbourne had been whacked with a reality check.
“It’s disappointing for that man there, David Noble, and it’s a pretty harsh lesson for the Kangaroos … There’s a clear lesson for North Melbourne here,” Dunstall said.
“For three quarters they brought the effort that kept them in the contest. As soon as that drops off – yeah, maybe you’re a little undermanned. That’s okay. But sometimes you’ve got to fight and overcome these sort of obstacles. As soon as your effort drops off this is what happens.”
The winless Kangaroos are anchored to the bottom of the ladder and are now set to face premiership heavyweights Geelong next Sunday.