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The Demons will travel to Hobart this weekend for their Round 21 contest against the Kangaroos, hunting a fifth consecutive AFL win.

If Melbourne (13-6, 124.3%) secures a heavy victory on Sunday afternoon, they’re a strong chance of finishing the round at second on the AFL ladder.

Meanwhile, North Melbourne (2-17, 67.6%) welcomes the return of head coach Alastair Clarkson, who has taken a mental health break since May.

“We know we’re still nowhere near good enough to compete with the really strong clubs in the competition, that will come with time,” Clarkson told reporters earlier this week.

“We’re seeing some progress being made.”

The match gets underway at Blundstone Arena at 1.10pm AEST. Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504).

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Alastair Clarkson, North Melbourne coach. Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


There were no late changes for either side, and it was North Melbourne doing all the attacking early.

But a Max Gawn fingernail denied a goal, and a wayward Roos’ radar ensured they couldn’t break through. And down the other end, it took a moment of Kysaiah Pickett magic to get Melbourne on the board first.

“That is one of the great goals,” commentator Gerard Healy said.

“It defies logic,” David King added.

But when Steven May missed Jake Bowey from the kick-out, big Todd Goldstein pounced.

And big two goals to Eddie Ford ensured it was North Melbourne leading by 15 points midway through the first term.

When Trent Rivers and the Demons couldn’t clear their defensive half, Luke Davies-Uniacke hit up Bailey Scott and suddenly Melbourne had problems.

“They are off here the Demons,” King said.

“Going at only 40 percent by foot.

“You’re not going to win games of AFL footy with that sort of ball use… and North Melbourne are making them pay.

“You’ve got to cash in while you’ve got momentum.”

Ford added his third for the term and when Christian Petracca couldn’t convert from the pocket, it was the Roos who took a 35-9 lead into the first change.

Nick Larkey extended North’s margin early in the second as the Demons just looked out of sorts.

Pickett kept Melbourne within striking distance when he crumbed off Harrison Petty in the square.

And it was Pickett to Petty for the next goal as the Dees closed within 21 points.

“As ugly as it is, that’s absolutely beautiful for Simon Goodwin,” King said.

“The Kangaroos have just dropped a gear and Melbourne have made them pay,” Healy added.

When Larkey made a controversial spoil in the square, Paul Curtis pounced to soccer the ball through.

But down the other end, Roo Darcy Tucker had a mare when he appeared unsure if he could rush the ball through – and Alex Neal-Bullen took full advantage.

Kade Chandler brought Melbourne within 16 points when he slotted his first for the day from a set shot and it was North with all the pressure on them.

“The Dees are charging,” King said.

But all of Melbourne’s good work came unstuck when Petty coughed up a “silly” 50m penalty for a “love tap” on Todd Goldstein.

Just as North looked to steady, Pickett again produced the goods for his side when opponent Jack Ziebell went to ground on the slippery Tassie surface.

The Dees dodged a bullet when Jaidyn Stephenson opted against dishing the hands and went for the shot on the run himself – only to have the footy smothered.

And on the rebound, it took seconds to get the ball in Jacob van Rooyen’s hands – and he converted after the siren.

At half time, North Melbourne’s lead was cut to just four points 56-52.

“That is so deflating for the Kangaroos,” commentator Anthony Hudson said.

“The last few minutes have been disappointing (for North),” Healy added.

 The Roos had a tough start to the third as they struggled to clear their back half.

May racked up intercepts but Melbourne couldn’t find the goal to put them in front, despite a 6-0 inside 50 count for the third.

Tempers threatened to boil over between Jy Simpkin and Angus Brayshaw as the Roos continued to struggle to find an avenue forward.

A remarkable stat from the first 10 minutes of the term, the territory battle showed the ball spent 99% of time in their front half, compared to North’s 1%.

Petty finally got the goal Melbourne had been pushing for as North appeared without energy.

But when Petty limped off after a big Ben McKay tackle, there were concerns for how Melbourne’s forward line would function as he was ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Dees needed not worry as first Christian Petracca flew high and converted and then Neal-Bullen found a goal off just two steps under pressure.

“If you’re a Melbourne fan, you’re excited by this,” King said.

“It’s brutal and it’s beautiful.

“18 inside 50s and they’ve kicked seven goals.”

Simpkin ended Melbourne’s run of seven-straight goals, but again van Rooyen was able to deflate any North hopes.

“Melbourne are just wanting it more,” Healy lamented.

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