North Melbourne’s faltering season received a much-needed shot in the arm with an upset win over West Coast at Blundstone Arena on Sunday.
After playing off in a preliminary final last year, the Kangaroos have failed to live up to expectations this season and went into round 10 on the back of a loss to Collingwood that Brad Scott labelled “disgusting”.
Things got worse for the 12th-placed `Roos during the week when it was announced Scott would be absent for four matches after undergoing urgent back surgery.
With a slender six-point lead at three-quarter time and kicking into the teeth of a howling wind in the final term, North were staring down the barrel of a potentially disastrous sixth loss of the season before they dug deep to score a gutsy win that caretaker coach Darren Crocker hopes will kickstart their campaign.
“This is the start,” Crocker said.
“We really need to build momentum from this game and get the ball rolling. We spoke about the belief that comes from just putting the evidence out on the park. “Ninety-one tackles was super today … (so were) the effort in the contests and the ability to put the opposition under pressure.
“If we bring that every week we’re going to be really hard to beat. So they’ve got to take a lot of belief out of that and really get the ball rolling for our season.”
The Roos remain in 12th spot despite the win, but even their ledger at 5-5 and stay within reach of the the top eight with Richmond currently occupying eighth spot with just one more win.
North still have a tough road ahead of them, facing top-four sides Sydney and the Giants in the next fortnight before their bye, but there is renewed hope at Arden Street.
At the other end of the spectrum, Carlton were left to wonder what else could go wrong in their season of woe.
The Blues have been better in the two games since Mick Malthouse was sacked but still lost to Sydney and Adelaide.
But their heartbreaking nine-point loss to the Crows at the MCG on Saturday appears likely to be remembered as champion midfielder Chris Judd’s swansong.
The dual Brownlow medallist ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a marking contest with Adelaide star Patrick Dangerfield – an injury that appears to almost certainly have drawn the curtain on his decorated 279-game career.
Richmond kicked off the round with a stunning upset win over Fremantle in the west.
The unbeaten Dockers were gunning for a record 10th win in a row at Subiaco, but couldn’t peg back the lead the Tigers established with a blistering eight-goal opening term.
Richmond’s season was in dire straights just a month ago at 2-4, but Damien Hardwick’s side has rattled on four wins on the trot to come roaring back into contention.