North await AFL word on incident

North Melbourne will leave judgment to others and eagerly wait for the AFL’s explanation after the controversial start to their Port Adelaide loss.

In the opening minute of the Saturday twilight match at Etihad Stadium, North defender Michael Firrito found himself under intense pressure.

He handballed through a rushed behind, only for umpire Justin Schmitt to pay a free kick against him.

Jay Schulz kicked the easiest of goals to give Port an ideal start.

Less than a month after North coach Brad Scott was fined $30,000 for unloading on the umpires, he smiled when asked about the Firrito free.

“That’s my answer,” he said of his grin.

“We won’t be seeking clarification, I’m sure there will be enough comment on it.”

But Scott added North would definitely be interested in the washup from the incident.

“Whatever the AFL says in response to the questions that everyone will ask, we’ve got to take note of it because we don’t want to be giving away free kicks like that again,” he said.

That and Port’s second goal moments later, when North lost a defensive ruck duel and the ball landed in Chad Wingard’s lap, set the scene for another North loss.

Port blitzed North with 6.3 to five behinds in the first quarter as Kangaroos star Todd Goldstein struggled against part-time ruckman Jackson Trengove.

Goldstein has struggled for form since a knee injury in round 10, but Scott said the ruckman would not want any excuses.

“He’d be really frustrated if he thought that anyone was giving him an excuse or alibi for poor performance,” Scott said.

“He’s a really proud footballer … so he’d be disappointed.

“My job as coach is to help him.”

North have now lost six of their last seven games and are a long way removed from the team that started the season with nine-straight wins.

Scott held his post-game media conference in the unusual setting of the club’s Shinboners coterie club.

He used the occasion to make a call to arms.

“Anyone can do it when you’re 9-0 and cruising – now’s the time we have to stand up and right the ship, get back on course,” he said.

“I still have great faith and confidence in us as a football club.”

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