North Melbourne has fallen to a 14-point loss at the hands of the Sydney Swans on Saturday night.
The Roos got off to a slow start and were always playing catch-up, but showed promising signs, particularly in the second half.
In a nod to the Roos' exciting future ahead, 11 of North's 12 goals came from players 22 or under.
Young guns Luke Davies-Uniacke (24 disposals) and Jy Simpkin (22 touches) impressed, while the lively Cam Zurharr booted three goals and Aaron Hall (30 disposals) was busy off half-back.
The Swans' pressure was ferocious early and they reaped the reward, booting five goals to North's two in the opening quarter - though Nick Larkey goaled after the siren to cut the quarter-time deficit to 18 points.
Sydney kept the heat on in the second term and led by 31 points at the main break, with Jaidyn Stephenson's late major North's only goal for the quarter.
The Kangaroos - who have consistently fought out games this year - came out of half-time with renewed intensity and controlled much of the third term, booting four goals to two.
At the start of the final term, North youngster Eddie Ford booted a set shot then added another from a free kick to cut the deficit to 10 points - before Jed Anderson drew the Kangaroos within a goal.
But David Noble's side were unable to haul themselves in front and Hayward kicked back-to-back steadying goals to give the Swans some breathing room.
North's Aiden Bonar came off the ground late after a heavy knock, while Kennedy limped off in the final minute.
Kangaroos debutant Charlie Comben kicked his first goal after the siren.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 3.3 7.4 12.5 (77)
SYDNEY 5.2 8.4 10.8 13.13 (91)
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 3, Larkey 2, Ford 2, Stephenson, Taylor, Anderson, Thomas, Comben
Sydney: Hayward 3, Papley 2, Heeney, Wicks, Campbell, Parker, McLean, Dawson, Gulden, Florent
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Anderson, Hall, Davies-Uniacke, Zurhaar, Phillips
Sydney: Parker, Hayward, Hewett, Rowbottom, Cunningham, Kennedy, Hickey
North Melbourne: Bonar (TBC)
Sydney: Blakey (ankle), Kennedy (hamstring)
North Melbourne: Young (unused)
Sydney: O’Riordan (replaced Blakey)