Tom Powell and Callum Coleman-Jones have put their hands up for senior recalls through the VFL, acting as North Melbourne's shining lights in Round 5's 44-point loss to Frankston.
A rough first quarter in which the Kangaroos conceded six goals to one put the writing on the wall for the young side, however the team fought back to keep the game on a relatively even keel for the remainder of the clash.
Development coach Tom Lynch took charge of the side for the game due to regular VFL senior coach Leigh Adams travelling to Hobart with the senior side.
Stand-in coach Lynch says there are plenty of positives to be taken from the clash.
"Half the battle is being able to feel the game and knowing you're capable of playing the game on your terms. We just have to do it for longer, be harder for longer and stick to the plan," Lynch told North Media.
"The first quarter was really disappointing, we certainly felt like the boys were ready to go but we just invited pressure onto ourselves. We overused the ball by hand and we weren't able to adjust to the slippery conditions.
"As a coaching group we were pleased with how the boys cracked into especially the second and third quarters and how we played the game on our terms in our front half. It's just a matter of being able to do that more regularly and consistently.
"It's not frustrating to see it in patches, if anything it's pleasing to see the players are capable of doing that. Even with the disappointing first quarter it was good to see us bounce back for the rest of the game and show our brand in stages."
A pair of midfield young guns gained some much needed match fitness against the Dolphins, with Powell and Will Phillips both putting in impressive displays in the middle of the ground.
Powell missed the Round 4 AFL clash with Sydney through injury and was named as the medical substitute for Round 5 against the Western Bulldogs. Sunday's clash was his first full game of football in a number of weeks, while Phillips continues his return from glandular fever.
Powell finished with 29 disposals, eight tackles and nine clearances, while Phillips finished with 17 disposals and six tackles.
"It was great to see Tom play today, and play really well. He was certainly one of the key catalysts in helping the side play well in the second and third quarters and he really helped steer us back into the contest." Lynch said.
"Will upped his game time this week, I think it was around 75-80 per cent. He really worked himself into the game as it progressed.
"He's only going to get better as the weeks go by and he's able to get the continuity in his football. It's great that he got through another game unscathed and was also really important for us when we needed him to be."
Coleman-Jones has continued to bang the door down for his first senior appearance since Round 1. He was a dominant force in the ruck and finished with a game-high 37 hitouts.
It wasn't just his ruck work that impressed though. Coleman-Jones' willingness to get stuck into the contest and win his own ball was one of the most consistently strong aspect of the Kangaroos' game. He finished the clash with eight clearances and seven tackles.
"'CJ' was terrific again tonight. He really provided us first use of the ball for our mids and was a really strong option for us all over the ground," Lynch said.
"He's been great for us this season and is certainly keeping the pressure on the guys in the senior side. He's been in terrific form and he continued that tonight."
Although he started the game in style with a big mark and nicely taken goal, a lack of service and a close eye from defenders saw Charlie Comben fail to repeat his match-winning performance from Round 4 against Footscray.
Often finding himself up against two Frankston defenders in any contest, Comben was still effective at bringing the ball to ground for those around him and remained engaged, competitive and involved throughout the contest.
"Charlie's a really competitive young man who's working really hard on his craft. His competitiveness ahead of the ball is something I haven't seen in a lot of young players," Lynch said.
"He's going to be really exciting for North Melbourne fans in the future and each week he keeps building into his game and he's going to be one that if he can stick to the plan and keep playing the way he is he can really contribute at the senior level in time."
North's AFL-listed trio of young defenders in Josh Goater, Jackson Archer and Miller Bergman continued their development against the Dolphins and were forced to display the more contested, battle-hardened sides of their games in recent weeks.
It was Archer in particular who impressed with his contested play as he finished with five tackles and one of the plays of the game in the form of a strong intercept mark in the third quarter.
"It was also really good to see some of our young defenders in Miller Bergman, Josh Goater and Jackson Archer play really well down there tonight along with a number of other guys. To see these kids continue to improve down there especially under some heavy Frankston pressure was a real highlight," Lynch said.
"It was really good to see those three play really well down there tonight. They were under some pretty heavy pressure from the opposition and they managed themselves well.
"To see those kids continue to improve down there has been a real highlight of the season so far."
Like father, like son.— #VFL / #VFLW (@VFL) April 24, 2022
Jackson Archer is fearless and courageous and looks like he'll give @NorthVFL fans plenty to smile about in the years to come. 💙
Watch the #VFL: https://t.co/dBCbjKhgzz pic.twitter.com/tjWFaSRTOp
Youseph Dib played his best game in North Melbourne colours so far this season and finished with 14 disposals and a goal, while Jack Watkins continued his strong form with 21 disposals and two goals.
FRANKSTON DOLPHINS 6.5 7.7 11.11 15.14 (104)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 4.4 6.7 8.12 (60)
Jackson Archer: Eight disposals, two marks, five tackles
Miller Bergman: Five disposals, two tackles, two clearances
Aiden Bonar: 13 disposals, three marks, four tackles
Callum Coleman-Jones: 24 disposals, 37 hitouts, 5 marks, seven tackles, eight clearances
Charlie Comben: Seven disposals, one goal, three marks, three tackles
Jacob Edwards: Six disposals, 11 hitouts, two tackles, two clearances
Josh Goater: 17 disposals, two marks, one tackle, one clearances
Kyron Hayden: Eight disposals, two tackles
Charlie Lazzaro: 20 disposals, five tackles, five clearances
Matt McGuinness: 16 disposals, three marks, two tackles
Will Phillips: 17 disposals, six tackles, two clearances
Tom Powell: 29 disposals, eight tackles, nine clearances
Pat Walker: 16 disposals, one goal, five marks
Best of VFL-listed
Youseph Dib: 14 disposals, one goal, five tackles
Harry Jones: 22 disposals, four tackles, four clearances
Dom Tyson: 20 disposals, eight tackles, seven clearances
Jack Watkins: 21 disposals, two goals, three clearances