North Melbourne has lost its third straight game after going down to Footscray by 66 points at ETU Stadium.
The Kangaroos made a bright start by kicking three of the first four goals on Saturday afternoon, but following the quarter-time break Footscray dictated terms.
The home side went on a tear after Sam Lowson kicked his third a minute into the second term, booting the next 12 majors unanswered to setup its 18.13 (121) to 8.7 (55) victory.
"It was a disappointing output from the guys after, again, a really fast start," VFL coach Tom Lynch told NMFC Media.
"We hit the scoreboard early and got ourselves a nice lead but from halfway through the second quarter our ability to swing back momentum and stay in the fight was disappointing.
"A lot of credit has to go to Footscray, but it certainly wasn’t one of our better days for the season."
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It was Lowson who was the energiser in the opening period for North Melbourne, with the dangerous forward slotting two set shots to hand his side an early advantage.
His second stemmed from a tremendous goal-saving tackle by key defender Kallan Dawson (18 disposals, 11 marks) down the other end, while Ben Davis (16, five) was also busy rebounding prolifically out of the backline.
Continually forcing the Bulldogs down the line, the Roos were able to defend well aerially which they then turned into some quick chains in transition through the corridor, mostly led by Tom Powell.
A fast-reacting Dan Howe put North Melbourne in a strong position after he forced a turnover inside attacking 50, received a clever tap forward from Lowson and converted, but that's where the positives largely dried up for the visitors.
The Dogs hit back and thanks to some late second quarter goals through Oskar Baker, Charlie Macissac and Buku Khamis, were able to head into the main change 10 points up.
It was all Footscray from then onwards, with the home outfit notching 18 inside 50s to seven in the third quarter to kick 7.4 while holding Lynch's group scoreless.
"We had a number of chances where we could have wrestled back that ascendancy and gotten the game on our terms but fundamental errors and where we turned the ball over really hurt us going back the other way," he mentioned.
"We were unable to defend off those turnovers and it fuelled their (Footscray's) confidence and their scoring that's for sure."
Individually, Howe fought hard in midfield and finished with 25 disposals, eight tackles and four goals, including three in the final term
"As a senior player it's important for those guys to play well," Lynch said.
"He was able to hit the scoreboard, which was pleasing, but we just didn't have even contributors throughout the day."
Hugh Greenwood was combative at the contest with 12 tackles and nine clearances from his 24 touches, while Lachie Young picked up 24 as well to go along with four clearances.
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Injuries to Nick Hodgson and Louis Butler saw the Roos lose two rotations heading into the second half, with Powell also failing to return after leaving the field in the third term.
"'Hodgy' has got a significant ankle injury and he's already been sent off for X-rays, so fingers crossed for him that its not too bad but his season's in a bit of doubt now," Lynch said.
"We suspect that Louis has done his hamstring so he's going to have to spend some time on the sidelines.
"'Powelly' is still being troubled by his left leg ... he's got some soreness in his ITB that we'll have to work out.
"We were down to a limit on the bench but that's footy and we had to fight it out but we certainly ran out of legs."
North Melbourne has its final bye of the year next week and will head to Richmond to challenge the Tigers in Round 22 to close out the home and away season.
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FOOTSCRAY BULLDOGS 2.2 7.4 14.8 18.13 (121)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.4 5.6 5.6 8.7 (55)
Footscray: Macissac 3, Lewis 3, Khamis 2, Raak 2, McComb 2, McLean, Hannan, Sullivan, Baker, Clarke, Sweet
North Melbourne: Howe 4, Lowson 3, Sellers
North Melbourne: TBC
North Melbourne: Hodgson (ankle), Powell (ITB), Butler (hamstring)