North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was proud of his group, which secured its first win since the final round of last season after a period of hard work that had not been rewarded until Saturday. 

The Kangaroos won the clearances (48-30), tackles (84-62) and contested possessions (152-137) against West Coast in a fierce performance that was made possible by an excellent midfield group.  

"I thought over the course of the game the better side ended up winning the game, which was really pleasing," Clarkson said.

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"It was full of heart and spirit, and a lot of the stats that we're searching for around pressure and our contested ball and our clearances were really good over the course of the day.

"We're really pleased with the manner in which we went about it today, and if we continue to play like that, we'll give ourselves a chance to be in games. 

"That's what's been lacking in our side to be competitive long enough in games, and today we were able to able to do it for longer and it gave us a chance to win the game."

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Clarkson paid tribute to Simpkin, who led from the front after returning from a quad strain and kicked a 50m set shot goal at the start of the fourth quarter as well as the controversial major that resulted from his tackle on Yeo. 

"If you go to early in the game, his first three or four contests actually really set the scene for our whole side," Clarkson said. 

"Having him back in, he's missed three or four games, and when you're a side developing and you're trying to get a little bit of momentum and continuity in your side, having your skipper out of your side is a real blow.

"But I thought his return to the side today was really important for us."

The coach also highlighted ruckman Tristan Xerri's chasedown of West Coast forward Liam Ryan in the second half as a moment that lifted his team. 

"That just showed our never-give-in attitude today, which was really important for us," he said. 

"I imagine he's a pretty hard bloke to chase down and our players responded to that effort."

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