Rhyce Shaw was baffled but diplomatic when asked about the crucial free kick paid against North Melbourne defender Scott Thompson in the dying stages of Saturday night's loss to Brisbane.

With scores level and just over a minute remaining, Thompson took what appeared a match-saving mark 20m from goal, only to be whistled for a push-out of Lions ruckman Oscar McInerney.

McInerney kicked the goal to give his team a lead it would not relinquish.

Replays showed Thompson could have nudged McInerney in the side.

"That's certainly a difficult one," Shaw said.

"It's interesting that he marked the ball.

"The pressure of the game, the players make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes.

"I'm not sure that I understood it.

"That's just the way it is, I can't do anything about that now, the game's done."

North fought bravely despite the home team having a monstrous territory advantage for most of the night with a 67-43 inside-50 count.

After establishing a 19-point lead at half-time, the Kangaroos were kept scoreless in the third term to trail at the final break.

Shaw was critical of his team's ill-discipline in that quarter, giving away 10 free kicks and earning just two.

Jy Simpkin, whose pressure for most of the night was terrific, was responsible for giving away four on his own.

"We gave away a lot of free kicks that were there that were silly, undisciplined free kicks, and our boys know that," Shaw said.

"That allowed them to stay in forward half for longer periods of time.

"We gave away three free kicks in the space of 15 seconds.

"That's not going to help.

"That was a fair reason, and Brisbane brought the heat too, they're a good team."

Despite the numerical disadvantage – North Melbourne lost the clearances by 10 and contested possession by 29 – their attack on the ball was ferocious.

"There are times when teams are going to be on top and they'll be statistically on top, which Brisbane were tonight in a lot of areas.

"Good teams find the ability to stay in games like that.

"They got us in the contest, they peppered us in inside 50s, they're a top-quality team, but somehow we were still in the game at the end.

"That's a good sign from my perspective."