North Melbourne has defended out-of-form key forward Ben Brown as the Kangaroos spearhead's struggles continued against Essendon.
Brown kicked one goal from eight disposals in the Roos' 14-point loss to the Bombers at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, seeing his tally sit at seven goals from six appearances so far this year.
It's a significant drop-off from his career-best 64-goal season last year, and points to the issues the Roos are having inside 50. Coach Rhyce Shaw backed in the out-of-contract 27-year-old to turn things around.
"We're doing a lot of work and tonight was a really good example of that, but we're just not getting the reward yet," Shaw said post-game.
"But if we continue to do that we'll get those rewards as we go, and I was really pleased with the guys' efforts again.
"'Browny' in particular again competed and tried really hard but we just didn't get the result."
After a promising start to the season which saw the Roos claim wins in the opening two rounds, the loss to the Bombers was North Melbourne's fourth in a row. The Kangaroos have averaged seven goals in those four losses and Shaw said the scoring problem was a whole team issue.
"Our delivery in there isn't great at the moment," Shaw said.
"We won the inside 50s again (47 to 43) so we're giving ourselves a chance, it's just that we need to make the most of those chances and also go in a bit cleaner as well. That will help our forwards."
Shaw said young forward Curtis Taylor had cleared a concussion test and was fine after the game following being crunched by Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel with a heavy bump.