North Melbourne has put in its best performance so far in this VFL pre-season, narrowly going down to the Casey Demons 81-73 on Saturday.

Casey took the lead early and North never managed to reign them in, as the Demons led at every major break.

However, the Demons were forced to work for the win, with North VFL coach Leigh Adams saying that everything is starting to come together for his side.

“We feel like our VFL boys are really starting to understand the concepts we’re trying to play at AFL level,” Adams told North Media.

“We feel like we’re understanding and executing about 90 per cent of our game style, the next step is just a few situational things … I’m really happy with the direction we’re tracking.

“There’s still two practice games before round one, so hopefully we get a win the boost the confidence of the boys, but they understand we’re going in the right direction.”

Despite the hotly contested nature of the clash, there were no injuries to report, with AFL-listed player Taylor Garner amongst those playing on minute restrictions.

Adams said players returning to full fitness can only strengthen the VFL and AFL sides.

“Taylor Garner got through the allotted time he needed to get through today, and we had Louis Cunningham coming back from injury who got through well,” he said.

“We had the most AFL-listed boys we’ve had so far with ten … a fair few AFL boys are coming back from injury which is clearly going to strengthen our program.

“We were happy to get through with no new injuries, and hopefully we’ll get a few more boys back soon.”

Will Phillips played his first full game of football in over a year against Casey and was a constant presence in the midfield.

The number three draft pick was playing on restricted minutes in North’s first practice games, but was finally unleashed for a full four quarters against the Demons.

Adams said he’d been impressed with the development of Phillips over the course of the pre-season.

“Will was really good in tough conditions again, it was a greasy footy and he looked really good in the contest,” he added.

“He was clean, he used the ball well and he ran the game out really well.

“We forget it’s been a while since he played a full game of football … to run out a full game of footy against men will do him the world of good.”

Stay tuned for chats with Will Phillips and Eddie Ford in the coming days.