North Melbourne’s VFL winning streak has been stopped at three, with the unbeaten, ladder-leading Footscray Bulldogs scraping over the line to hand the Kangaroos an 11-point loss.

After suffering an ankle injury in Round 3 against the Bulldogs’ senior side, Jed Anderson made his long-awaited return to competitive football in the clash.

On restricted game time, playing a bit over a quarter, Anderson played exactly as North supporters would have expected, with his hard, clean and contested game style standing tall.

Leigh Adams says it wasn’t just the number three's ability after such a long injury layoff that impressed him, but also how he interacted with the VFL side.

“He’s one of the senior players in our AFL team, but his ability to come down here, teach our young blokes and buy into what we’re trying to achieve at VFL level was fantastic,” Adams told North Media.

“He played about 40 minutes of footy and had 8 touches and 6 clearances, so we know what his strengths are and he was just hard at it, which is what you expect from him.

“Coming back from injury he was able to get some reward today with a few touches and a goal as well.”

First-year player Charlie Lazzaro has been taking his game to the next level in the VFL, with the midfielder improving on a week-to-week basis with the reserve side.

Having been made to earn his time at the coalface, Lazzaro did not disappoint when thrown into the middle, finishing with 29 disposals, 12 contested possessions and a well-deserved goal.

“Charlie’s work-rate and intensity have been really good in the last few weeks, but he probably hasn’t got the reward he’d have hoped for playing as a forward ... he got that today,” Adams said.

“With us not having many midfielders today and Jed only playing half … he was able to just hunt the footy a bit more.

“He was clean inside, he was making good decisions and I was really happy with his game.”

Lachie Young returned to his old stomping ground against Footscray, and excelled in defence under challenging conditions.

With a strong and blustery wind impacting the flight of the football throughout the contest, both Young and VFL captain Flynn Appleby took countless integral intercept marks to help launch attacks from the defensive 50.

Adams says the performances of the pair was crucial to keeping a dangerous Footscray forward line to its lowest score of the season so far.

“We were able to put Lachie Young behind the footy, we know he’s a really good aerial player and his ability to judge the ball in the air is really good. I was happy with some of the marks he took,” he said.

“I can’t talk highly enough about Flynn Appleby … he played on (Jamarra) Ugle-Hagan today who didn’t really have a touch to be honest.

“His leadership is great. Anything he demands of his teammates isn’t anything he wouldn’t do himself. He’s got this group in a really good spot due to his leadership and his footy is in a really good spot as well.”

Classy wingman Jared Polec continued his return from a hamstring injury, picking up 32 disposals, 6 tackles and a goal in a versatile performance.

Along with Lazzaro, Polec also spent some time running through the middle of the ground, and Adams says his experience was telling late in the game.

“His game was really good today, and being able to flick him into midfield when we were starting to run out of legs was good,” Adams said.

“He was able to get the footy and we know he uses it really well. His attitude this week was fantastic as well, so he was a real positive today.”

Much like the senior team, the improvement on the field of North’s VFL side has been immense as the season has progressed.

After suffering a difficult loss to Footscray in pre-season, the Roos' ability to fight and compete for the full four quarters this time around should not be underestimated.

“Having AFL players dropping in is a cherry on top and an absolute treat to have, but our VFL blokes have been getting better every week,” Adams said.

“Their training standards have improved dramatically, the ability for them to play their roles and play for their teammates has been fantastic.

“It was just unfortunate today that we didn’t use the wind well enough when we had it today to put a bit more scoreboard pressure on … [but] I couldn’t be prouder of this group at the moment.”

North Melbourne: 8.8.56
Footscray: 10.7.67


Jared Polec – 32 disposals, 6 tackles, 4 clearances, 1 goal
Charlie Lazzaro – 29 disposals, 5 tackles, 12 contested possessions, 1 goal
Tom Campbell – 25 disposals, 48 hitouts, 6 clearances, 1 goal
Patrick Walker – 20 disposals, 6 marks
Lachie Young – 18 disposals, 7 marks, 6 tackles
Atu Bosenavulagi – 15 disposals, 5 tackles
Connor Menadue – 11 disposals
Charlie Ham – 10 disposals (ankle injury)
Jed Anderson – 8 disposals, 6 clearances, 1 goal

Best of the VFL

Harry Jones: 33 disposals, 5 clearances, 1 goal
Flynn Appleby: 23 disposals, 11 marks
Connor Byrne: 23 disposals, 4 tackles
Hamish Dick: 15 disposals, 4 marks, 1 goal
Jack Watkins: 14 disposals, 9 tackles