North Melbourne coach Brad Scott admits his side escaped with a win against St Kilda, but says opponents in the coming rounds are unlikely to offer such chances.
The Kangaroos put in a lacklustre effort early on in Hobart on Saturday, trailing throughout the first half to be 20 points behind at the main break.
A third-quarter comeback including nine goals saw the reinvigorated team win 18.12 (120) to 11.17 (83) – their sixth straight victory.
“We are happy to get away with a win,” Scott said.
He cited poor pressure from the Roos forwards in the first quarter and said his players were too slow to read the game.
“We took too long to adjust to what was happening,” Scott said.
“The opposition will get momentum and get on top but you’ve got to be able to nip that in the bud really quickly and it took much too long today to get that done.”
Next round the Roos face top-of-the-ladder Fremantle.
“We’re really aware of the tough few weeks that are in front of us. All we can do is just keep learning from our poor patches of play,” Scott said.
“We’ve got three teams now above us on the ladder … they’re going to be three really challenging weeks which we welcome.”
Drew Petrie kicked a team-high four goals and was the pick of the forward pack, the coach said.
Lindsay Thomas added three goals during an inconsistent performance.
“You saw the best and worst of Lindsay today,” Scott said.
“To his credit he got back on the bike and was a pretty significant reason for us getting back in the game.”
Captain Andrew Swallow finished with 25 disposals and Todd Goldstein had 39 hitouts in the ruck.
Midfielder Jack Ziebell, who was a strong contributor on Saturday, is on report for striking Jack Newnes in the second quarter.
His absence against Fremantle would be a harsh blow for the Roos.
While Saturday started well for St Kilda, it was a game of missed opportunity with wayward kicking meaning the Saints should have gone to half time boasting almost double the margin.
Coach Alan Richardson said his side needs to not only get possession, but dominate.
“If (we’re) going to play and be a good team we’ve got to be stronger for longer so that’ll be our focus for the remainder of the year.”
For the Saints, ruckman Leigh Montagna finished with 33 disposals and centre David Armitage had 28.