Battered Roos hold off Hawks

Michael Ramsey
An undermanned North Melbourne have held on for a 28-point AFL victory over Hawthorn

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has hailed the determination of his players after the undermanned Kangaroos held on for a gritty 28-point victory over Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium.

Up by 57 points at halftime on Sunday, the Kangaroos looked dead on their feet in the third quarter after losing both Shaun Higgins and Ed Vickers-Willis to concussions within the same passage of play.

Hawthorn dominated the third term and threatened an inspired comeback but North did enough to stem the tide and claim a 14.14 (98) to 11.4 (70) win, climbing to third on the AFL ladder.

Spearhead Ben Brown (four goals), Ben Cunnington (30 disposals) and backman Robbie Tarrant (16 marks) played starring roles during North's dominant start with Hawthorn restricted to just three first-half goals.

The complexion changed within a matter of seconds when North lost both Higgins and Vickers-Willis to concussions.

A motionless Higgins was taken from the ground on a motorised stretcher and sent to hospital after a nasty head collision with Hawthorn's Ryan Burton.

The 30-year-old, whose wife on Sunday gave birth to their first child, was coherent and in good spirits after the incident.

Vickers-Willis was able to run from the ground after colliding with Harry Morrison but was also ruled out for the final term.

Hawthorn took control in the third quarter with Luke Breust slotting three of his five majors and Liam Shiels adding two more.

But North fought back bravely and secured a hard-fought victory through late goals to Cameron Zurhaar and Jarrad Waite.

"We knew at halftime that Hawthorn are a very dangerous side and that they would respond," Scott said.

"I thought it showed great character and fight, when we were clearly running out of legs, to be able to not only stem the tide but to push back the other way and score ourselves."

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson was pleased with his side's third-quarter fightback but left to lament a "dreadful" first half.

"At (halftime), we're staring down the barrel of a 100-point loss ... to the credit of the players, their pride kicked in a bit," he said.

In another blow for the Hawks, Tom Mitchell's Brownlow Medal hopes could be in jeopardy with a suspected high elbow on North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein certain to face scrutiny.

Tagged by Ben Jacobs, Mitchell's frustrations boiled over in the second term when he gave away a free kick - and a resulting goal - for the glancing blow on Goldstein behind the play.

Mitchell's scintillating form had him considered an early Brownlow frontrunner but Jacobs wore him like a glove, restricting the prolific ball-winner to 19 disposals.

North's Zurhaar was reported for rough conduct after laying a hard bump on David Mirra which sent the Hawks backman hurtling into the boundary fence.