North Melbourne continued their impressive start to the season with a solid 18.11 (119) to 11.15 (81) victory over Gold Coast thanks to a sensational final term. The result sees the Kangaroos open the season with five straight wins for the first time since 2005, putting the club in a strong position to finish in the top eight for a third year in a row. Coming up against a Suns side that was 3-1 so far this season, North Melbourne looked strong in all areas of the field, pulling away from their opponents in the final period of the game and really adding a shine to the win.
After finishing eighth last season, the Roos surprised a few people by reaching the preliminary finals before losing to the West Coast Eagles. While the club have been tipped to be a top-four team this season, even their perfect start to the new campaign hasn't convinced everyone that they have what it takes to go all the way. The four-time Premiers, who are still at around 9/1 at the end of April with the AFL odds, have already proven this team could well be a much stronger one to the squad that finished last season.
Their improvements were on display in the win over the Suns in a game that saw Ben Brown continue his prolific goalscoring form from 2015. He kicked four goals and was one of six Roos players to score more than once in another free-scoring performance from North Melbourne. Shaun Higgins opened his account for the year with a well taken hat-trick of goals, while Todd Goldstein, Lindsay Thomas and Drew Petrie all scored twice as they took advantage of an injury-hit Suns team.
In what was Gold Coast head coach Rodney Eade's 600th career game in the AFL, the Suns were without key defenders Steven May and Rory Thompson. That duo's absence was painfully evident by the way the Roos scored seemingly at will, certainly towards the end of the game. While the hosts clawed their way back to within a score of their opponents, the Kangaroos managed to pull away from the Suns with a burst of goals each time. They really took the initiative in the final stages of the game.
Kangaroos' midfielder Ben Cunnington was placed on report in the second term for rough conduct on Suns captain Gary Ablett, but that didn't take away from what was a very successful trip for North Melbourne. Gold Coast, who have now lost some of the early momentum that came from three straight wins, certainly didn't play at their best, but even the most biased Suns fan would admit their team would have had much chance even at full strength. The Roos, who are now four points clear at the top of the AFL ladder, march on with another notch on their belt and with more believers than a few weeks ago.
There is still a long way to go this season and more than enough time for the Roos to throw away all their good early-year work, but the signs are definitely positive for North Melbourne fans as we head into an interesting part of the campaign.