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This was the grudge match that wasn’t.
The hostility from North Melbourne fans towards Jason Horne-Francis was not matched on the other side of the fence on another dirty day for the Kangaroos.
Though Horne-Francis, with 15 possessions and a goal, had little impact in his first game against his former club, the young gun had the last laugh, as Port Adelaide outclassed North in a one-sided match by 70 points.
The bright start to Alastair Clarkson’s reign at Arden Street is now a distant memory for North, whose loss was compounded by a hamstring injury to arguably their best player Luke Davies-Uniacke, one of four Kangaroos who failed to see out the game in Hobart, and match review concerns for defender Aidan Corr.
Davies-Uniacke finished the match on the bench with ice on his hamstring, alongside Darcy Tucker (hamstring), Flynn Perez (concussion) and Jack Mahony (shoulder).
It was the seventh loss in a row for last year’s wooden-spooners, the last five by an average of nearly 62 points.
For all the supposed bad blood between North players and the club’s former No.1 draft pick, there was little argy-bargy towards Horne-Francis from his old teammates.
Apart from a push and shove at the first bounce from Hugh Greenwood, no Kangaroo went out of his way to vent their anger at Horne-Francis. Cameron Zurhaar hit him hard at a few contests, but it was all above board.
North fans were not in a forgiving mood, booing him when he was near the ball and every time he came on and off the field.
Jason Horne-Francis, left, runs with the ball in Hobart.Credit: Getty Images
After an even first term where North’s poor discipline cost them two goals, Port were a cut above, putting the game beyond doubt by half-time with eight goals in the second term.
Corr has a nervous Sunday waiting for the match review officer’s findings after being booked for striking. In what could be another blow to North’s big man stocks, Corr was booked for a right jab on Ollie Lord, who grabbed at his chin though was not hurt. It led to a free kick reversal, costing North a goal. Already missing ruckman Tristan Xerri and key forward Charlie Comben, the Kangas played Griffin Logue, who was recruited as a key defender, as the second ruck.
Aidan Corr competes for the ball. Credit: Getty Images
CONCERN FOR MARSHALL
Todd Marshall will miss another game after suffering his second concussion in three weeks. The talented Port forward came off second best in a bump he initiated on Curtis Taylor in the first quarter, and was subbed out in the second term. Marshall was in his second game back after being concussed in round six. The Power were already without spearhead Charlie Dixon, who did not take his place in the selected 22 due to a minor strain of his right quadriceps. Both clubs activated their subs in the first half. North lost Darcy Tucker to a hamstring injury.
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