Injured Roos break down as Horne-Francis, Power cruise
North Melbourne's horror season has gone from bad to worse, with a litany of injuries topping off a 70-point loss to Port Adelaide at Blundstone Arena in Hobart.
Star midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke (29 disposals, eight clearances) was a shining light in the Kangaroos' 20.15 (135) to 10.5 (65) defeat, but is "very unlikely" to feature next week after suffering a hamstring injury.
"We've got four or five guys that are very sore out of the game," North coach Alastair Clarkson said post-match.
Darcy Tucker (hamstring), Flynn Perez (concussion) and Jack Mahony (shoulder) could all join Davies-Uniacke on the sidelines, and with North Melbourne slumping to a seventh consecutive loss, the positivity that accompanied their 2-0 start to the season has all but dissipated.
While Port Adelaide have some injury concerns of their own, with Todd Marshall suffering a concussion early in the match and Charlie Dixon straining a quad at training this week, the overall picture is bright for the Power.
With dynamic young midfield duo Zak Butters (32 disposals, 12 score involvements) and Connor Rozee (25 possessions, six clearances) leading the way, the Power have won six games in a row.
While the game went largely to script, the Jason Horne-Francis v Kangaroos sideshow wasn't nearly as fiery as many were expecting.
The 2021 No.1 draft pick wasn't confronted physically or verbally in his first clash against his old club, and warmed into the game to finish with 15 disposals, five tackles and a goal after managing just one handball in the first term.
"It was a good day for Jason to get out of the way in some ways," Port coach Ken Hinkley said post-match.
"The first time you play against your previous side, I think that's where you get your chance to really move on. Hopefully for Jase now he moves on to a career that's going to be long and strong for Port Adelaide."
While Horne-Francis had one of his quieter matches his lookalike Miles Bergman starred, taking six intercept marks and kicking the ball beautifully from the back half to set up a host of shots at goal.
He was among his side's best in the second term as the Power piled on eight goals to one to put any chance of an upset to bed after an even opening quarter.
With their star forwards on the sidelines, Port shared the load brilliantly, finding 14 individual goalkickers.
Jeremy Finlayson slotted three majors from eight shots, while former Cat Francis Evans kicked his first two goals in Port Adelaide colours and Brynn Teakle kicked the first of his career.
Even key defender Tom Jonas got in on the action, booting a rare goal - the second of his 210-game career.
While Todd Goldstein (55 hitouts, 24 disposals and 11 clearances) and Nick Larkey (four goals) fought valiantly, North were sloppy when delivering the ball inside 50 and offered little resistance the other way, with Port Adelaide frequently taking the ball from end to end with ease.
"The gap between us and Port Adelaide was stark, in terms of our ball use," Clarkson admitted.
To add further insult to injury, Aidan Corr will face MRO scrutiny after being reported for striking Ollie Lord on the jaw in an off-the-ball scuffle.
Port Adelaide have an opportunity to firm up their top-four credentials with a win over Melbourne at Adelaide Oval next Friday night.