Melbourne win by 36 points
With their season all but over before the halfway mark, Melbourne introduced the just-turned-17 Sean Charles, and Irish import Brian Stynes. Charles was the star, after being so nervous before the game that he'd slept in the office of his boarding school to be alone, he kicked five goals. The Demons overcame a 27 point deficit late in the second quarter to win their second game for the season, and first since Round 2. During the week there were reports that sponsors Snowy Mountain Water had offered players $400,000 if they made the finals, and the win left a remote but still unlikely possibility of that happening.
The debuting Stynes was given the difficult job of minding North full forward John Longmire, who'd kicked 14 two years earlier. After conceding five goals he was used in a variety of positions, while Longmire didn't kick another after Peter Rohde was sent to him. North had struggled to stay in games for four quarters all year, but looked unstoppable when they booted eight straight in the opening term - including four in the last five minutes. They had the better of the second quarter as well. A late goal before the half cut the gap to 19 points, before Melbourne kicked five goals to one in the third term, grabbing the lead midway through.
After being held goalless until half time, Charles outscored North five goals to four in the second half. His goals came off the pack, or after finding space near goal. The third was a gift, with a poor kick in defence eventually causing the ball to spill in a spot where he could soccer it through. Charles benefited from a midfield that got on top, led by Michael Pickering who had to bounce back from a heavy knock earlier in the game.
The under pressure John Northey said "any win after what we've been through is terrific", and he praised the performance of younger players.
Best were Pickering, Obst and G. Lovett. Rod Keogh was reported for striking Wayne Schwass in the stomach during the second quarter and was suspended for two matches. His claim to have been trying to restrain Schwass with "two open hands" after a mark was not accepted by the tribunal.
North Melbourne 13.10.88 d. Melbourne 11.19.85
Goals - Sullivan 2, Mahoney 2, Beveridge 2, Kowal 1, Cuthbertson 1, Henwood 1, Williams 1, Bouw 1
Best - Kilmartin, Grinter, M.Febey
Reports - Wayne Henwood (striking)