North Melbourne young gun Will Phillips was given another task on Saturday night following his impressive outing against Collingwood's Nick Daicos.

Phillips - who has struggled to break into the senior side consistently - has found his niche in curbing the opposition's best midfielders and Melbourne's Clayton Oliver was no different.

Oliver's average of 24.9 disposals in 2024 took a massive hit after a lowly 14 possessions thanks to the efforts of the Kangaroos' tagger, which ultimately helped in winning the midfield battle on Saturday night.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Phillips heaped praise from coaches Alastair Clarkson and Simon Goodwin for his performance.

"It's certainly given him an opportunity to play in the side. He's been playing some pretty good footy in the VFL, and just with the rotation of guys – he did too good a job on Daicos in the first half last week not to continue to get an opportunity in that space this week," Clarkson said post-match.

Marvel Stadium

"What we do next week (against the Western Bulldogs), I'm not too sure. There's a little bit of a challenge, because what's kept him out of the side in a sense is the depth of midfielders we've had through there. With Jy (Simpkin) coming back this week, our captain, that puts a test on the depth of the midfield and who can play through there.

"But we wanted to give him another opportunity in that space and thought he acquitted himself really well. Sometimes guys just need to have some sort of role like that to just find their spot in the side."

Goodwin shared the same view, but believes his star midfielder will bounce back into "good form soon".

"It was a tight tag, and Phillips did a good job. If you had to say who won the battle, you'd say he won the battle," Goodwin said.

"He shut Clayton out of the game for the majority of the night. Clayton keeps working through it and he'll continue to work through it. Clayton's had a lot of attention for a long time, so the young fella did a good job on him."