PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Alex Pearce of the Dockers questions a call with the umpires after the siren during the round 2 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and North Melbourne Kangaroos at Optus Stadium, on March 25, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

North Melbourne again held on to claim its second win of the Alastair Clarkson era, edging out Fremantle at Optus Stadium by the barest of margins.

However, the victory - the Kangaroos' first over the Dockers in Perth since 2018 - didn't come without controversy, with a late deliberate out-of-bounds decision not paid, allowing the Roos to make their way home on the red-eye with the four points.

Despite holding what appeared to be a comfortable lead as the fixture entered red-time, Fremantle thrust their way back in, with unlikely goalkickers in Jaeger O'Meara and Brennan Cox keeping the door ajar for a Freo win.

Yet, after repelling a pair of last-ditch Docker shots at goal, the ball fell to new Roo Daniel Howe mere metres from the goal line, forcing the former Hawk to send the ball long to the safety of the boundary line.

While Howe's would have ordinarily had field umpires anywhere awarding a deliberate out-of-bounds free kick against him, the defender's end-over-end kick crossed the line almost simultaneously with the final siren.

Though newly-minted Fremantle captain Alex Pearce could be seen remonstrating with the umpire crew for a final shot at goal, one that could have delivered a draw or a win for the home side, the Dockers were denied, with adjudicators stating the siren had sounded before the ball had crossed the chalk.

Post-game, Dockers coach Justin Longmuir stressed that while unsure of which particular laws were in play, he was content with the final decision made.

“I'm not 100 per cent sure on the rules,” he said.

“You know what, I trust the umpire got it right. My gut feel is we would have stolen it if we had got a shot on goal and we had have drawn or won it.

“On that last incident, I trust the umpire got it right.”

Longmuir's counterpart, Alastair Clarkson, stated that while his side may have got the rub of the green, they were more than deserving of the win.

“My understanding is that the siren went when the ball was still in play,” he said.

“I think that's just my naked observation of it.

“And I'm not sure if that's the case or not. And so, if the ball is in play and the siren goes, then what happens post the siren if it goes out of bounds or not? The game is dead.

“That is my understanding of that. I'm not sure if that's actually accurate or not. So, it'll be interesting to see.

“So, the lap of the Gods was with us just for that last bit and I think our footy club deserves it just this once."

The AFL ticked off on the decision on Sunday morning in an official statement, stating that the umpire's decision was correct.

"The AFL has reviewed the final passage of play in the Fremantle vs North Melbourne match at Optus Stadium yesterday," the statement read.

"The final siren sounded before the ball goes out of play. The umpire's decision on the ground was correct."

The 0-2 Dockers will be forced to dust themselves off quickly, with a date against arch-rivals West Coast awaiting them next Sunday afternoon.

Fremantle will likely be required to do battle with their bigger brothers without the silver services of Nat Fyfe after the dual Brownlow medallist was struck down with a foot injury.

At the other end of the spectrum, North and Clarkson will be riding high into fixture against Hawthorn next Saturday afternoon, with a chance to earn the club's first 3-0 start since 2016.