Two teams desperate for wins brought their best, but a second-half comeback saw the Kangaroos beat the hapless Hawks 13.9 (87) to 12.8 (80) in front of 9121 people at UTAS Stadium.
The Hawks spent the first half of the Saturday afternoon bout on top, but in another Launnie thriller the Roos came back to secure Tasmanian David Noble's first win as coach.
"I'm really pleased for a range of our people - I think our members and fans have been hanging in with us for a few weeks now as we've progressively got better," Noble said.
"I'm really encouraged for our players to get that sense and nourishment of what that win feels like."
The victory was made all the more sweeter for Noble, who celebrated his 54th birthday on Saturday as well.
"It all seemed to fit and line up didn't it? It was a gusty win and it's what I'd like our team to stand for," he said.
North Melbourne had plenty of entries early, but nothing to show for it as a staunch Hawks back-line kept them on their toes.
The Hawks, on the other hand, had no trouble converting, with Luke Breust, Chad Wingard and Jacob Koschitzke kicking plenty between them in the opening quarter.
Wingard even collected a stray cameraman after taking a tumble during one of his goals.
While the scoring plateaued for the Hawks in the second, speedy mid Dylan Moore was able to get loose to boot one through the middle giving the Hawks a 22-point lead at the half.
Tassie's tenant teams exchanged blows in the third, but pressure from both back lines kept goals to a minimum.
Then Taylor Garner as well as midfielders Jack Mahony and Luke Davies-Uniacke kicked scores to bring North Melbourne within arm's reach.
This was followed by a momentum-swinging banana from Cam Zurhaar, cutting the Hawks' lead to just one.
Roos backs Trent Dumont and Jack Ziebell did their part on the other end, upping stoppages and keeping the Hawks off the scoreboard for most of the quarter.
Zurhaar opened the fourth quarter with a pair of goals to put the Roos in front for the first time in the contest.
But the Hawks weren't done yet, with a leaping mark and goal by James Cousins keeping tension high.
A howitzer from Hawthorn's Jack Scrimshaw had just enough oomph to get over the line to regain his team's lead.
It was only fleeting, however as Garner kicked his third to bring the Roos back on top before teammate Tarryn Thomas kicked a ripper to extend it.
Hawthorn's midfield did them no favours late in the final term, struggling mightily for entries.
"We just couldn't get our hands on the footy," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.
"Three their guys had 37 clearances between them which is a huge tally.
"And when they had momentum on their side of the field it became a territory battle they were winning far too much.
"In the end, our defence was just overwhelmed by the sheer avalanche of stoppage wins North were able to have."
A last ditch goal from Breust brought his team within a score, but it was too late as missed opportunities had the home team taste defeat by seven.
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