North Melbourne’s spluttering AFL season has lurched forward again thanks to a solid 41-point win over Geelong.
A week after they were awful against Gold Coast, the Kangaroos played much more to their potential and beat the Cats 18.12 (120) to 11.13 (79) on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
They take 10th spot from Geelong with their 7-7 record and move to within half a game of the top eight.
It was Geelong’s first game in 20 days, with last weekend’s match against Adelaide cancelled after the death of Crows coach Phil Walsh.
North’s Todd Goldstein continued his stellar season with 47 hitouts, while captain Andrew Swallow and fellow midfielder Ben Cunnington were also prominent.
Shaun Higgins and Drew Petrie kicked three goals apiece.
In his first game since round three, Geelong veteran Jimmy Bartel racked up 41 possessions.
The game started with surely the two most experienced substitutes since the green vest was introduced four years ago.
Between them, North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey (397 games) and Geelong’s James Kelly (265) had played 662 matches heading into Saturday night.
After a tight first term – the margin was never more than six points – North pulled clear in the second term.
With Jarrad Waite dangerous in attack and Goldstein taking control of the ruck, they kicked seven goals to one for a 33-point lead at the main break.
Cats captain Joel Selwood will probably come under video review for a tackle where he grabbed Sam Wright’s arm.
North players were clearly unhappy with Selwood immediately after the incident.
The Cats were trying to rally early in the third term when a goal to Andrew Mackie was denied.
The goal umpire could not see whether Robbie Tarrant had marked the ball over the line and the video replay was inconclusive.
So the goal was not paid, much to the Cats’ frustration.
Every time Geelong pressed, North were able to respond and they led by 38 points at the last change.