Robbie Tarrant stood tall among a host of unsung heroes as hard-running North Melbourne ran over the top of Geelong to record a 16-point AFL win at Simonds Stadium on Sunday.
Tarrant, 26, was picked up as a key forward by the Kangaroos at the 2007 national draft, but a run of bad luck and serious injuries have limited him to just 41 matches.
His shutdown job on Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins (one goal) was the pick of them, with Tarrant also picking up 23 disposals and nine marks.
“We have had trouble with Hawkins in the past so Robbie Tarrant, if he can get some continuity in his footy (and) if he can keep playing, he is going to be a valuable player for us,” said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott after the 12.11 (83) to 9.13 (67) victory.
“It wasn’t just Robbie, I thought it was a pretty effective performance from our defenders and reward for all the hard work they have been doing.
“(Tarrant) has been at North longer than I have – we saw him play forward early on but the team needed a big strong key defender.
“He is just a fantastic athlete, he just needed to get some continuity with training and playing to be able to show what he can do.”
Off-season recruit Jarrad Waite and discarded Tiger Robbie Nahas booted three goals apiece for the Kangaroos, Mason Wood was good in the midfield and debutant Trent Dumont kicked a crucial final-quarter goal minutes after taking off the substitute’s vest.
After opening brightly with the first four goals of the match, the Cats could only manage five more after quarter-time as they slumped to a 1-3 win-loss record for the season.
The Kangaroos put the clamps on the home side through the middle two quarters and then broke the game open with five goals in the final term.
After a below-average start to the season, Geelong star Steve Johnson started as the sub for the first time in his celebrated career before coming on and kicking two of Geelong’s three goals in the final quarter.
“It’s certainly not a precursor to anything we will do in subsequent weeks,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott.
“I don’t think it will be his main role in the future but it was the right thing for us, given the circumstances, this week.”
The Kangaroos moved to a 2-2 win-loss mark ahead of next weekend’s big clash with Hawthorn.
The Cats must regroup in time to tackle Richmond, who were humbled by Melbourne early in round four.
Chris Scott said the biggest issue for him on Sunday was the Cats’ inconsistency.
“We had control of the game today and then a few really bad errors halt your momentum and get the opposition back into the game,” he said.