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Roos roll Geelong to keep finals hopes alive

Highlights: North Melbourne v Geelong The Roos and Cats clash in round 19
Aaron Black of the Kangaroos and James Kelly of the Cats in action during the 2013 AFL Round 19 match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Geelong Cats at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on August 02, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Geelong's James Kelly wraps up North Melbourne's Aaron Black on Friday night
A VINTAGE performance from Brent Harvey led North Melbourne to a 10-point win over Geelong on Friday night, keeping the club’s slim finals hopes alive.

Harvey had 37 disposals, including 24 in the first half, to run through the Cats as the Roos recorded an upset 15.6 (96) to 13.8 (86) victory at Etihad Stadium. 

Five talking points: North Melbourne v Geelong

It leaves North on eight wins and within reach of the top eight, while the loss may come back to haunt the Cats (14-4), who could have gone close to sealing a top-four position with a victory. 

Typically, given the way North’s season has unfolded, the win didn’t come without some anxious moments. 

After getting 19 points ahead early in the last quarter, the Cats dragged it back to 11 points with six minutes to go. This time, unlike in round two when the Cats stormed back from 41 points down to win by four, Brad Scott's men held on. 

Scott was pleased that his side didn't wilt under pressure.

"We've had obviously some really disappointing losses this year that have cut pretty deep," the North Melbourne coach said

"It's a good night for our supporters, for everyone who's backed the club in." 

The Kangaroos deserved to win as much as the Cats did not. 

Steven Motlop, Mathew Stokes and Steve Johnson played strong games and gave the Cats every chance, but the Roos stuck with Geelong's every challenge. 


"We're disappointed in the performance," Cats coach Chris Scott said.

"We blew some golden opportunities, and then when the game was really on we just couldn't break it open enough. 

"In terms of what we planned as opposed to what we delivered, there was a fair gap."

Without skipper Andrew Swallow for the first time since the opening round of the 2009 season after he ruptured his Achilles tendon last week, North had a number of players of varying experience fill the void. 

Harvey roamed free for much of the first half before the 35-year-old got closer attention from Taylor Hunt after the main break. 

Daniel Wells gave the Roos a layer of class with four goals and 18 disposals.  

At the other end of the scale, Aaron Mullett continued his excellent season, sweeping from defence through the wings, and Jack Ziebell's nous around the stoppages made Swallow's absence less noticeable. Ryan Bastinac added three valuable goals. 


The sides played each other in sanctioned practice matches throughout the pre-season, and it was clear on Friday night their game philosophies are not diametrically opposed. 

The ball rapidly moved from one end of the ground to the other, with quick handballs through the corridor opening space in the forward lines. 

At times, it was like watching one team play against itself, with mirroring full-ground transitions of play. But North was there at the crunch moments, and the Cats were a little off their game. 

The early part of the game set its tone. 

North steadied after Geelong took control of the opening moments, and although Motlop kicked two for the first term and almost set up another, the Kangaroos were on top.

They harassed, smothered, and ran harder into space. 

The Roos' fanatical attack was evident, but it was more measured. They made their move in the second term, kicking six goals to four, giving them the upper hand they desperately held on to. 







The Cats struggled to keep Brent Harvey in check on Friday night. Picture: AFL Media

NORTH MELBOURNE       4.3   10.4    12.5    15.6 (96)
GEELONG                            3.1    7.2      11.3    13.8 (86)

GOALS
North Melbourne: Wells 4, Bastinac 3, Adams 2, Hansen, Mullett, Jacobs, Ziebell, Petrie, Thomas
Geelong: Motlop 3, Vardy 2, Duncan 2, Stokes, Hawkins, Varcoe, Johnson. Smedts, Taylor

BEST 
North Melbourne: Harvey, Wells, Hansen, Thompson, Mullett, Adams, Atley 
Geelong: Johnson, Bartel, Duncan, Motlop, Enright, Stokes, Selwood

INJURIES 
North Melbourne: Nil
Geelong: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
North Melbourne: Ben Jacobs replaced by Brad McKenzie in the final quarter
Geelong: Trent West replaced by Billie Smedts in the third quarter

Reports: Nil
 
Umpires: McBurney, Dalgleish, Stevic
 
Official crowd: 33,584 at Etihad Stadium