QUINTON Narkle provided the sparkle for Geelong as it got back on the winners list on Saturday night, as North Melbourne had a massive thud back to earth under new coach Rhyce Shaw.
Narkle was brilliant in the Cats' comprehensive 55-point thrashing of the Roos, who registered their lowest score in the club's 94-year history by kicking 1.8 (14).
The paltry scoreline 'surpassed' their previous low of 2.7 (19), which had stood since 1930. It was also the first time the Roos have gone through a game with only one goal.
Recruit Luke Dahlhaus celebrates a goal against the Roos. Picture: AFL Photos
The victory puts the Cats back on top of the ladder – Brisbane briefly held the spot after its QClash demolition of Gold Coast – and sets up a brilliant contest against the Lions next week.
But the story will be the Roos, whose run of improved form under Shaw faced a sharp halt against the Cats.
CATS OVERPOWER ROOS AT HOME Full match coverage and stats
Shaw would like to be able to blame the weather. Victoria has been lashed by fierce winds and rain in recent days, and earlier on Saturday the storm looked set to drench GMHBA Stadium.
But the game was played in almost perfect – albeit cold – conditions for most of the clash, with rain only coming in the last term. The wet would have been a good alibi for North, if it was present throughout.
Geelong was workmanlike, breaking far enough ahead of the Roos in the second half to be comfortable of the result from early in the third term.
There will still be questions on how far the Cats are away from the blistering touch that saw them leap to flag favouritism when they won 11 of their first 12 games.
Since then, the Cats are yet to win consecutive games, with next week's top-of-the-table clash with Brisbane at the Gabba to be crucial in their bid for a top-two spot.
Superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield was excellent throughout, gathering 31 disposals and a goal, while Mitch Duncan in his 200th game notched up 27 touches.
Narkle was excellent with 21 disposals and 2.2, while Gryan Miers provided real spark, with the young small forward booting three goals in an opportunistic display in attack.
There were no winners for North Melbourne in the club's poorest performance under Shaw since he took over Brad Scott's position in round 11, first as a caretaker and then permanently.
They were goalless in the first, third and final terms in a performance that will dent the inroads the club has made in the second half of the season.
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It was a slow start for the Cats, too. Miers' goal was the solitary major for the opening term. North Melbourne was unable to register a goal but was only seven points down at the first change as it managed to shut down the Cats' scoring but couldn't get its own offensive play up and going.
Unfortunately for them, they never did manage to find that balance. The Roos got on the board early in the second and had a short period of control without capitalising.
It was a horror night for North Melbourne at the Cattery. Picture: AFL Photos
Geelong continued to be wasteful with its chances, but another goal to Miers, and then a contentious mark paid to Tom Hawkins at the top of the goal square, saw the Cats extend their lead to 16 points at the main change.
Miers was again among the goals in the third term, with Narkle showing some class with a twisting and turning snap that sailed through to help the Cats to a 35-point lead at the last change.
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There was no coming back from there for North, which limped to the final siren with a scoreless last quarter.
Geelong: Patrick Dangerfield had some knee concerns throughout the contest that required treatment, but he played out the game.
North Melbourne: North defender Scott Thompson, who announced his retirement at the end of the year this week, had a sore head after a collision in the third quarter that saw him off the ground under the concussion rules.
The Cats face the Lions in a battle for top spot next Saturday at the Gabba, while North will host Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
GEELONG 1.3 3.9 6.13 9.15 (69)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 1.5 1.8 1.8 (14)
Geelong: Miers 3, Hawkins 2, Narkle 2, Dahlhaus, Dangerfield
North Melbourne: Goldstein
Geelong: Narkle, Dangerfield, Miers, Duncan, Tuohy
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Macmillan, Ziebell, Tarrant
North Melbourne: Thompson (concussion)
Umpires: Haussen, Stevic, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 21,664 at GMHBA Stadium