IT MIGHT not have been a performance that generally resonates with a genuine premiership contender, but Geelong can take solace from banking another four points during its hard-fought 30-point victory over a gallant North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday evening.
The slow-starting and sometimes sloppy Cats could manage just one goal while being outplayed during the opening quarter, but got better as the game progressed to register the 10.17 (77) to 7.5 (47) triumph that moves them back into the top eight.
Star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield returned to the Geelong line-up to pick up 22 disposals, but he left the field midway through the final quarter with an ankle concern that he classified as a “light tweak” and will be monitored ahead of next week's clash against West Coast.
With Dangerfield down on output and skipper Joel Selwood held to just 18 disposals by Kayne Turner, it was left to Brandan Parfitt and a career-high 34 touches that earned him the best-on-ground performance.
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Parfitt was one of a handful of Cats to play a strong four quarters, with reliable defenders Tom Stewart, Mark Blicavs and Lachlan Henderson also solid contributors throughout.
With Tom Hawkins well held by improving defender Ben McKay, it was left to Gary Rohan and Sam Menegola (two goals apiece) to fill the void, as the Cats struggled for accuracy in front of the big sticks.
It was the same old story for an inexperienced North side which showed plenty of fight early and once again battled injury concerns to key players, with the Roos falling away late after showing plenty of promising signs.
Veteran midfielder Ben Cunnington led the way for North with 29 disposals and seven clearances, while Jack Ziebell picked up a season-high 38 touches in his new role on the last line of defence.
The Roos lost Aaron Hall to concussion midway through the second quarter, with Mitch Duncan collecting the in-form North defender after a misdirected shot at goal.
Geelong greats Harry Taylor and Gary Ablett Junior were celebrated prior to the game with a lap of honour, but the buzz among the crowd quickly dissipated when North Melbourne dominated the opening quarter.
Turner was putting the clamps on Selwood and with the old firm of Todd Goldstein and Cunnington dominating in the middle of the ground, it was the Kangaroos by 10 points at the first change.
CATS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
A classy goal from Zach Tuohy on the run from 50 at the start of the second term helped the hosts gain some momentum, as the Cats took a narrow six-point advantage into half-time.
Menegola sprung to life with consecutive goals midway through the penultimate quarter as the Cats inched ahead, and some brilliance from Dangerfield helped set up Rohan for a major to ensure the margin was 20 points at the final break.
Nick Larkey got his second early in the final quarter to give the visitors some hope, but Hawkins finally got away from McKay to score as the Cats picked up their third win of the season.
Welcome back Danger
Since debuting for the Crows back in round 20 in 2008, Patrick Dangerfield has never missed more than three consecutive games of football and the durable midfielder showed his class against the hapless Kangaroos as he returned from a three-week suspension to help the Cats prevail. But all eyes will be on Dangerfield's ankle this week, to see if the veteran recovers in time to face the Eagles next weekend.
You shouldn't mess with the clearance king
There's not many better in the league when it comes to clearances than North Melbourne veteran Ben Cunnington and the midfield bull was at it again against the Cats. Cunnington - who had a one-match ban overturned at the tribunal on Monday night - gave North a great start when he picked up 11 disposals and four clearances in a dominant opening term. The 29-year-old did get a bit tired late in the contest, but his 29 disposals and seven clearances were first class.
Don't you want somebody to love
They love their cult heroes at the Cattery - think Max Rooke or Ronnie Burns - and young tall Sam De Koning showed enough on debut to suggest he could be the next much-loved figure to don the famous blue and white hoops. While De Koning failed to kick a goal and only had eight disposals, he showed glimpses of his ability and the crowd rose every time he went near the ball.
GEELONG 1.3 3.9 7.12 10.17 (77)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 3.3 5.4 7.5 (47)
Geelong: Menegola 2, Rohan 2, Close, Bews, Dahlhaus, Tuohy, Miers, Hawkins
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Stephenson 2, Cunnington, Hall, Thomas
Geelong: Parfitt, Stewart, Henderson, Duncan, Blicavs, Menegola
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Simpkin, Atley, Bonar, Stephenson, Young
Geelong: Dangerfield (ankle)
North Melbourne: Hall (concussion), Lazarro (hamstring awareness)
Geelong: Clark (unused)
North Melbourne: Taylor (replaced Hall)
Crowd: 21,282 at GMHBA Stadium