STILL "fighting and scrapping" to finish near the top of the ladder, Geelong coach Chris Scott said he was more than happy with Saturday's tricky win over last-placed North Melbourne.
The Cats ground out a 20-point victory to maintain second position, but had to wait until the dying minutes to bank the four premiership points at Hobart's Blundstone Arena.
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Scott said Geelong got exactly what it expected from the much-improved Kangaroos at their home away from home.
"Most of our guys have never been here, much less played at this ground," Scott said.
"In what was a difficult game, it was a scrappy game there's no doubt about that."
Geelong generated 60 inside 50s, but battled to penetrate North's defence, kicking just eight goals.
Scott said despite the scoring struggles, he wasn't reading too much into it, saying across the season the Cats had scored heavily.
He was pleased with Geelong's ability to restrict the Roos' ball movement after it was asked some early questions.
Scott said there was still plenty to work on with matches against Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda and Melbourne to round out its season.
"I think it's really competitive at the top," he said.
"I wouldn't even limit it to six or eight teams, I think there are others on their day can well and truly trouble the teams right up the top of the ladder.
"We're still in a position where we're fighting and scrapping to finish as high as we can."
North coach David Noble said there were areas of improvement following the loss, but overall he was pleased with the performance.
"I think we're showing continued improvement," he said.
"I was really pleased with the effort.
"Unfortunately it wasn't a great spectacle, but it was just a tough encounter. I think both teams were trying to restrict some strengths from the other team."
Despite missing Ben Cunnington – who Noble said was now doing well following the removal of a tumour during the week – the Kangaroos were able to match Geelong around stoppages for most of the game.
Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin again impressed, while youngsters Curtis Taylor, Jaidyn Stephenson and Will Phillips were all given significant midfield minutes against their more experienced opponents.
Noble said there was some small areas to tidy up.
"You can't survive on that many inside 50s (34) can you?
"There's was probably 10 times through the game where we just didn't get the decision or the execution right to give us an opportunity to put more pressure on.
"What we did well was defend the daylight out of those turnovers when we could. I thought our fight was really good."