GEELONG has blown away North Melbourne with a 13-goal to one second half to record a 112-point victory and inflict the Kangaroos' biggest loss of the year at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.
The 21.18 (144) to 5.2 (32) result was never really in doubt, despite the Kangaroos trailing by less than a goal at quarter-time, as the Cats surged into second spot on the ladder with their sixth win on the trot, while the Kangaroos slumped to their 13th straight loss.
CATS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Already at long odds, the Kangaroos lost luckless utility Aaron Hall to a quad injury in the first two minutes of the game.
That was after Cats star Patrick Dangerfield marked his return after four weeks out with a calf injury by kicking the opening goal of the game from the centre bounce after 13 seconds.
Late in the first quarter, with North three goals down, Kayne Turner was also forced out of the match when he hit his head and hurt his knee in a clash with Mark Blicavs.
The Kangaroos rallied, kicking the last three goals of the opening term to trail by just four points at quarter-time.
But the Cats ramped up their team defence to repeatedly force turnovers as they boosted their percentage ahead of next Thursday night's big game at GMHBA Stadium.
North only managed two goals and 13 inside 50s for the rest of the match.
It is North's biggest losing margin of the season and comes in the same week that long-time North administrator Geoff Walsh returned to Arden St in an advisory role as they review their football operations.
Walsh sat in the coaches' box for the match.
This is North's third three-figure losing margin since Noble took over as coach last season, following their 128-point surrender to the Western Bulldogs in round three in 2021 and Brisbane's 108-point demolition in round three this year. It emerged later that Noble had given his players a fierce "spray" after the Lions loss.
As North continue to wallow at the foot of the ladder, the ruthless Cats took full control.
Key forwards Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins lapped up the faultless supply from their teammates further up the field.
Cameron was best afield with four goals and 30 possessions, while Hawkins kicked six goals.
Onballer Mitch Duncan marked his 250th game with 30 possessions and had a shot at goal after the final siren, but could not cap his dream milestone with an accurate kick.
Kangaroos midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke was outstanding with a game-high 35 possessions and eight clearances in a lone hand for his sorry side.
The Cats’ win sets up a tantalising top-two clash with Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday night.
Danger’s back, in a big way
It took the Brownlow Medallist just 13 seconds to make his presence felt, picking up the opening centre clearance before streaming down the field to boot a long-range goal on the run from the centre square. After four weeks on the sidelines with a calf injury, the comeback kid would go on to record 19 disposals and five marks in managed game time. Despite Danger’s extended stint on the sideline, he was in solid touch after his barnstorming start to the game and looks to be a dangerous asset for the Cats in the back-half of the season.
Milestone man Mitch
The ever-reliable Mitch Duncan celebrated game number 250 in style, with his 30-disposal and 14-mark effort making him one of the Cats’ best in the huge win. He had a shot on goal after the siren for what would have capped the fairytale off, but alas it wasn’t to be as the shot from the 50m arc fell short. Captain Joel Selwood didn’t take part in the match, but was on hand to chair off his good mate in his milestone game.
The walking wounded
It was always going to be an uphill battle to beat Geelong on its home deck, but North's job was made even harder when it lost two players before quarter-time. Aaron Hall was subbed-out with a quad injury just two minutes into the game, then Kayne Turner followed soon after, forced out of the match with concussion after clashing with Geelong's Mark Blicavs. That left the Roos with just three on the bench and made life even harder for the bottom-placed side.
GEELONG 3.5 8.8 15.12 21.18 (144)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 4.1 5.1 5.2 (32)
Geelong: Hawkins 6, Cameron 4, Narkle 2, Stengle 2, Close 2, Menegola, Guthrie, Dangerfield, Z. Guthrie, Blicavs
North Melbourne: Mahony, Larkey, Curtis, Xerri, Zurhaar
Geelong: Cameron, Hawkins, Duncan, C. Guthrie, Tuohy, Smith
North Melbourne: Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin, Corr, Stephenson
Geelong: Jake Kolodjashnij (head knock)
North Melbourne: Aaron Hall (quad), Kayne Turner (concussion)
Geelong: Sam De Koning (cork) replaced in selected side by Quinton Narkle
North Melbourne: Nil
Geelong: Shaun Higgins (replaced Jake Kolodjashnij)
North Melbourne: Phoenix Spicer (replaced Aaron Hall)