North Melbourne has made it through to a Preliminary for the first time since 2007 after it held off a fast-finishing Geelong at the MCG on Friday night. The Kangaroos jumped out of the blocks and maintained control of the match for much of the evening before surviving a late scare from the Cats, who were 32 points behind with less than 10 minutes remaining but narrowed the gap to just six before the final siren sounded.
The Roos got a perfect start to the game, with a clearance from Todd Goldstein forward of centre ending with Drew Petrie, who handed it over to Lindsay Thomas for a goal within 18 seconds of the opening bounce. Mitch Duncan replied for Geelong a couple of minutes later but then the North machine really clicked into gear. A strong tackle on Corey Enright saw Petrie awarded with a free kick and he kicked his first before Thomas snapped his second to put the Roos 12 points clear. At the eight-minute mark Thomas kicked his third and North were suddenly three goals clear. Josh Walker brought that margin back to two goals but the majors kept coming for North, as Petrie, Kayne Turner and Goldstein kicked truly to see North ahead by 30 points at the 27-minute mark. However, a late surge from the Cats saw Walker kick his second and Tom Hawkins kick his first two and the gaol at the first break was just 12 points, nowhere near reflective of North Melbourne's dominance of the term.
The free-scoring of the first quarter gave way to a dour, defensive struggle in the second with just two majors registered. Importantly for North, they were both to the Kangaroos, with Petrie snapping his third from the goal square at the five-minute mark and Brent Harvey crumbing another at the 22-minute mark. Both sides had plenty of other chances during the term but they resulted in five behinds to each team and at the long break the Roos were an even four goals clear, 9.6 to 5.6.
That margin remained the same at the final change of ends, as each side battle to take control during the third term, North scoring three majors via Aaron Black, Nick Dal Santo and Petrie, and Geelong doing the same through the agency of Josh Caddy, Mark Blicavs and Corey Enright.
Still training by four goals as the last quarter began, Geelong desperately wanted the first goal of the term and Josh Walker provided just that with a mark inside the goal-square within the first minute. The two sides traded behinds for the next 10 minutes before Jack Ziebell broke the game open with goals at the 12 and 14-minute marks to put North 32 points clear and seemingly into a Preliminary Final. But Geelong mounted one final challenge. Tom Hawkins marked and kicked his third from outside 50 at the 17-minute mark and then added another two minutes later to bring the margin back to 19. He then took a goal-square mark at the 23-minute mark to kick his fifth and bring the difference to just 13 points with just under five minutes remaining.
A Lincoln McCarthy snap looked like it had reduced that margin to seven but a video replay showed the ball to be touched. Then, Jimmy Bartel marked on the boundary and his kick from a very acute angle sailed through to make the difference an even goal with a minute and a half left on the clock. Geelong spent most of that time attacking bit North repelled several attacks, with a big pack mark from Todd Goldstein 15 metres out from the Cats' goal pivotal. Geelong was mounting another forward thrust when the final siren sounded, with the Kangaroos six points to the good and into its first Preliminary Final in seven years.
Ex-Saint Nick Dal Santo was outstanding for the winners, with 35 disposals and eight marks, as were Goldstein (54 hitouts, 15 possessions) and Sam Gibson (35 touches and eight marks). For the Cats, Tom Hawkins (five goals, 13 marks), skipper Joel Selwood (24 possessions, eight tackles) and Josh Caddy (26 touches and a goal) were all magnificent.
North will meet Sydney in next Friday night's First Preliminary Final in a bid to make its first Grand Final since 1999. However, it looks like they will do so without Brent Harvey who was given a week's suspension after a head clash with Joel Selwood during Friday night's game. For Geelong, the first team to be eliminated in 'straight sets' since West Coast in 2007, speculation about the end of an era will be rife throughout the 2014-15 off-season. Whether Chris Scott can maintain the Cats as a top-four side in 2015 remains to be seen.
Geelong: Hawkins 5; Walker 3; Duncan, Caddy, Blicavs, Enright, Bartel
North Melbourne: Petrie 4; Thomas 3; Ziebell 2; Turner, Goldstein, Harvey, Black, Dal Santo
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
Geelong: Hawkins, Selwood, Caddy, Walker
North Melbourne: Goldstein, Dal Santo, Gibson, Petrie, Cunnington, McDonald
BEST - THE AGE
Geelong: Selwood, Caddy, Hawkins, Enright, Walker, Duncan
North Melbourne: Dal Santo, Gibson, Goldstein, Petrie, Thomas, Wright, Cunnington, Greenwood, McDonald
Geelong: Rivers (calf)
North Melbourne: Macmillan (hamstring)
Geelong: Jackson Thurlow replaced by Lincoln McCarthy in the third quarter
North Melbourne: Jamie Macmillan replaced by Ryan Bastinac in the third quarter
UMPIRES: Nicholls, Meredith, Pannell
TELEVISION BROADCAST: Seven Network
COMMENTATORS: Bruce McAvaney, Dennis Cometti, Leigh Matthews, Tom Harley, Wayne Carey, Matthew Richardson, Tim Watson
Video sourced from YouTube, courtesy of AFL Media.
|3||Bartel, Jimmy||10||4||4||14||1||1||0||3||1||2||30y 282d||272||191|
|46||Blicavs, Mark||4||3||5||9||1||0||22||6||2||2||23y 168d||45||12|
|1||Brown, Mitch||7||5||3||10||0||0||1||4||0||0||24y 15d||15||9|
|23||Caddy, Josh||13||5||13||26||1||2||1||1||0||1||21y 349d||58||39|
|22||Duncan, Mitch||11||5||9||20||1||0||0||5||0||0||23y 94d||100||87|
|44||Enright, Corey||11||6||4||15||1||0||0||0||1||2||32y 363d||288||62|
|29||Guthrie, Cameron||5||1||7||12||0||0||0||6||2||3||22y 24d||64||10|
|26||Hawkins, Tom||15||13||3||18||5||3||0||1||1||0||26y 53d||147||286|
|33||Horlin-Smith, George||4||1||6||10||0||0||0||3||1||0||21y 264d||32||18|
|9||Kelly, James||6||2||3||9||0||0||0||2||1||0||30y 257d||256||87|
|13||Lonergan, Tom||6||3||3||9||0||0||0||3||1||1||30y 118d||145||52|
|4||Mackie, Andrew||14||7||4||18||0||0||0||0||1||0||30y 36d||220||90|
|6||McCarthy, Lincoln||3||0||3||6||0||1||0||1||0||0||20y 325d||5||0|
|32||Motlop, Steven||11||4||3||14||0||2||0||1||0||1||23y 184d||68||89|
|21||Murdoch, Jordan||3||2||4||7||0||0||0||2||1||0||22y 173d||42||37|
|25||Rivers, Jared||6||4||4||10||0||1||0||1||1||0||29y 329d||182||18|
|14||Selwood, Joel||14||5||10||24||0||0||0||8||5||2||26y 109d||184||115|
|27||Stokes, Mathew||7||2||5||12||0||0||0||2||1||1||29y 294d||175||199|
|7||Taylor, Harry||7||4||3||10||0||0||0||1||0||0||28y 92d||159||40|
|40||Thurlow, Jackson||2||0||3||5||0||0||0||1||0||1||20y 168d||10||4|
|5||Varcoe, Travis||9||2||5||14||0||0||0||5||1||1||26y 155d||138||130|
|34||Walker, Josh||5||4||2||7||3||1||7||3||0||2||21y 304d||17||16|
|North Melbourne||Match Stats||Career|
|18||Atley, Shaun||4||2||5||9||0||0||0||2||1||0||21y 364d||85||10|
|3||Bastinac, Ryan||2||1||0||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||23y 82d||103||58|
|35||Black, Aaron||7||4||4||11||1||3||0||2||1||0||23y 287d||46||63|
|50||Brown, Ben||4||3||4||8||0||1||0||4||0||2||21y 296d||10||16|
|10||Cunnington, Ben||7||1||15||22||0||0||0||3||0||4||23y 74d||98||42|
|15||Dal Santo, Nick||22||8||13||35||1||0||1||4||2||0||30y 202d||284||149|
|11||Firrito, Michael||8||2||5||13||0||0||0||3||0||0||30y 289d||229||29|
|43||Gibson, Sam||17||8||18||35||0||0||0||5||1||0||28y 108d||59||22|
|22||Goldstein, Todd||8||4||7||15||1||1||54||5||2||1||26y 73d||124||58|
|24||Greenwood, Levi||14||5||8||22||0||1||0||5||0||0||25y 205d||73||25|
|17||Grima, Nathan||10||3||3||13||0||0||0||1||0||0||29y 38d||85||1|
|29||Harvey, Brent||14||2||11||25||1||0||0||3||3||1||36y 121d||383||457|
|34||Macmillan, Jamie||1||0||4||5||0||0||0||1||0||0||22y 354d||64||26|
|21||McDonald, Luke||11||6||9||20||0||0||0||1||1||1||19y 215d||22||0|
|20||Petrie, Drew||11||7||2||13||4||4||0||2||3||0||31y 332d||268||356|
|9||Swallow, Andrew||9||4||12||21||0||0||0||4||0||3||27y 102d||163||72|
|12||Thomas, Lindsay||8||3||1||9||3||3||0||1||0||2||26y 195d||152||249|
|16||Thompson, Scott||10||6||7||17||0||0||0||3||1||2||28y 126d||135||6|
|40||Turner, Kayne||3||2||5||8||1||0||0||9||2||1||18y 255d||5||8|
|8||Wells, Daniel||11||5||11||22||0||0||0||1||1||2||29y 221d||221||145|
|19||Wright, Sam||12||5||9||21||0||0||0||1||1||0||24y 59d||83||54|
|7||Ziebell, Jack||10||6||3||13||2||0||0||8||0||1||23y 196d||99||57|