West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui put on a star display as the Eagles came from 22 points down to beat Geelong by nine points in Perth on Saturday night.
Geelong have held North Melbourne to the lowest score in the Kangaroos’ 95-year VFL/AFL history to win by 55 points at GMHBA Stadium and regain top spot on the ladder.
The Cats have been well below their best since the mid-season bye – winning four of eight games – and they didn’t reach any great heights on Saturday night either.
But they were still way too good for the dreadfully disappointing Kangaroos in a 9.15 (69) to 1.8 (14) victory.
Scoreboard-shy North Melbourne’s only goal came via a free kick from ruckman Todd Goldstein early in the second term.
Their previous lowest tally was 2.7 (19) way back in 1930 – also against the Cats.
Geelong will be guaranteed the minor premiership if they win their remaining two home-and-away games against the Brisbane Lions and Carlton.
Playing his first senior match of the year, livewire Quinton Narkle kicked two spectacular goals and had 21 possessions, while small forward Gryan Miers continued to impress with a game-high three majors.
Mitch Duncan marked his 200th AFL game with 27 disposals.
Two days after announcing his retirement at season’s end, veteran defender Scott Thompson was probably North Melbourne’s best player, even though he sat out the last quarter due to injury.
The first half was a hugely forgettable affair with the Cats managing just three goals while holding the Kangaroos to a solitary major to lead by 16 points at the long break.
And neither side could use the weather as an excuse, with the forecast rain staying away until the final quarter.
First-year forward Miers booted two of the Cats’ three first-half goals.
Spearhead Tom Hawkins kicked the home team’s other goal after being paid a mark at the top of the goal square despite appearing to fumble the ball.
The Cats at least were better in the second half, while the Kangaroos slipped even further.
Forward Mason Wood had the chance to kick a goal in the dying minutes which would have at least let the Kangaroos avoid the ignominy of their lowest score.
Somewhat fittingly, he butchered the shot, spraying it out of bounds on the full.
Geelong went into the match without a recognised ruckman after late withdrawal Zac Smith was replaced by tall defender Lachie Henderson.