The first quarter was similar to Round 1 in a lot of ways. Ben Brown kicked the first goal of the game, only this time North Melbourne took their opportunities and made the Cats pay for a sluggish start. Braydon Pruess (late inclusion for Todd Goldstein) gave the North midfield first hands on the ball with his quality tap work. Shaun Higgins showed his quality, getting eight possessions and giving the team much-needed class. Ben Cunnington was also brilliant in close, getting the ball to the outside runners with his quick hands. North held a 26 point lead at quarter time and Geelong looked ordinary.
The second quarter showed a lack of discipline which allowed Geelong back in the game. A couple of 50-metre penalties, an undisciplined kick out from Marley Williams, a Braydon Pruess report and Geelong got themselves back into the game. The Roos fought back after Geelong's initial onslaught and steadied the ship to go goal for goal the rest of the half. The Roos led by six points at half-time.
The third quarter started the way the game did and North kicked the first five of the first six goals to get the lead out to 32 points. The midfield was brilliant and led the term with seven centre clearances to Geelong's three. It put the Geelong backline under huge pressure and was struggling to withstand the heat with constant turnovers. They were able to steady in the second half of the quarter with Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins up forward keeping them in the game. A goal at the three-quarter time siren from Hawkins brought the margin back to 26 points, which gave the Cats a glimmer of hope and proved crucial in the end.
The first 5-10 minutes of the last quarter was always going to be crucial and Geelong came out breathing fire. Dangerfield started getting on the outside with Selwood, with both players ending the quarter on 11 possessions a piece. They also got contributions from Mitch Duncan, Zac Tuohy and Darcy Lang who also kicked a crucial goal in the last quarter. After scores were tied, Marley Williams kicked a running goal from outside 50 for North's only goal of the quarter to give the Roos the lead again. The Cats continued to press and with a minute left in the game got their rewards after a clumsy high tackle from Pruess gave Horlin-Smith a chance to win the game. He went back calmly from 40 metres out and slotted through the match-winning goal. It was pure heartbreak. Geelong only led the game for the last 60 seconds. North who done so much right for the first three quarters had nothing left in the last. They gave everything they had and came up short against a team that will be happy to walk away with the four points after being well below its best for most of the game.
Aaron Mullet: 4/10
Was okay, without being good. It's a big year for "Fishy" and he needs to find that consistency during games if he's going to be an AFL player for years to come.
Lachlan Hansen: 6/10
Gave Harry Taylor a touch up in the first half and had a couple of good intercept marks. Has been in the system for ten years and is becoming very reliable as that second or third tall in the backline.
Jamie McMillan: 5/10
Had a solid game and set up a few plays from the back half. Becoming a smart player who reads the game very well. I think he can be better and will be better going forward.
Marley Williams: 6/10
Kept Lincoln McCarthy quiet and almost won the game with a running goal. Not only did he kick that goal but had a great smother 30 seconds later to stop a goal scoring opportunity. Gives everything he has got and doesn't leave anything out on the field.
Scott Thompson: 1/10
Had an absolute shocker for the second week in a row. Struggled one on one against Daniel Menzel and to make things worse, gave a cheap shot to Dangerfield in the second quarter which resulted in a suspension. Out of contract at the end of the year and is at the crossroads. Needs to find form and confidence soon, otherwise, this will be his last year.
Robbie Tarrant: 6/10
Gave the team a lot of drive in the back half with 28 possessions, including 13 in the last quarter. Had a great match-up with Hawkins who kicked four goals. Worked tirelessly throughout the game to not only try and quell Hawkins but help his teammates with third man ups in the contest.
Lindsay Thomas: 4/10
Got six of his nine possessions in the third quarter and kicked two goals that quarter as well. Really needed him to stand up in the last quarter but didn't get to enough contests. I'd expect a better game against GWS this week, although that might difficult.
Luke McDonald: 5/10
Started on the wing and kicked a nice goal early. Really gut runs to a lot of contests. May even spend time in the midfield as the year goes on.
Sam Gibson: 7/10
Runs from one wing to the other constantly, creating space and a link up option for his team-mates. Kicked a great goal in the second quarter against the flow as well. A real leader of this club now.
Braydon Pruess: 7/10
Considering it was his second AFL game, he was brilliant, except for a couple of silly blunders. Gave first use to the midfield with his dominant tap work. Might struggle to keep his spot in the team with Goldstein back next week.
Ben Cunnington: 7/10
He showed us what we missed last week. Was able to get inside and spread the ball outside for the runners. Had 21 handballs, seven tackles and nine clearances. Looks a lot trimmer this year as well. Hopefully, this is a real breakout year, particularly after a disappointing 2016 by his standards.
Trent Dumont: 5/10
He got a lot of the ball but only went at 58 percent efficiency. Also had 11 possessions in the third quarter when North went on a run. Fits the mould of the other midfielders in the team where he doesn't use the ball well by foot.
Majak Daw: 4/10
Took some nice contested marks and executed some nice taps in the ruck as well. It's either him or Pruess that misses out this week with Goldy back.
Ben Brown: 6/10
Provided a real target up forward and crashes the pack hard. Ran under the ball a few times but finds it tough with some of the delivery. Kicked three goals and provided two assists.
Shaun Atley: 6/10
He had a more consistent game and was in the game for the whole four quarters. Is one of the few players that provides real dash through the middle and uses the ball well by foot. Hopefully, he can maintain that consistency throughout the game going forward.
Jack Ziebell: 3/10
Had a really poor game. Only got 14 possessions and that included a howler of a turnover in the third quarter that gave Dangerfield a goal. Looked a little injured in the game, so he might be carrying something. We need more from the skipper.
Kayne Turner: 5/10
Only had the nine possessions again this week. Kicked two goals and did his job in that regard. Cameron Zurhaar is knocking on the door if he has a couple of lean weeks.
Nathan Hrovat: 4/10
Had a good last quarter when things were going against the Roos, including a really good handball in the middle of the ground to set up a scoring opportunity. Didn't have a score or assist in the game, which is disappointing for a half-forward.
Taylor Garner: 4/10
First game back after a lengthy 12-month injury. He'll be better for the run and took some nice marks in the game. Kicked a goal also.
Jy Simpkin: 4/10
Kicked a nice goal in the third quarter and also had a couple of really good moments in the same period. Will only get better with more games.
Andrew Swallow: 2/10
Only had 11 possessions and didn't touch the ball when we needed him the most in the last quarter. I thought he might have got injured, but there was no report of an injury and also only went at 55 percent disposal efficiency. North need more from the former captain.
Shaun Higgins: 8/10
He was best on ground at three-quarter time. Was absolutely brilliant with 27 possessions, nine inside 50s, 12 score involvements and 813 metres gained (Dangerfield 457 metres gained). A class act and will have a big year if he stays fit.
3. S. Higgins
2. B. Cunnington
1. B. Pruess
6. S. Higgins
2. T. Goldstein
2. B. Cunnington
1. J. Ziebell
1. B. Pruess