GEELONG 12.15 (87)
NORTH BALLARAT 8.14 (62)
North Ballarat Roosters had competition heavyweight Geelong looking rattled, despite a 25-point loss, at the Cattery on Sunday afternoon.
The Selkirk Roosters' tackling intensity nullfied the Cats' trademark smooth approach and, until almost 28 minutes into the final term, the match could have gone either way.
Three Cats' goals deep in junk time - two to Jackson Hollmer, one to former North Ballarat Rebel Matt Sully - delivered the Cats a victory.
North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow made his much-anticipated return from Achilles surgery via North Ballarat Roosters with 23 disposals in the opening three quarters.
Word from the Kangaroos camp was the skipper survived unscathed but was keen to test how he pulled up.
Fellow Kangaroosters Liam Anthony and Ben Jacobs got plenty of the ball with 33 disposals each.
Roosters Nick Peters (24 disposals) and Nick Rippon (23) were both relentless on the ball.
American Eric Wallace dominated in the ruck and even had Cats fans cheering with his impressive strength in the marking contest.
Wallace booted the goal, after reeling in a formidable grab in the goal square, that put the Roosters within nine points at the 20-minute mark of the final term.
The Roosters had led by 10 points at half-time before the Cats clawed back in the third.
Geelong Cats 3.2 3.7 7.11 12.15 (87)
North Ballarat 1.3 5.5 5.9 8.14 (62)
GOALS- Geelong Cats: Hollmer 3 Sully 3 Brown 2 Maas Bews Banjanin Herbison. North Ballarat: Couch 2 George Staley Wallace Wilkins Anthony Dumont.
BEST -Geelong Cats: Lang Sully Stringer Gleeson Jansen Hamling.
North Ballarat: Anthony Jacobs Boseley Kiel Dumont Rippon.