And with some space in which to work his magic, the giant Welsh wing set off on a blistering run that forever scribed his name in Lions folklore.
First he eluded Pat McCabe's initial tackle, then James O'Connor's tap tackle before leaving Barnes trailing in his wake with a superb sidestep - and the tryline was soon beckoning.
"When the ball dropped out of the sky my first thought was just to run," said North, who fielded Australia full-back Berrick Barnes' kick before leaving the Wallabies' defence for dead.
"Luckily, I saw a gap and I just went for it. It opened up for me, and I can't begin to tell you how good it felt when I crossed that line.
"It was an unbelievable feeling. We won and I got my first (Lions) Test try. It doesn't get much better than that."
After breezing past Barnes, nothing was going to stop North and while Genia refused to give up the chase, North even had time for a bit of showmanship towards the Qantas Wallabies scrum-half - something he later admitted to regretting
"I've had a few words from various people. I've apologised and can't really explain what I did," said the 21-year-old.
"I got caught up in the emotion of the try. Looking back I feel horrendous for doing it now. I'll have to live with that and take it on the chin.
"I've had big words from (tour manager) Andy Irvine, which was fun. Rugby's a gentleman's game and that shouldn't be involved in the game.
"Andy said that to me and I knew it as soon as I'd done it. It's very difficult to explain your emotions when you've scored a try.
"I know it was out of line with sportsmanship and rugby and feel terrible for that.
"I've had a lot of stick from the boys for doing that and am pretty sure it will go on for a while longer."
North's try gave the Lions the lead for the first time in the match and crucially ensured they went into half-time ahead, before Kurtley Beale's infamous missed kicks saw the tourists strike first blood in the series.
And for that, he can be forgiven his celebratory indiscretion, especially after showing such contrition.