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Third-quarter blitz sees Cats past Giants and into prelim

Third-quarter blitz sees Cats past Giants and into prelim

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A run of five unanswered goals in the third quarter has seen Geelong run away from Greater Western Sydney and book their spot in the preliminary finals with a 35-point win.

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A furious fightback from the Giants early in the fourth quarter was enough to get Chris Scott sweating, but Tom Hawkins kicked three of his five goals in the crucial final term to end the Giants’ season and set up a rematch with Melbourne in a preliminary final next week.

It won’t go down as the most entertaining match of the 2021 finals series – both sides were rusty in the first half and missed gettable chances.

The Giants, already feeling the loss of the suspended Toby Greene, were rocked in the lead-up after Jesse Hogan was a late withdrawal with a tight calf.

Jeremy Cameron had an early opportunity to stick it to his old side when he ran onto a loose ball at full forward, but it took a crooked bounce and he ended up colliding with the post – much to the delight of the away cheer squad.

Isaac Smith, Zach Sproule and Jacob Hopper all traded behinds in the early going. Cameron should have set up Sam Menegola for the first goal of the evening with a superb centreing kick – but the midfielder missed the simple set shot.

Cameron was involved again early after Harry Perryman got physical with him before a stoppage – but the ex-Giant had the last laugh as he was able to kick the first goal 12 minutes in.

Jake Stein was pinged for an arm chop in the forward pocket on his ex-teammate and the 2019 Coleman medallist snapped the free kick truly.

The Cats did some fierce defending over the next few minutes to keep the Giants off the scoreboard, before snaring a late one thanks to Zach Tuohy’s perfect long kick on the run to Brad Close in the goal square.

That saw Geelong head to the quarter time break with a 14-point lead – but they lost Brandan Parfitt to a hamstring injury during the break.

The Giants were on the back foot early in the second quarter and did well to repel some forays forward, before finally landing their first goal of the evening thanks to a great running shot from Josh Kelly.

Connor Stone then had the Giants back within a kick after sending a superb snap through the big sticks in just his fifth game.

Tom Hawkins was able to register Geelong’s first of the quarter with a quick snap over the mark while the defenders were setting up.

The match then became an arm wrestle once more, with the next goal not coming until there was less than five minutes remaining through a superb pack mark and goal by Esava Ratugolea.

Hawkins found himself in the umpire’s – and Giants’ – bad books with a clumsy swinging arm on Lachie Whitfield that gave away a 50-metre penalty.

But it was the Cats who were able to respond the scoreboard again with Cameron nailing his second from an excellent kick around the body just inside 50.

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An instant reply from Jake Lloyd got the Giants back and the first half ended with the Cats up by 15.

The second half started perfectly for GWS, with Bobby Hill putting forward a candidate for goal of the finals with a sublime drop punt on the run from a very tight angle.

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Gary Rohan was able to put the Cats back out by 15 in reply though after he was the recipient of a free kick inside 50. Hawkins kicked his second a few minutes later to give Geelong a commanding 21-point advantage.

Max Holmes should have put his side further ahead, but his fresh-air swing in the goal square put him on the blooper reel instead of the scoresheet.

Rohan’s second of the quarter soon after, however, gave Geelong a very strong 26-point lead, before Isaac Smith’s easy snap from a forward stoppage made it 32 in the blink of an eye.

Sam Menegola threw a speculative snap kick on the boot from a forward stoppage with just over a minute to go – and it sailed through easily to give the Cats a huge 38-point lead.

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Shane Mumford, of all people, took a great slips catch in the forward pocket in the dying seconds and converted the set shot after the siren to give the Giants a pulse.

But Close’s second goal inside the first minute of the last looked to have put the comeback to bed, but three quick goals to Nick Haynes, Stone and Callan Ward had GWS back within 20 points with plenty of time remaining.

Hawkins stepped up from there, however, kicking Geelong’s next three goals to restablish the 30+ point barrier and officially punch their ticket to the preliminary final.

Full time

Geelong Cats – 15.13 (103)
GWS Giants – 10.8 (68)

Goals

Cats: Hawkins 4, Cameron 2, Rohan 2, Close 2, Menegola 2, Ratogolea, Smith
Giants: Stone 2, Himmelberg 2, Kelly, Lloyd, Hill, Mumford, Haynes, Ward

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