Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Tom Hawkins kicked five goals to enter the Coleman Medal conversation and Gary Rohan added four goals of his own as Geelong crushed St Kilda by 59 points in a Monday night AFL blockbuster at the Gabba in Brisbane.
In the 14.9 (93) to 4.10 (34) percentage-booster – where the Cats pounded home seven goals after halftime, while restricting the Saints to a mere four points – Geelong supplants St Kilda into third place on the AFL ladder on percentage, while the Saints dropped down to fifth.
“We set ourselves up well for this one. We played some great footy. We controlled the ball quite well, and our scoring efficiency served us well, too,” Cats on-baller Patrick Dangerfield said afterwards.
Geelong hopes to continue its ascent up the AFL ladder in playing top-of-the-ladder Port Adelaide in another blockbuster in their next match on Friday night.
Playing for the second time in five days, come Friday night, does not phase the Cats, given their depth creating competition for places in coach Chris Scott’s first 22, in addition to the whole team playing with confidence, style, and form that has seen them winning three of their last four games.
“With these really short turnarounds, we have about five or six players who will be fighting for spots. We have lots of speed and skill out on the paddock, and we will have players who will play Friday [against Port Adelaide] who didn’t play tonight,” said Dangerfield.
Geelong brought in Rohan, Jake Kolodjashnij and Brandan Parfitt as reinforcements within Scott’s squad system rotations during this spell of AFL fixture congestion, while St Kilda coach Brett Ratten – whose team had won four in a row entering the match – gave a recall to club captain Jarryn Geary after missing out on last week’s win over Gold Coast.
However, Ratten’s preparations were dealt a blow with the late withdrawal of star ruckman Paddy Ryder, thereby giving Geelong’s Rhys Stanley a golden opportunity to dominate in dictating the contests after his impressive display against North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein last Wednesday.
The opening term did not lack for quality goalkicking, with Saints midfielder Ed Phillips’s brace of majors cancelling out openers by Sam Menegola and Hawkins for the Cats. However, the same kind of inaccuracies that Scott bemoaned about after Geelong’s win over the Kangaroos crept back into the picture, with Dangerfield, Stanley and Rohan all missing makeable set shots.
Those profligate misses, such as they were, gave the Cats their three-point quarter-time advantage.
However, the Cats came out strong after the first break, with Rohan making amends for his after-the-siren miss with a brilliant running goal along the right-hand boundary in the second term’s opening minute, and then layed on from just inside 50 for Hawkins’s second goal moments later, to give the Cats a 15-point lead.
When Jack Billings kicked the Saints’ third goal eight minutes into the term, his teammates sprung into action and were unlucky not to have another couple of goals within a matter of minutes. But as Geary and Max King missed in front of goal, Rohan punished the Saints’ misses by kicking his second goal of the quarter from a free kick.
Rohan got his hat-trick for the quarter benefitting from his teammates’ rapid ball movement, converting from in close off another set shot to stake the Cats to a 12-point lead with six minutes to go before halftime.
Geelong took a 17-point lead into the change rooms at the main break when Hawkins, at the receiving end of a Dangerfield spearing kick inside 50, kicked his third goal for the match to extend the Cats lead.
Following the long break, the Cats proceeded to turn on the style, outscoring the Saints four goals to none for the third quarter to put some further breathing space onto their lead.
Menegola – dangerous at both ends of the ground, finishing with 26 disposals and 11 marks – opened the onslaught and joined the Cats’ club of multiple goalkickers by converting directly in front from just above shoelace level four minutes in to extend Geelong’s lead to four straight kicks.
St Kilda were needing goals to stay in touch, but Geelong continued to commit themselves to contests and possession that translated into denying the Saints any desperate and much-needed opportunities.
Zach Tuohy was next to kick a goal, marking strongly in addition to applying stellar tackles, and the Irishman from County Laois kicked straight and true for the Cats’ second of the term and ninth goal on the evening.
The Cats, leading by a comfortable 31 points at this point, were continuing to make things look easy, especially when Hawkins swept a soccer off the ground from captain Joel Selwood’s irresistible service for his fourth goal.
Dangerfield also got a rub of the green to kick his first goal for the Cats’ next goal, his outside 50 set shot barrel bouncing over a Stanley shepherd – and the Cats were running riot to the tune of a 41-point lead heading into the last break.
The Cats began the final term with as much full flow as ever, with the free-wheeling Tuohy intercepting easily along the boundary five minutes in and kicking goalwards for Mitch Duncan to provide the final touch easily.
The Saints were looking to restore some much-needed morale, but after their third gilt-edged miss for the term, Hawkins would play on at the other end to boot his fifth goal on the night, drawing level with West Coast’s Josh Kennedy atop the Coleman Medal leaderboard on 24 goals for the season.
Rohan would add his fourth, and the Cats’ seventh after halftime, goal after the siren to complete the rout, and send a message to Port Adelaide to be ready for an almighty challenge on Friday night.