Cats write new chapter in another MCG classic against Hawks

GEELONG’S premiership window remains wide open after a stirring 19-point victory over arch-rival Hawthorn at the MCG on Easter Monday that leaves it as 2014’s only undefeated team.

Tom Hawkins marks over Josh Gibson and Kyle Cheney during the Easter Monday clash

The Cats and Hawks have waged one of modern football’s fiercest rivalries over the past six years and, as has so often been the case, Monday’s game was an arm wrestle played with a finals-like intensity.
The Cats led at every change, but despite having the best of general play in the opening three terms, were never able to extend their lead beyond 13 points in that time.
The Hawks then threatened to steal a remarkable comeback win when they kicked the first two goals of the final quarter to turn an eight-point three-quarter time deficit into a five-point lead.
But with Tom Hawkins back to his rampaging best up forward, the Cats were able to hit back, regaining the lead through the first of Hawkins’ three final-term goals and then running over the top of the Hawks to seal a 15.16 (106) to 12.15 (87) win. ‘Tomahawk’ was outstanding for the Cats, finishing with five goals and seven contested marks, but Steve Johnson was even better with 34 possessions through the midfield and kicking three goals of his own.
The Hawks’ comeback win in last year’s preliminary final broke a Geelong streak of 11 consecutive wins that dated back to round one, 2009.
But the Cats quickly signalled on Monday that the death of the ‘Kennett curse’ would not mark a new era of Hawthorn dominance.
Geelong pressured Hawthorn from the opening bounce, with defensive intensity that ensured the Hawks could not move the ball with their usual clinical precision. But while the Cats had the better of general play, the Hawks were able to hang in there, defending gamely as the Cats struggled at times to convert strings of opportunities in front of goal.
Ruckman Hamish McIntosh played his best game for Geelong, his strong marking in attack giving the Cats another valuable option in attack.
Key defender Harry Taylor also kept Hawk spearhead Jarryd Roughead goalless, while Jimmy Bartel had 25 telling possessions for the Cats.
For the Hawks, former skipper Sam Mitchell drove their engine room once again, Grant Birchall gave a lot of drive from defence and forwards Luke Breust and Jack Gunston kicked three goals apiece.
Young run-with midfielder Will Langford also did a commendable job on Cats skipper Joel Selwood, keeping the early Brownlow Medal fancy to eight possessions in the first half and 20 for the match.
GEELONG   3.5   6.9   9.14   15.16 (106)
HAWTHORN   3.2   5.9   8.12   12.15 (87)  
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Johnson 3, Murdoch 2, Enright 2, Varcoe, Guthrie, McIntosh
Hawthorn: Breust 3, Gunston 3, Hallahan, Rioli, Duryea, Hale, McEvoy, Smith
Geelong: Johnson, Hawkins, McIntosh, Bartel, Duncan, Rivers, Selwood
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Gunston, Breust, Birchall, Simpkin, Hill
Geelong: Stokes (eye)
Hawthorn: Nil
Geelong: Jackson Sheringham replaced Andrew Mackie at three-quarter time
Hawthorn: Mitch Hallahan replaced Ben McEvoy at three-quarter time
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Chamberlain, Meredith, Ryan
Official crowd: 80,222 at the MCG