Geelong coach Chris Scott has described the emphatic 68-point semi-final win over Collingwood as the team’s best performance of the year as they advanced to another preliminary final.
The Cats wiped Collingwood off the park, setting up the win in the first half when they stormed to a 54-point lead at half-time.
They held the Magpies to only one goal for the first three quarters, amassed 156 more disposals than their opponents, took 134 marks to Collingwood’s 46 and won 15.10 (100) to 5.2.(32).
Scott said it was hard to find a better Geelong performance this year given the stakes.
“We were pretty close to our best,” Scott said.
“There’s a resolve within our group to find a way to try to play better and if we do that we will be hard to beat.”
The win came after a week of high scrutiny where Geelong’s finals record since the 2011 premiership was put under the microscope.
But Geelong’s big names all stood up. Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins kicked four goals each, Mitch Duncan collected 30 disposals, Joel Selwood led strongly after recovering from finger surgery while Tom Stewart and Lachie Henderson combined for 28 marks in defence.
Scott denied the explosive first half was a sign Geelong arrived at the Gabba with a point to prove.
“I doubt it. That certainly wasn’t the sense that I got,” Scott said.
“I think you’d be surprised how little some people, including me hear about that stuff. You’re obviously aware of criticism when it comes but that’s the business you’re in.”
Previous matches between Geelong and Collingwood have been defensive slogs but the Cats kicked 100 points against the Magpies for just the second time since the 2011 grand final. They achieved that despite playing with reduced quarter lengths this season.
They held Collingwood’s to the club’s lowest half-time finals score since 1960 and four of the Magpies’ goals came in the final term when the result was beyond doubt.
Scott said that defensive effort was one of the highlights of the game.
“Given the pattern of previous years it was one of the challenges we spent a lot of time on going into the game,” he said.
“We wanted to set it up so we could score more but given the games had been so low scoring against Collingwood in the past, we didn’t want to run the risk that we tried so hard to score that we gave them some really easy looks the other way.
“As much as us getting away to a lead in the first half was important, I thought defensively we were really strong as well. Good teams at the end of the year defend really well.”
The football world will get to see at least one more game from Gary Ablett and he could still finish his career with the dream of another grand final. He wasn’t prolific with possessions but his ball use set him apart like it has for his entire career. Ablett had a hand in two of Geelong’s first quarter goals. He made things happen early.
Mason Cox cops a lot of criticism but he followed up his superb final against West Coast with some fantastic bravery. He ignored the scoreboard and ran back with the flight of the ball during the third term. The result was a brutal knee to the midriff from Mark Blicavs. It was a painful finish to the season for the American ruckman.