Cats sneak home in cracker as Lions’ winless streak in Geelong continues



Tom Hawkins has kicked five goals to help Geelong extend their 19-year home winning streak against Brisbane with a tense 10-point victory.

Isaac Smith starred on a wing as the Cats won the territory battle on Friday night but wasted a string of chances in front of goal in a high-intensity contest.

It almost cost them as the Lions twice snatched the lead during a see-sawing third quarter and were level in the last when Charlie Cameron kicked the second of his two brilliant second-half goals.

But goals to Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron in a low-scoring final term got the Cats over the line, winning 11.14 (80) to 11.4 (70) at Kardinia Park.

The result means Geelong have joined the Lions with a 3-1 record ahead of their Easter Monday clash with traditional rivals Hawthorn.

There was a sour note for the Cats when Quinton Narkle had to be helped off with an ankle injury during the third quarter.

Narkle was a late in inclusion when Geelong lost ruck-forward Esava Ratugolea (ankle) and star defender Tom Stewart (gastro) before the match.

Stewart had been in line to captain the Cats in the absence of record-breaking skipper Joel Selwood, who was rested, but the duty instead fell to co-vice captain Patrick Dangerfield.

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Lachie Neale copped the Mark O’Connor tag but it didn’t overly concern Brisbane’s Brownlow medallist, who had an influence in traffic with 30 disposals, 21 contested possessions and 11 clearances.

Tall duo Joe Daniher and Daniel McStay kicked three majors each for the visitors.

Smith (29 disposals), Mark Blicavs (22) and Brandan Parfitt (22) were all important contributors for Geelong.

Fireworks lit up the sky as the Cats ran through the banner for their first home game of the season — their first in front of an unrestricted crowd since 2019.

But there were few real sparks in a metaphorical sense, the likes of which had littered several recent meetings between two sides that had developed a fierce on-field rivalry.

It was a tough but clean contest that went goal for goal through the opening 50 minutes of play as Brisbane answered each of Geelong’s first six majors with one of their own.

The Cats blew chances, missing five set shots at goal on their way to a nine-point lead at the main break.

Both sides moved the ball with speed and the lead changed hands three times in the third term as Brisbane outscored their hosts 4.0 to 2.2 despite a 6-20 deficit in forward-50 entries.

The trend continued with Geelong wasting shots at goal before Hawkins ultimately gave them breathing space with a strong mark and goal at the 19-minute mark of the last quarter.

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