Geelong coach Chris Scott says the Cats passed a big test of character as they snapped a two-game losing streak with a 10-point AFL win over the brave GWS Giants at Simonds Stadium.
After seven lead changes in the opening three quarters, it was the Cats’ big guns who stood tall in the closing stages as the home side won 14.14 (98) to 14.4 (88)
Skipper Joel Selwood had 12 of his 29 disposals in the final term, while Tom Hawkins kicked two late goals, including a 50m bomb to stretch the margin back to 10 points.
“We love players that go back in the big moments and stand up,” said Scott.
“He’s been doing the work, he’s got a good technique and it’s not as if he’s had a shocking run with his goalkicking – he’s just been a part of our goalkicking problems.
“That shot was a really important one tonight.
“But the pattern is clear. We had 28 shots but only won by a couple of goals so we need to improve there.”
The home side also dominated the inside-50 count 76-48.
“I was proud of the way we hung in there and hung in there and hung in there and gave ourselves a massive chance halfway through the last quarter,” said GWS coach Leon Cameron.
“But we had some little brain fades and didn’t do the right thing at the right time.”
Those brain fades included two successive 50m penalties against GWS early in the final term which gifted goals to Hawkins and Selwood.
Zac Smith was clearly the best ruckman on the ground, while Geelong’s key backmen Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan proved way too good for the Giants’ young attacking stars Jeremy Cameron and Jonathan Patton in difficult, slippery conditions.
The Giants had great returns from midfielders Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield and Stephen Coniglio.
Former Cats star Steve Johnson could not have made a better start on his return to Simonds Stadium in Giants colours.
The mercurial forward had kicked 452 goals in his decorated 253-game spell with the Cats but few of them would have been better than his flying snap from tight on the boundary in the right forward pocket in the fifth minute of Saturday’s clash.
“He wants to win and I want our players to believe like he believes,” said Leon Cameron.
“That’s the next step for our players – that they believe they do belong playing against these really good sides.
“If you don’t believe, then that’s why you fumble, that’s why you make poor decisions around the footy and that’s why you miss goals when you should kick goals.”
It was a crucial victory for Geelong, who had dropped their previous two games to Collingwood and Carlton. They have improved their win-loss record to 8-3.
The Giants have slipped to 7-4 before next weekend’s Sydney derby against the Swans at Spotless Stadium.
The Cats’ next three matches are at Etihad Stadium against North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda.