Milestone man Harry Taylor called it a miracle, while coach Chris Scott was puzzled but pleased as Geelong staggered into the AFL’s top four.
The Cats piled on six consecutive goals in the fourth term to pip Richmond by four points at the MCG on Sunday, doing enough in one quarter to rise above Greater Western Sydney and claim fourth spot on the ladder.
Scott’s side triumphed 10.22 (82) to 12.6 (78) in what looked like being their worst performance of the season at three-quarter time.
The Tigers held a 35-point lead and all the momentum at the final break, having restricted a fumbling and stagnant Geelong outfit to just 4.13.
Fifteen consecutive scoring shots from the Cats followed, with defenders Taylor and Lachie Henderson thrown forward by Scott.
Taylor celebrated his 200th game with a clutch goal, putting the Cats in front for the first time since the opening term.
“Miracle is a good way to put it,” Taylor said of the club’s 15th win for the year.
“It was just an amazing game to be a part of … that was my first (goal) for the year.
“Our first half, we could not have played much worse.”
Geelong failed to shake their case of the yips, managing 6.9 in the fourth term, but created so many opportunities it didn’t matter.
The Cats moved the ball with the pace and precision that had been missing in the first three terms, with superstar Patrick Dangerfield among many Cats to lift.
“We were in trouble,” Scott said.
“We were playing a really high-stakes game for us and it was some of our worst footy for the first three quarters.
“We’d prefer to play really well .. but in some ways it’s more satisfying to be playing poorly and be able to arrest the situation.”
The Cats, who face Brisbane and Melbourne in the final two rounds, are well placed to secure a coveted double chance in the finals.
“We’re not getting carried away with the win because for the most part we played poorly,” Scott said.
The match was in the balance up until the final siren.
Tigers forward Jack Riewoldt was unable to reel in a spectacular mark in the final seconds that would have given the 200-gamer a chance to snatch victory.
“It would have been great to win for Jack and it’s disappointing … their work rate and intensity lifted and we just couldn’t match it,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood – they rose to the occasion. There’s a reason they’re a top-four side.
“The guys probably went a little bit into their shells, weren’t brave enough at stages.”