Geelong’s hopes of a home final are in the balance despite a 60-point AFL win over the Brisbane Lions.
In stress-free finals tune-up on Sunday, the Cats faced some resistance from their lowly opponents but were largely untroubled in the 19.15 (129) to 10.9 (69) win at the Gabba, their sixth in a row.
But they may live to regret their failure to truly put away the Lions, with some inaccurate goalkicking and a lack of intensity squandering a golden chance to further boost their percentage.
The Cats are now into third spot on the ladder – equal on points with Sydney, Hawthorn and Adelaide heading into what looms as a thrilling final round.
They will host Melbourne at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon, needing to win as big as possible to have any chance of leapfrogging the Swans or Crows into the top two.
Patrick Dangerfield (28 disposals) was terrific but Sam Mengola, in just his fifth game for Geelong, looks set to give coach Chris Scott a September selection headache after grabbing 33 disposals and eight clearances.
Shannon Motlop was also lively with a career-best five-goal haul.
A bloodbath looked on the cards after a lopsided first term, with Dangerfield and Motlop both kicking two goals apiece as Geelong established a 36-point lead at quarter-time.
The Lions outscored the Cats by six goals to two in the next quarter, chopping the margin to 19 points, but simply didn’t have the ability or the energy to go for much longer.
It was a disappointing way to mark veteran defender Daniel Merrett’s home game, as well as midfielder Dayne Zorko’s 100th AFL game, played in front of 20,477 fans.
Skipper Tom Rockliff (27 touches), Daniel Rich (24 touches, two goals) and rookie Rhys Mathieson (nine clearances) were among Brisbane’s best.