Geelong have kept their faint hopes of a ninth straight AFL finals campaign alive, after beating Greater Western Sydney by 27 points in Canberra.
Key forward Tom Hawkins starred with five straight goals in the scrappy 6.6 (42) to 9.15 (69) victory on Saturday – their first ever at Star Track Oval.
It takes their season record to 8-7 and keeps them in touch with the top eight, with six games remaining.
While the defeat doesn’t spell the end for the Giants, it makes the run to a maiden playoffs tougher.
Apart from a mini comeback in the third quarter, the hosts – particularly their forward line – were monstered by the Cats.
It marked GWS’s lowest score at the venue in 2015, in front of their biggest Canberra crowd of 14,667.
Toby Greene opened the Giants’ account with what looked more like a party trick than goal kick – snapping the ball back over his head after shrugging off two defenders just outside the goalsquare.
But that was the only highlight from the hosts in a messy first term.
Steven Motlop and Hawkins were at their damaging best, doing most of the work for the 17-point lead at quarter time.
The Giants had almost 50 fewer touches in that first term, in which they also lost Rhys Palmer with a corked hamstring.
The injury handed substitute Jed Lamb his first AFL match in 2015, although it did little to lift GWS.
Leon Cameron’s men appeared sluggish and struggled across the park.
They were kept goalless for 49 minutes, managing just two majors the entire first half – the second coming via Adam Tomlinson in his 50th AFL match.
While Geelong, the league’s most accurate side heading into the weekend, wavered in front of goal, they took a 2.3 (15) to 5.10 (40) lead into the main break.
The Giants stepped up in the third quarter, winning the contested ball and bagging three goals to one – including a freakish snap by Tom Downie to narrow the deficit to 16 points.
But the momentum didn’t continue their way into the last term.
Despite kicking the final two goals of the game, it followed three straight to the Cats via Hawkins, Mitch Duncan and returned skipper Joel Selwood.