The fiercest rivalry in modern AFL history has delivered again.
Geelong’s pulsating two-point qualifying final win over Hawthorn on Friday night added another chapter to a nine-year duel.
As usual, the lead was never safe.
As usual, it came down to a few gut-wrenching moments of pressure late in the last quarter.
And finally, Isaac Smith had the game in his hands with his shot at goal after the final siren.
He missed, the Cats won by two points and if the Hawks are to win four premierships in a row, they will have to do it the hard way.
Geelong started the game favourites, thanks to their more convincing end to the season.
But form has never mattered when it comes to these two, because the underdog always rises to the occasion.
First the Cats looked like gaining a break early in the second term, then Hawthorn ramped up the pressure and just about took control.
Midway through the third term, they led by 17 points.
But within five minutes, Geelong had kicked three goals and had wrenched back the lead.
That set up an outstanding last quarter, when the lead changed repeatedly.
Players fumbled, mis-kicked and tackled frantically.
Eventually, Josh Caddy marked on his own deep in attack and goalled at 22 minutes to give the Cats the lead.
It looked like Geelong had the game on ice for the next few minutes, only for Hawthorn to break out of defence with seconds left.
Luke Breust’s kick was smothered, but he regained possession and found Smith with a pass seconds before the siren sounded.
Hawthorn started this epic rivalry with their upset 2008 grand final win over Geelong.
It has featured the Kennett Curse, dozens of classic moments and total uncertainty over who will prevail.
Since 2007, Geelong have won three premierships and Hawthorn four.
Friday night’s classic proves they will have a massive bearing on this year’s flag.