Geelong captain Joel Selwood only needed five minutes to make the difference in his side’s nine-point AFL win over Richmond.
The star midfielder added to his legend, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck early in the last term on Saturday as the Cats won 12.13 (85) to 11.10 (76).
Well-tagged by Shaun Grigg for most of the game, Selwood was prominent as the Cats broke from the middle and kicked three of the first four goals of the final quarter.
That gave them a 31-point lead and it was enough, despite the Tigers kicking the last four goals of the game.
While key defenders Harry Taylor, Tom Lonergan and Jared Rivers were pivotal and key forward Tom Hawkins kicked three goals, Selwood’s cameo was the dagger through the Tiger heart.
“When the game was really tight, he’s one of the ones you just know what he’s going to do in the moment,” said Cats coach Chris Scott.
“We’re trying to find 46 of those on our list.
Similarly, Tigers coach Damien Hardwick was left ruing Selwood’s influence, noting he was also the difference last year as the Cats beat them by five points.
“It’s a common theme, isn’t it? He does it week in, week out,” Hardwick said.
The scrappy win left the two middle of the road teams with two wins from five games.
It came at a painful cost for Cats veteran James Kelly, who went to hospital after suffering a ruptured testicle.
Hardwick called his team insipid last week after their loss to Melbourne and this effort was much better.
But goals from centre bounces – such as the Selwood-inspired burst in the last term – hurt them badly again.
Also not for the first time this season, Hardwick was left lamenting his team’s inability to take advantage of early scoring chances.
They had plenty of the play in the first half, but only kicked 0.5 to quarter time.
Sure enough, Geelong kicked four goals in six minutes during the second term and led by 28 points at the main break.
“I’m pretty relieved (and) I would’ve been pretty disappointed if we didn’t get the result, because I thought we played pretty well in big parts of the game,” Scott said.
“The game was in a way reflective of the last month of footy we’ve played – very good and then some lapses Geelong supporters aren’t used to seeing.”
After wearing the sub vest last week, Cats star Steve Johnson had one of his mercurial games.
He made several errors, but also kicked a crucial last-quarter goal.
Captain Trent Cotchin and defender Bachar Houli were best for Richmond.