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Geelong lucky to get past Carlton after a hard slog

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Cats snatch win from gallant Blues

Geelong defeated Carlton by 5 points at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

PT0M0S 620 349

GEELONG 3.1 10.6 12.7 16.11 (107) CARLTON 4.4 7.5 12.9 15.12 (102)
GOALS: Geelong: Hawkins 4, Stokes 3, Horlin- Smith 2, Murdoch 2, Mackie, Bartel, Selwood,Walker, Motlop. Carlton: Gibbs 4, Thomas 3, Menzel 2, McLean, Yarran, Garlett, Casboult, Warnock, Rowe.
BEST Geelong: Hawkins, Stokes, Kelly, Horlin-Smith, Taylor, Guthrie Carlton: Gibbs, Carrazzo, Thomas, Yarran, Murphy, Simpson.
INJURIES: Geelong: M Stokes (cut head). Carlton: D Thomas (head) M Jamison (calf).
UMPIRES Ryan, Meredith, Jeffery.
CROWD 36,952 at Etihad Stadium.

In one of the better matches of 2014, Joel Selwood managed to break from a stoppage with barely a minute left and convert a long angle shot to snatch the lead - and the win - for a Geelong side that can consider itself fortunate to defeat an admirable Carlton.

The Blues had opened up what had seemed to be a match-winning lead of seven points deep into time-on, following a fourth goal to Bryce Gibbs, who was easily best afield and played what was close to the best game of his career. Gibbs had eclipsed Selwood in their individual duel, but Selwood again proved the adage that while sometimes it cannot be your best game, it can always be your moment.

Geelong's Steven Motlop prevents Kade Simpson and Sam Rowe from getting to the ball.

Geelong's Steven Motlop prevents Kade Simpson and Sam Rowe from getting to the ball. Photo: Pat Scala

Q4 31:51
Geelong versus Carlton
View Match Statistics
Players Hawkins (4.0), Stokes (3.1), Horlin-Smith (2.0), Murdoch (2.0), Bartel (1.2), Mackie (1.2), Motlop (1.0), Selwood (1.0), Walker (1.0), Guthrie (0.1), Johnson (0.1), Kelly (0.1), Lonergan (0.1) Scorers Gibbs (4.2), Thomas (3.0), Menzel (2.0), Casboult (1.1), Garlett (1.1), Yarran (1.1), McLean (1.0), Rowe (1.0), Warnock (1.0), Docherty (0.1), Everitt (0.1), Jamison (0.1), Simpson (0.1), Waite (0.1), Walker (0.1)

Carlton had controlled play for the bulk of the second half, after trailing by 19 points at the main break. It had seen off the domination of Tom Hawkins, and raised a supreme effort. Yet, it came up short by five points.

Geelong had been beaten by 110 points by Sydney the week before. Carlton had suffered the equal embarrassment of losing to the bottom team Brisbane. If both should be seeking an evening of atonement, few gave the Blues much hope.

In an entertaining match, in which each team had periods of ascendancy, the Blues performed well above expectations, the Cats were below. Carlton performed at something approaching its season peak.

Joel Selwood celebrates on the final siren. Click for more photos

AFL Round 12 Geelong v Carlton

The Age photographer Pat Scala presents highlights of the victory for the Geelong Cats over Carlton Blues at Eithad Stadium. Photo: Pat Scala

Geelong, not Carlton, began as if it had turned up wearing the wrong shorts.

Carlton was clearly superior in the opening term. The Blues bettered Geelong in the contest, in the spread and, with a touch more finish, their advantage would have exceeded three goals.

Jarrad Waite and Michael Jamison had traded places, the forward playing back and the back positioned forward. This adventurous ploy was only a temporary measure, but it seemed to have the desired effect of cattle-prodding the Blues, who were winning clearances and playing with more energy. They had managed to pull of the rare double of nullifying Selwood (one touch) and Stevie Johnson (two).

Andrew Carrazzo, whose form had tapered this year, had successfully smothered Stevie, while Gibbs had taken on - and taken down - Selwood.

But if the Blues led in nearly all the key performance indicators - tackling included - and had quelled Selwood and Johnson, there were two ominous facts to consider. One was that their lead was just a modest nine points. Second, Tom Hawkins had a major mismatch on Sam Rowe - neither experienced nor a proven key defender - and looked likely to mark every time the ball was directed in their vicinity (he took four, three contested).

Mick Malthouse did not choose to deploy Jamison on Hawkins, who, it must be said, is capable of monstering just about any key defender. The other option, Lachie Henderson, was floundering in attack, where the Blues relied on smalls, such as Troy Menzel and Chris Yarran, whose blistering one-bounce goal matched a highly skilled piece of Kevin Bartlett-like roving from George Horlin-Smith.

If Hawkins had hinted at domination in the first quarter without kicking a goal, the extent of Carlton's problem with Mount Hawkins soon became evident. The powerhouse Geelong forward slotted four goals in the second quarter, as the Cats recovered from a deficit that had stretched to 15 points just after quarter-time.

Of Hawkins' four goals for the second term, two were from wonderfully precise angled shots after he marked on the lead. His last goal, on the half-time siren from a powerful grab, extended the lead to 19 points.

Much of Geelong's second quarter surge came from defensive rebounds. The Cats were winning contests, with a clever Mathew Stokes (two goals, 12 touches for the half) prominent.

Malthouse had seen enough of Rowe on Hawkins. When the teams lined up for the second half, Jamison was standing the Tomahawk.

Carlton's spirited third quarter saw the Blues boot five goals to two and regain the lead.

The Blues had re-asserted themselves in the midfield, where Gibbs had continued his outstanding vein of form and skipper Marc Murphy lifted.

While we had seen Carlton play with this effort before, the difference this time was that Troy Menzel, Dale Thomas and Yarran gave them some potency and flair in attack.

Carlton surged, but Geelong - with the final two goals to Horlan-Smith and Selwood - surged last. The last bob of the head was decisive.

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