Cameron Guthrie attempts to scoop up the ball Photo: Getty Images
GEELONG 3.7 11.10 12.13 14.18 (102) MELBOURNE 0.2 2.5 4.6 5.6 (36)
Goals: Geelong: T Hawkins 3 S Johnson 2 S Kersten 2 A Christensen B Hartman C Guthrie H McIntosh J Bartel M Duncan S Motlop. Melbourne: J Howe 2 B Vince C Pedersen D Kent.
Best: Geelong: J Selwood S Johnson S Motlop H McIntosh H Taylor J Kelly C Enright Melbourne: J Viney A Riley C Garland J Howe N Jones J Frawley
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Sam Hay, Jason Armstrong.
Official Crowd: 36,385 at MCG.
Melbourne was still within three goals of Geelong as the quarter-time siren rang at the MCG on Saturday, but seldom this season will an ostensibly gettable defecit prove as deceptive as this one did.
The Demons had even had a brief mid-term patch where they controlled the game for a little while, but truth be known, it was only Geelong's inaccuracy that still gave them a sniff. And that scent was about to be extinguished in emphatic fashion.
AFL Round 17, Melbourne vs Geelong at the MCG.
AFL Round 17, 2014. Geelong 14-18-102 defeated Melbourne 5-6-36 at the MCG. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Howe (2.0), Kent (1.0), Pedersen (1.0), Vince (1.0), Dunn (0.1), Jamar (0.1), Tapscott (0.1)||Scorers||Hawkins (3.1), Kersten (2.1), Johnson (2.0), Christensen (1.1), Motlop (1.1), Bartel (1.0), Duncan (1.0), Guthrie (1.0), Hartman (1.0), McIntosh (1.0), Horlin-Smith (0.2), Selwood (0.2), Blicavs (0.1), Kelly (0.1), Lonergan (0.1), Murdoch (0.1)|
Geelong forward Shane Kersten slotted one after the bell to make the difference 23 points, but it was seven or so minutes on resuming that told the tale both in play and on the scoreboard.
First, Steven Motlop waltzed away from a stoppage on the point of the goal square with nary an opponent in sight and snapped truly.
Only a couple of minutes later, Cam Guthrie strode through acres of space in the corridor, a desperate trip Melbourne's only means of halting his run, and the Cat converted the free kick anyway.
And a couple of minutes after that, a goal-square marking contest led to the ball punched straight to young Cat Brad Hartman, amazingly unmarked just 10 metres out.
Melbourne had barely touched the ball in the second term, and with the gap now 41 points, it was effectively game over. But there were three passages of play that not only showed how slick the Cats could still be in difficult, greasy conditions, but just how far off the Demons were from their defensive-minded best.
The second-quarter procession would continue, interrupted only by Jeremy Howe's first two goals of the game for the Demons. Indeed, rather than stem the flow, they only seemed to spark Geelong again, the Cats banging on another four goals in just six minutes to blow the gap out to just short of 10 goals as heavy half-time showers compounded the Demons' misery.
The second term tally of 8.3 was Geelong's highest of the season - 30 minutes when everything clicked for the Cats. Their defensive game was spot on, out-tackling Melbourne despite owning the ball themselves.
But their attacking instincts were also given full vent, the run and overlap leaving the Demons in their wake time and again, the Cats with a sizeable 46 more uncontested possessions by the long break.
Skipper Joel Selwood certainly set the example on both fronts. He had racked up 14 disposals by quarter-time, forcing Melbourne coach Paul Roos to abandon the tag of his own co-skipper Nathan Jones and hand the responsibility to a tighter-checking Jack Viney, who at least managed to stem the flow of possessions a bit and get under his opposition number's skin at the same time.
The big names largely fired for Geelong, Steve Johnson plying his tricks and the more orthodox in equal measures, one superb left-foot pass screwed back across his body to Kersten a highlight, Motlop both quick and efficient, James Kelly solid, and Corey Enright and Harry Taylor easily dealing with what few attacks came their way.
Another plus came in the form of Hamish McIntosh in the ruck.The big man played his best game for the Cats, beating an All-Australian opponent in Mark Jamar in the hitouts, picking up close to 20 disposals besides, even slotting a goal on the run during the second-quarter torrent.
For Melbourne, Viney was encouraging, while Aidan Riley kept plugging away and managed to land a few tackles. Howe started in defence, but looked more effective when thrown forward than any of those teammates whose company he suddenly was sharing, and Colin Garland did a thorough stopping job on Jimmy Bartel without winning a lot of his own ball.
The Demons' key-position players had mixed fortunes. Up forward, Chris Dawes was starved of opportunity but at least worked hard to create space. At the other end, James Frawley won his share of duels with Tom Hawkins, but blotted his copybook with some errors and had given up three goals to his opponent by the time the game was already decided.
Which was early. So early that the entire second half could be wiped from the archives without much of consequence being lost to posterity.
Perhaps that's doing the Demons a minor injustice. They did win the third quarter on the scoreboard, Geelong held to just one goal as Cameron Pedersen and Dean Kent effectively doubled their side's score. Melbourne had the ball in its half more during the third term as well, and held its own on the contested ball front.
But it was back to normal programming in the last, if again, without the scoreboard dominance. Pretty much just like this game had begun.