Close encounter: The ball manages to elude the outstretched arms of Cat Mark Blicavs and Dean Cox in a ruck duel. Photo: Getty Images
GEELONG 6.1 11.5 15.9 16.11 (107) WEST COAST 2.1 2.3 4.5 6.5 (41)
GOALS Geelong: J Selwood 4, Kelly 2, Podsiadly 2, Stokes 2, Motlop 2, Christensen, Murdoch, Walker, Vardy. West Coast: Dalziell, Darling, Hill, S Selwood, Wellingham, Schofield.
BEST Geelong: J Selwood, Johnson, Stokes, Bartel, Kelly, Motlop. West Coast: Wellingham, S Selwood, Priddis, Cox, Sheppard, Dalziell.
REPORTS West Coast: Cox for striking J Selwood in the second term.
UMPIRES Stewart, Kamolins, Margetts.
CROWD 34,394 at Subiaco.
Geelong has joined Hawthorn in bringing finals-type football to the 2013 AFL season early.
And it is Cats captain Joel Selwood who is leading the way.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Schofield (1.1), Wellingham (1.1), Dalziell (1.0), Darling (1.0), Hill (1.0), Selwood (1.0), Butler (0.1), Cox (0.1), Sheppard (0.1)||Scorers||Selwood (4.1), Kelly (2.0), Motlop (2.0), Podsiadly (2.0), Stokes (2.0), Christensen (1.0), Murdoch (1.0), Vardy (1.0), Walker (1.0), Blicavs (0.2), Duncan (0.2), Johnson (0.2), Caddy (0.1), Guthrie (0.1), Mackie (0.1)|
Selwood had 29 touches and kicked four goals last night as the Cats beat West Coast by 66 points at Patersons Stadium to finally end the Eagles' frustrating season.
With the threat of losing their spot in the top two, the Cats produced one of their best performances of the season - just a night after the top-placed Hawks flexed some muscle to beat Collingwood.
The Cats were ruthless from the outset and had their 16.11 (107) to 6.5 (41) victory assured after James Kelly produced the second of his consecutive snapped goals 11 minutes into the second term.
The margin was 39 points then - but it wasn't a true indication of just how much Geelong had dominated.
In reality the contest was over 13 minutes after the first siren sounded when the Cats had already piled on five goals to the Eagles' one point.
The Eagles kicked two goals in a two-minute spurt late in the first term, making the most of the only period of play when they looked capable of matching the Cats.
The only issue for Geelong after the win is a hamstring complaint for Steven Motlop, who was subbed out just after half-time.
A loss to an improving Eagles side would have opened the door for Fremantle and Sydney to leapfrog the Cats into second spot - and increase the chances of Geelong having to travel interstate in the first week of finals.
That threat hasn't gone away totally though, with the Swans' clash with Geelong at Simonds Stadium next weekend likely to shape the four.
The Cats used the game against West Coast to prepare for the Swans, monstering it in the first half to set up a 56-point lead.
Small forwards Motlop and Allen Christensen set the tempo - the former kicking two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The high work rate and tough one-on-one play that has been a highlight of the Eagles' season since the mid-season bye was missing.
Geelong had 30 more possessions in the opening term and also had almost double the number of tackles.
The Cats kept the Eagles goalless in the second term and went in to the main break having entered their attacking 50 on 32 occasions to West Coast's 17.
The home side's defence was under immense pressure as the Cats set up their wall across half-forward. Yet Nathan Vardy and Josh Walker still managed to run forward and kick goals without an opposition player within 30metres of them.
Coach Chris Scott rotated his midfielders at a much higher rate than West Coast did, allowing his runners plenty of rest.
By three-quarter-time, with Eagle Luke Shuey subbed out of the game with a recurring hamstring injury, the numbers all stacked up in favour of the Cats.
And they used the ball well too. The Cats' potential finals opponents would be disappointed with the lack of pressure put on the Geelong ball carriers.
Finals are finally out of reach for the Eagles this season, even if the AFL strips Essendon of premiership points and removes it from September action.
And it seems as though the season can't end soon enough for the Eagles.
By rights though, they should not have been this close to the eight in round 21 as they have been cruelled by injury.
One of their best last night, Sharrod Wellingham, played in his 100th game against Geelong, but it was only his eighth appearance for the season.
This was the first time that they have had Wellingham and Shuey in the same side in 2013. And their performances would have given the Eagles faithful some reason to be optimistic about next season.
They, plus Scott Selwood and Matt Priddis, saw the Eagles hold an advantage for centre clearances for much of the contest, overtaken by the Cats late in the game.
That was despite Chris Masten being a late withdrawal due to a thigh injury.
All-Australian ruckman Dean Cox was reported in the third term for striking Joel Selwood in an act of frustration.
JOEL HAS BRAGGING RIGHTS
West Coast's Adam Selwood pulled the pin on his career during the week, but when time has been called on all of his brothers' AFL lives it will be Geelong's Joel who will have the bragging rights. His win over the Eagles last night was his 12th in 13th contests against a team that included one of his siblings. The one loss was the round 20 contest against the Eagles in 2012. Adam didn't play last night but Scott did, while Troy was at Brisbane when Joel first started his career.
CATS AVOID PATERSONS CURSE
Geelong's fast start against West Coast was probably down to the Cats not wanting to return to Patersons Stadium during the finals. A loss to the Eagles would have opened the door much wider for Fremantle to sneak in to the top two. The Cats would have dropped below the Dockers, should the boys in purple take care of business against Melbourne on Sunday. The Cats don't have the best record in the west recently, having not won at Patersons Stadium before last night since round two, 2011.
EAGLES PATERSONS CURSE VICTIMS
The Eagles 66-point loss was their biggest loss of the season. It was also West Coast's eighth defeat at Patersons Stadium from 11 outings in 2013. An insight into the Eagles season is the stat that their biggest seven losses this season have been recorded at home - six against sides currently in the eight and the other against Carlton. Their three wins at Patersons Stadium have come from the Western Bulldogs (by 70 points in round three), the Gold Coast (17 points in round 19) and North Melbourne (two points in round eight).