GEELONG was forced to come from behind for a 14-point win over the Box Hill Hawks in a semi-final that lived up to its hype at Casey Fields yesterday.
The Cats will meet the Werribee Tigers in a preliminary final next Sunday in what shapes as a blockbuster between the two most improved teams this year.
Much was asked of the Cats yesterday, who were as much as 19-points adrift in the final term. But two crucial final-term goals to Shane Kersten, who kicked five for the match, were topped off by George Horlin-Smith's knockout blow.
The Cats had shown signs of running out of gas in the past few weeks, but they rallied to run over the top of the Hawks in the final 10 minutes.
Box Hill had led by 21-points at the main break with skipper Daniel Pratt standing tall early and Hawthorn defender Kyle Cheney doing his chances of a recall to the senior team no harm with a brilliant rebound role from defence.
The Hawks looked finished in the third term but goals to Brad Hill and Chance Bateman steadied them for a two-goal lead at the final change. But that proved a brief respite.
Along with Kersten, Cats veteran midfielder Shannon Byrnes, who may leave the club as a free agent, was important, as was David Wojcinski and Orren Stephenson, who carved up the Hawks' talls.
Cats VFL coach Matthew Knights, in his first season at the helm, has rotated players in games, allowing some to be rested during the season, to maintain their freshness for finals and it has shown in two consecutive solid last terms. This week Box Hill could not withstand what Port Melbourne was able to last week.
PRELIMINARY FINALS: Saturday - Port Melbourne v Williamstown, 2.10pm (North Port Oval); Sunday - Werribee v Geelong, 2.10pm (North Port Oval).