AFL 2021: Geelong holds off fast-finishing Hawthorn in another Easter thriller

Isaac Smith was booed all afternoon on Easter Monday, but the former Hawk had the last laugh as his new team Geelong survived a late scare to run out five-point winners in a thriller at the MCG.

When Brandan Parfitt snapped truly late in the third quarter to put the Cats up by 30 points, it looked like Geelong were headed for a big win.

But the Hawks refused to give in, kicking six of the last eight goals to cut the margin to the less than a kick before falling short of what would’ve been a memorable victory.

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Isaac Smith copped plenty of booing as his new club survived a fast finish from the Hawks. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

The result saw the Cats continue their dominance of the marquee fixture, making it eight wins from 10 on the public holiday against their arch rival.

But the win came at a cost for the Cats with prized recruit Shaun Higgins appearing to injure his hamstring while Francis Evans was subbed out due to an ankle injury.

Smith gave the Hawks fans a bit to boo about, especially early in the game when he set up Tom Hawkins’ first goal with a sublime pass onto the big Cat’s chest.

Cam Guthrie had a serious case of leather poisoning in the Cats’ win. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

Smith would finish with 15 touches and six marks but, as the game wore on, he was receiving as many cheers from Geelong fans as boos from the brown and gold army.

Cam Guthrie was the star of the day, finishing up with a career-high 43 disposals (15 contested), 10 clearances and 11 marks in what was arguably the best game he has ever produced.

Jack Henry was the hero for the Cats. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

AFL: What a goal from the Geelong Cats, Jordan Clark was too fast for the defenders and got the goal but it was an amazing team effort….

AFL: What a goal from the Geelong Cats, Jordan Clark was too fast for the defenders and got the goal but it was an amazing team effort.

HENRY THE HERO

At the 20-minute mark of the final quarter with the Hawks trailing by just 11 points and ready to launch another attacking foray, Howe centred the ball to Burgoyne at centre-half forward, but he gave it too much air and invited Jack Henry to chop off the kick, take a bounce and handball it to Jordan Clark, who also took a bounce before linking up with Tom Hawkins, who found Henry again, before Clark got it back in the goalsquare, extending his team’s lead to 17 points. It proved to be a pivotal play as it gave Geelong just enough breathing space to withstand the late Hawthorn charge.

Mark O’Connor did another big shutdown job for the Cats. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

ANOTHER BIG SCALP FOR O’CONNOR

A lot has been made of the return to prominence of the key forward, but are we seeing the re-emergence of the tagger, too? Fresh from shutting down Brisbane’s Lachie Neale last round, Mark O’Connor had another Brownlow medallist in his sights on Monday. Not only did he restrict Tom Mitchell to 24 disposals, but helped himself to 26 of his own to play a key role in the win.

Hawk star Tom Mitchell was well-held by the Cats. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

LATE-SURGING HAWKS

For much of the day, Hawthorn was let down by costly errors, lapses in concentration and substandard delivery to its forward line and only had three goals up until late in the third quarter. The Cats looked in control for the most part, until it all started to click for the Hawks in the final 40 minutes as their efficiency when going inside 50 skyrocketed.

Jacob Koschitzke spilt a mark he should have grabbed. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

COSTLY KOSCHITZKE BLUNDER

Early in the third quarter, Luke Breust kicked to Jacob Koschitzke all by himself 20m out from goal, but the youngster inexplicably dropped the easy mark and, instead of running in to the open goal and cutting the deficit to 13 points, the Geelong cavalry arrived and ensured no such thing would occur.

Sam Frost laments a huge late-game bungle that proved costly for the Hawks. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

ICE COLD FROST

Late in the third quarter, Sam Frost centred the ball to the corridor but missed his target, with the resultant turnover ending up with Henry who converted the set shot from 40m out. It was a momentum killer for the Hawks because they had kicked the previous two goals to cut the margin to 18 points. Admittedly, Henry’s goal came from a very soft down field free kick for a supposed push in Joel Selwood’s back as the Geelong captain was passing it to him.

SCOREBOARD

GEELONG 3.3 6.4 9.7 10.9 (69)

def

HAWTHORN 2.1 3.5 5.7 9.10 (64)

GOALS

Cats: Hawkins 2, Henry 2, Miers, Tuohy, Blicavs, Constable, Parfitt, Clark

Hawks: Breust 2, Lewis 2, Wingard, McEvoy, Koschitzke, Moore, Brockman

RONNY LERNER’S BEST

Cats: Guthrie, O’Connor, Duncan, Stewart, Henderson, Henry

Hawks: O’Meara, Jiath, Shiels, Impey, Breust, Wingard

Jaeger O’Meara led the way in a losing effort for the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

RONNY LERNER’S VOTES

3 — C.Guthrie (Geel)

2 — M.O’Connor (Geel)

1 — J.O’Meara (Haw)

INJURIES

Cats: Higgins (hamstring), Evans (ankle)

Hawks: Nil.

UMPIRES

Chamberlain, Meredith, Wallace

VENUE: MCG

Originally published asHenry the hero as Cats, Smith survive Hawks’ boos

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