GEELONG has done it yet again, holding off a late-charging Hawthorn to win by 10 points at the MCG on Saturday night and extend its winning streak over its fierce rival to 11 matches.
In a pulsating, high-pressure contest typical of these teams' recent clashes, the Cats stormed 33 points clear early in the final quarter, before the Hawks piled on five straight goals to draw within three points.
An ice-cool set shot conversion from Josh Caddy gave Geelong breathing space, and it held on to win 11.16 (82) to 10.12 (72) in front of 85,197 fans.
The result moves Geelong level on points with the Hawks at the top of the ladder, and continues the so-called 'Kennett curse'
that has existed since the start of 2009.
It also ends Hawthorn's 2013 winning run at 12 games, its last loss coming in round one – against the Cats.
Jordan Murdoch was the fourth-quarter hero for Geelong, booting three goals, including the sealer at the 26-minute mark.
Chris Scott's team had an even spread of contributors, with defenders Andrew Mackie, Tom Lonergan, Harry Taylor and Corey Enright all outstanding in helping restrict the Hawks to their lowest score since round four last season.
Further afield, skipper Joel Selwood provided trademark leadership with 34 disposals, including 19 contested, while Mitch Duncan and Caddy also had excellent games.
Sam Mitchell gave his all for the Hawks, gathering 37 disposals, including 23 in the first half while the rest of his team, choked by Geelong's fanatical pressure, struggled to hit top gear.
Ben Stratton and Taylor Duryea were solid in defence, while David Hale and Jarryd Roughead were Hawthorn's only multiple goal-scorers, each booting two.
The Hawks' forwards endured a tough night, not helped by some poor delivery inside forward 50.
The thrilling final quarter also contained a controversial moment, with Hawthorn awarded a free kick 30 metres from goal for an interchange infringement against Josh Hunt in the midst of its comeback.
Hale kicked the goal and the Cats appeared furious with the decision, which the AFL quickly admitted was wrong in the aftermath of the game.
Geelong coach Chris Scott described the decision as a "horrible error", and his counterpart Alastair Clarkson admitted he would not have liked to have won the game with the help of an interchange penalty.
There was concern, too, when Joel Corey had to be placed in a neck brace and stretchered from the field after hitting his head on the ground when he tackled Mitchell.
However, the veteran was on his feet in the rooms after the final siren and appeared to have escaped serious damage.
Hunt went down and received a free kick, but bounced quickly back up unhurt.
The 10-point margin made it nine times in 11 games that the result has been decided by less than two goals, with Geelong finishing ahead every time.
Kennett curse' was supposedly born when former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett claimed his club had a psychological edge over the Cats in the aftermath of its 2008 Grand Final win.
GEELONG 5.2 6.8 6.15 11.16 (82)
HAWTHORN 2.4 3.8 4.11 10.12 (72)
Geelong: Murdoch 3, T Hunt, Motlop, Blicavs, Podsiadly, Kelly, Selwood, Stringer, Caddy
Hawthorn: Roughead 2, Hale 2, Breust, Franklin, Puopolo, Gunston, Simpkin, Savage
Geelong: Selwood, Duncan, Kelly, Murdoch, Caddy, Lonergan, Mackie
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Stratton, Roughead, Gunston, Duryea
Geelong: Corey (concussion)
Geelong: Jesse Stringer replaced Dawson Simpson in the third quarter
Hawthorn: Cyril Rioli replaced Max Bailey in the third quarter
Umpires: Stevic, Schmitt, McInerney
Official crowd: 85,197 at the MCG