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Cats down wasteful Dons

Highlights: Geelong v Essendon The Cats and Bombers clash in round 7
Mathew Stokes (#27) and Tom Lonergan of the Cats celebrate during the 2013 AFL round 07 match between the Geelong Cats and the Essendon Bombers at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on May 10, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Mathew Stokes and Tom Lonergan celebrate Geelong's seventh straight win
GEELONG is now the only unbeaten team in the competition after defeating Essendon by 28 points before a sell-out crowd of 53,014 at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Chris Scott's men were 18 points down at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter, but the game changed completely between then and the two-minute mark of the final term.

The Cats booted 11.4 to 1.13 in that period, grabbing a 27-point lead by the final change, and they went on with the job from there, winning 17.11 (113) to 11.19 (85) to improve to 7-0 for the season.

Five talking points: Geelong v Essendon

"It looked to me to be a really high-pressure game," Scott said after the match.

"It was pretty fierce and a pretty high-standard game as well.

"The most important thing early in the season is to get over the line, but the big picture for us is that we want to keep improving our game. We think we've got a long way to go."

The result continues Geelong's recent domination of Essendon. The Cats have now won eight of their last nine games against the Bombers.

"I don't know (if we) blew it. We certainly felt we were in the game and closer than what the scoreline said," Dons coach James Hird said after his side’s first loss of the year.
 
"We would have liked to have used the ball a bit better in the second quarter when we had our three or four-goal lead, and also kicking 1.9 (in the third quarter) never helps.

"The guys … certainly didn't give up and we'll learn a lot from that game."

Midfielders Steve Johnson (who equalled a career-high with 36 possessions) and Mathew Stokes were among the many stars for the winners.

First-gamer Jackson Thurlow – the club's first pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft – also looked very comfortable at the highest level.

Elsewhere, ruckman Mark Blicavs continued his remarkable debut season by kicking two goals, while Steven Motlop also showed repeated flashes of brilliance up forward, yet some inaccurate finishing meant he finished with just 1.3.

Geelong showed off the flexibility that coach Chris Scott has been working hard to create, with key defenders Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor both spending time in the forward line, while usual forward James Podsiadly played as a key defender at times.

Lonergan made the most of his opportunities up forward, booting two goals.

Click here to vote for the three best Geelong players from the game

The Cats’ win came with some injury concerns. Tagger Taylor Hunt was subbed out of the game with a right shoulder problem during the first quarter after copping a heavy bump from Essendon onballer Jake Melksham.

Tom Hawkins, who went into the game with a stiff back, looked well below full fitness. He struggled to run freely and found it almost impossible to jump into marking contests, although he still chipped in with two majors in a performance described by Scott as "very effective".

Midfielder James Kelly is also sure to come under scrutiny from the match review panel for a high bump on Brendon Goddard late in the third quarter.

David Zaharakis, who was tagged by Hunt during the opening stages of the game, made the most of his opponent's injury by finishing as Essendon's leading ball-winner with 31 possessions.

Zaharakis was instrumental in the Bombers' impressively manic start to the contest, gathering 13 touches in the opening quarter, but, like many of his teammates, he faded after the midpoint of the second term.

Heath Hocking was Essendon's most influential player. He limited Geelong skipper Joel Selwood to just 19 touches while gathering 19 of his own and kicking a goal.

Click here to vote for the three best Essendon players from the game

But the Bombers' big forwards had little impact on proceedings, with Michael Hurley, Stewart Crameri and Scott Gumbleton kicking only three goals between them.

Key backman Jake Carlisle was very good against Hawkins during the first quarter, but in the end Essendon's defence, which had conceded an average of just 72 points per game during its first six matches of the season, was well beaten.

Adding to the Bombers' problems, small forward Alwyn Davey was subbed out of the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury.

The Cats will be aiming to continue their winning streak when they take on Collingwood in another blockbuster next Saturday night at the MCG.

In contrast, the Bombers will be confident of getting back on the winners' list when they meet the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium next Saturday afternoon.


Mathew Stokes was a livewire for the Cats on Friday night with three goals. Picture: AFL Media

GEELONG        2.2     7.7     13.9    17.11 (113)
ESSENDON     2.5     6.9     7.18    11.19 (85)


GOALS
Geelong:
Stokes 3, Blicavs 2, Hawkins 2, Lonergan 2, Smedts 2, Bartel, Christensen, Duncan, Motlop, Schroder, Selwood
Essendon: Gumbleton 2, Myers 2, Bellchambers, Crameri, Davey, Goddard, Hibberd, Hocking, Hurley

BEST
Geelong:
Johnson, Stokes, Motlop, Kelly, Enright, Blicavs, Smedts, Lonergan
Essendon: Hocking, Zaharakis, Goddard, Howlett, Heppell, Myers

INJURIES
Geelong:
Taylor Hunt (right shoulder)
Essendon: Alwyn Davey (left hamstring)

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong:
Jordan Schroder replaced Taylor Hunt in the first quarter
Essendon: Nathan Lovett-Murray replaced Alwyn Davey in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Ryan

Official crowd: 53,014 at Etihad Stadium

Adam McNicol covers Geelong news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_AdamMcNicol