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Cats rain on Dogs' parade as Motlop proves the difference

Highlights: Geelong v Western Bulldogs The Cats and Bulldogs clash in round 16
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Josh Caddy of the Cats kicks the ball during the round 16 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Western Bulldogs at Simonds Stadium on July 18, 2015 in Geelong, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images/AFL Media)
Josh Caddy played a superb game in the absence of his captain

A THREE-GOAL burst from Steven Motlop has dragged Geelong to an eight-point win over the Western Bulldogs and kept the Cats' slim finals hopes alive.

Motlop's second-half cameo and the remarkable comeback of midfielder Mitch Duncan breathed life into an otherwise dour and low-scoring affair at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Five talking points: Geelong v Western Bulldogs

Josh Caddy and Duncan – in his first game at any level since breaking his foot in round seven - starred, as the Cats answered each challenge the Dogs mounted after a forgettable first half. 

Caddy finished with 37 disposals and 12 clearances in a game the Cats did well to win without suspended captain Joel Selwood, while Duncan stepped back seamlessly onto the AFL stage with 25 touches. 

The win extends the Cats' dominance over the Dogs to eight straight games, and keeps them in touch with the top eight.

However, after a a slow first half with the teams sharing just seven goals despite dry and still conditions in Geelong, Chris Scott wasn't getting carried away with the result.

"We're in the stage of our development where the reality would suggest that we're going to have some ebbs and flows," Scott said after the game. 

"Our challenge is to maintain perspective. 

"I guess the slight on the game was both sides' inability to finish their good work and that contributed to the low scores.

"We went into the game thinking it was going to be tough and that's the way it panned out, so it's nice to come away with a win."

Still, the Cats were then able to weather a Dogs' purple patch in the third term when the visitors had the majority of play within their forward half. 

But a misfiring forward line hurt Luke Beveridge's men as they managed just one goal from Luke Dahlhaus – who was their best player with 37 touches - despite an astonishing 15 inside 50s to zero to start the term. 

The Cats then made their few forward entries count. 

Two goals to Tom Hawkins, who battled on despite strong opposition from Jordan Roughead and was often double-teamed, and one to Duncan dragged them clear after the Dogs narrowed the gap to three points. 

Mitch Wallis got things moving again with an important goal that came in between missed opportunities from Jimmy Bartel and James Kelly. 

 

But Motlop's first after the three-quarter time siren cut the Dogs deep and gave him the momentum to have an influence on the contest again late on.

Wallis bobbed up again and kicked the final quarter's first goal and Jake Stringer kicked another nearly 10 minutes later, but each time Motlop replied. 

Dogs' forward Tory Dickson managed the game's last but it wasn't enough after his team was hurt so badly by such a wasteful third term. 

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said his players' work rate let the midfield down with the Cats – led by what he described as a Selwood-like performance from Caddy – getting the better of them. 

"I don't think any player comes off (today) not having worked hard but we just didn't have the edge, we didn't have that temperature extreme in the engine room you need to beat any side," Beveridge said.

"In a depleted Geelong side, we thought we were a really good chance to get them today and we didn't, so we're really disappointed."

It wasn't the way veteran defender Dale Morris wanted to celebrate his 200th game, although he staged a brave performance with a string of significant intercept marks when the Dogs' half-backs struggled to get into the game.

Compounding the loss for the Dogs is the expected extended absence of late withdrawal Koby Stevens, who has a stress fracture in his heel.

Mitch Wallis shares the pain with the wounded Easton Wood. Picture: AFL Media

GEELONG                       3.4   4.8   8.10   10.12 (72)
WESTERN BULLDOGS  2.2   3.4   6.10   9.10 (64)

GOALS
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Motlop 3, Gregson, Walker, Caddy, Duncan
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 3, Wallis 2, Redpath, Dahlhaus, Grant, Stringer 

BEST 
Geelong: Caddy, Murdoch, Duncan, Lonergan, Enright, Blicavs, Motlop
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Morris, Wallis, Wood, Johannisen

INJURIES 
Geelong: Gregson (foot)
Western Bulldogs: Stevens (heel) replaced in selected side by Hunter, Wallis (back)

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong: Mathew Stokes replaced Cory Gregson in the third quarter
Western Bulldogs: Lachie Hunter replaced Tom Campbell at three-quarter time

Reports: Nil 

Umpires: Donlon, Chamberlain, Ryan 

Official crowd: 25,041 at Simonds Stadium