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Walker leads Cats to easy romp over Lions

Highlights: Geelong v Brisbane Lions The Cats and Lions clash in round 18
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 1: Josh Walker of the Cats marks the ball during the 2015 AFL round 18 match between the Geelong Cats and the Brisbane Lions at Simonds Stadium, Geelong, Australia on August 1, 2015. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)
Josh Walker takes to the air during the Cats' big win at Simonds Stadium

GEELONG didn't answer many questions about its bid for a ninth consecutive finals campaign, but the Cats warmed up for a stern test ahead with a 56-point win over the Brisbane Lions at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

If Richmond has just completed its 'big boy month', then that challenge now faces the Cats in August, who climbed at least temporarily into the top eight on the back of the 17.11 (113) to 8.9 (57) triumph.

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In the run home, they face top-four contenders the Sydney Swans, Hawthorn, plus finals rivals Adelaide, Collingwood and the much-improved St Kilda.

On Saturday's evidence, Chris Scott's men have plenty of improvement left in them, after cruising in third gear to their 14th win from the past 16 games against the struggling Lions.

Five talking points: Geelong v Brisbane Lions

Their lacklustre victory over the inexperienced visitors always seemed a formality from the moment Steve Johnson gave Geelong a dream start by snapping the game's opening goal inside 15 seconds. 

The Cats' intent was obvious, with their tackle count almost doubling the Lions (28-15), despite the home side also controlling possession (106-71) to quarter-time. 

To the 17th-placed Lions' credit, they made the Cats fight harder than they might have expected.

When the teams last met, it was power forward Tom Hawkins who got hold of the undersized Lions, bagging a career-high seven goals last year.

But on this occasion it took a haul of four goals before half-time from Josh Walker to propel the Cats towards their ninth win.

Supplied by a dominant midfield, Walker finished with career-high five majors in a high-marking display sure to excite Cats fans. 

Skipper Joel Selwood (27 disposals, two goals), Cam Guthrie (28, two), Josh Caddy and Steven Motlop (29 and one each) were outstanding for the home side through the midfield, while defender Harry Taylor was rock-solid across half-back.

 

"As we spread a little bit better and used those numbers to get forward, we tended to look better in attack and defence," Cats coach Chris Scott said.

"When they play well and get the game on their terms they can be hard to stop and I think we saw patches of that today - we were a bit disappointed with the way we defended at times but for the most part, 56 points we are reasonably happy."

There were some things to like for the Lions, who after slumping to their 10th consecutive loss, remain mired in a season which threatens to reap their fewest wins since the Bears merged with Fitzroy (four wins in 2011). 

Young defender Harris Andrews (22 disposals, 12 marks) competed strongly in the face of a lop-sided inside 50 count, ruckman Stefan Martin (24) battled hard and Jed Adcock booted an equal-career high four goals from limited opportunities. 

Tom Rockliff (30) and Mitch Robinson (30) never stopped trying, but the Cats' weight of possession burst the dam wall.

"It's a familiar story. There's moments within our game. I think kicking 1.5 in the second quarter probably demoralised the group a bit, we didn't maximise our chances from our inside 50 dominance," Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said.

"We just weren't clean enough to do it. There were a lot of errors, too, today. A lot of turnover errors where it just whizzed back the other way and they were a bit classier than us and a bit more experienced to get the job done."

Having led by 22 points at half-time, the home side broke the game open with a six-goal to two third term.

Having led by just 22 points at half-time, the home side broke the game open with a six-goal to two third term.

After weeks of trying, Steve Johnson finally overtook Billy Brownless in third spot on the Cats' list of all-time goalkickers by slotting his 442nd career major and second goal for the match just after half-time. 

 

Johnson finished with three majors and 20 touches in a vintage display, helping to consign the visitors to their ninth-straight defeat at Simonds Stadium, six of those by greater than 50 points.

It was a disappointing return for ex-Geelong small Allen Christensen, who gathered just 12 disposals – although he was mostly spared boos by the crowd in a positive sign ahead of Adam Goodes' potential visit with the Swans next week. 

The defeat was further soured by the likely loss of Dayne Beams (17 disposals) for the rest of the season after he re-injured his sore shoulder, although ruckman Matthew Leuenberger appears to have escaped a serious knee injury.

Leuenberger copped a hit to his knee in the first quarter and, after coming back shortly after, was subbed out at half-time with just one kick to his name.

Andrew Mackie consoles Allen Christensen after the Lions' defeat at Simonds Stadium. Picture: AFL Media

 

GEELONG                5.1   7.4   13.7  17.11 (113)
BRISBANE LIONS   2.1   3.6   5.7   8.9 (57)

GOALS
Geelong: Walker 5, Johnson 3, Hawkins 2, Selwood 2, Guthrie 2, Caddy, Motlop, Lang
Brisbane Lions: Adcock 4, Taylor 2, Freeman, Bewick

BEST
Geelong: Guthrie, Motlop, Walker, Selwood, Caddy, Mackie, Johnson
Brisbane Lions: Martin, Adcock, Beams, Rockliff, Andrews

INJURIES
Geelong: Nil
Brisbane Lions: Matthew Leuenberger (knee), Dayne Beams (shoulder)

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong: Nakia Cockatoo replaced Jackson Thurlow in the third quarter.
Brisbane Lions: Nick Robertson replaced Matthew Leuenberger at half-time.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Fisher, Ryan, Wallace

Official crowd: 21,914 at Simonds Stadium