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Match report: Clinical Cats go top, punish inaccurate Dogs

Highlights: Western Bulldogs v Geelong The Bulldogs and the Cats clash in round 13
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: Joel Selwood of the Cats celebrates a goal with Rhys Stanley of the Cats during the 2016 AFL Round 13 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Geelong Cats at Etihad Stadium on June 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Rhys Stanley and Joel Selwood celebrate a goal against the Dogs

GEELONG has rocketed to the top of the ladder with a dominant 57-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night that reinforced the Cats' standing as one of this year's leading premiership contenders.

With football's Lennon and McCartney, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, leading the way, the Cats rocked the Bulldogs with a 10-goal-to-one first half that set up their 16.4 (100) to 5.13 (43) win.

Full match coverage and stats

After the Cats extended their lead to 49 points early in the third quarter, the Bulldogs briefly threatened a remarkable victory when they kicked four of the last five goals of the term – and were denied another when Liam Picken was ruled out of bounds when he converted a running banana late in the term – to cut the Geelong's lead to a gettable 28 points at the final break. 

But the Cats quickly quelled the Dogs' uprising.

After Tom Hawkins goaled within the opening minute of the final term, Dangerfield administered the knockout blow seven minutes later when he sharked a ruck contest and goaled on the run from outside 50m on the boundary line. 

It was the standout play in the Cats' five-goal-to-none final term and got Dangerfield over the line as best on ground, but he was pushed all the way by Selwood.

WATCH: Midfield masters maul Dogs

The Dangerfield-Selwood partnership might only be 13 games old, but they work so harmoniously alongside each other they have already become football's most potent one-two midfield punch. 

 

Against the Bulldogs, they combined for 65 possessions (Dangerfield 37 and Selwood 28), 17 clearances (Selwood nine and Dangerfield eight) and four goals (two each). 

The Cats' victory extended their winning streak over the Bulldogs to nine, with the Dogs' last victory coming back in round 21, 2009.

Five talking points: Western Bulldogs v Geelong

The Cats' pressure was outstanding from the opening bounce. All night, they tackled, chased and harassed the Bulldogs into error after uncharacteristic error, often pinning them down on their half-back line with no obvious escape routes.

Of Geelong's supporting cast, Jimmy Bartel (27 possessions) was a prolific ball-winner all night, Corey Enright and Lachie Henderson were impassable in defence and Daniel Menzel (four goals) was dangerous in attack.

Cats coach Chris Scott told reporters his team's recent form had been encouraging but said the competition for the top four was so close it could not afford to get ahead of itself.

"I think if we had have lost tonight we could have slipped to sixth, so that speaks to how close the competition is," Scott said.

"I understand that the commentary will be around where exactly we're at and what's possible.

"We're optimistic about what's possible, we're not trying to undersell ourselves.

"I think the last three weeks have shown that our best footy is pretty good."

At times after quarter-time, the Dogs controlled play for patches, but too often they wasted the goalscoring opportunities they created only to be penalised at the other end by the clinical Cats. 

 

The Dogs were the AFL's stingiest team heading into Saturday night's game, but they conceded their second-highest score of the year against the Cats (they conceded 108 to Adelaide in their round seven win). 

Matthew Boyd (28 possessions) tried to turn the tide all night by generating some counter-attack for the Dogs from defence, while Marcus Bontempelli (22), Jack Macrae (31) and Tom Liberatore (22) battled hard through the midfield.

Marcus Adams held Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins to one goal in the first three quarters before conceding three last-quarter goals.

Coach Luke Beveridge was left to lament a flat performance, but said the Dogs could rebound after their upcoming bye.

"We think we'll be able to continue to be very hard to beat, but tonight didn't reflect that so we'll need to bounce back," he said.

Geelong set the tone in the first quarter when it stuck 18 tackles to the Dogs' nine, stifling the home team's trademark fast ball movement.

And Selwood and Dangerfield hurt the Bulldogs the other way, racking up a combined 20 possessions and two goals, while Menzel made light of the pre-match injury cloud surrounding him with two first-quarter goals.

The Cats held the Dogs goalless for the term and went into quarter-time 28 points up. 

Liam Picken broke the Bulldogs' goal drought in the opening minute of the second term, but Luke Beveridge's men could manage only four behinds for the rest of the term as they were gripped by inaccuracy in front of goal.

As so often happens, Geelong rubbed salt into the Dogs' wounds with a blemish-free 5.0 return that sent it into half-time with a commanding 48-point lead.

 

MEDICAL ROOM
Western Bulldogs: Jake Stringer injured his left thumb late in the third quarter, but played out the match. Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said after the game Stringer had merely jarred his thumb.

Geelong: Cameron Guthrie was a late withdrawal from the Cats' team with illness, but Geelong coach Chris Scott was hopeful post-match that it would only be a 24-hour bug. Patrick Dangerfield limped on early in the final term after appearing to get a knock to the right hip. The star Cat received treatment on the boundary line, but he soon returned to the ground to ensure his team snuffed out the Dogs' faint hopes of a comeback win. Josh Caddy suffered a knee injury late in the game and was on crutches in the Cats' rooms afterwards. Scott said Caddy had suffered a medial ligament strain but was unsure of the severity.

NEXT UP
The Bulldogs enjoy their bye next weekend before resuming against the Sydney Swans in round 15 at the SCG in a clash likely to shape the make-up of the top four. Geelong plays St Kilda next Saturday night at Etihad Stadium before its bye in round 15.

Cat Patrick Dangerfield burns off Dog Caleb Daniel during Saturday night's clash. Picture: AFL Media

WESTERN BULLDOGS           0.5   1.9     5.12    5.13    (43)      
GEELONG                                5.3   10.3   11.4    16.4    (100)   

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Redpath, Wallis, Picken, Suckling, Jong
Geelong: Menzel 4, Hawkins 4, Selwood 2, Motlop 2, Dangerfield 2, Caddy, Murdoch 

BEST 
Western Bulldogs: Boyd, Suckling, Adams, Daniel, Macrae
Geelong: Dangerfield, Selwood, Henderson, Bartel, Enright, Motlop, Menzel

INJURIES
Western Bulldogs: Jake Stringer (left hand)
Geelong: Cam Guthrie (illness) replaced in the selected side by Cory Gregson, Josh Caddy (medial ligament)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Farmer, Dalgleish, Rosebury, Chamberlain

Official crowd: 41,725 at Etihad Stadium