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Five talking points: Geelong v Melbourne

Travis King  August 27, 2016 4:52 PM

Highlights: Geelong v Melbourne The Cats and Demons clash in round 23
AFL 2016 Rd 23 - Geelong v Melbourne

Patrick Dangerfield was crunched in a Sam Frost tackle

1. Fast-starting Cats book top-two spot
Adelaide's shock loss to West Coast on Friday night presented Geelong with a golden opportunity to secure a home qualifying final and the Cats were never going to let that chance slip. It was show time all day, but especially early from star combo Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins as they sparked Geelong's dominant opening quarter. The Cats had 18 inside 50s to eight, kicked 8.2 to 2.0 and also won the tackle count 19-11 by quarter-time to kill the contest by the first change and potentially set up a mouthwatering clash with Hawthorn in week one of finals. This was the Geelong that every other top-eight team fears.

Full match coverage and stats

2. Spoiled send-off won't overshadow Roos legacy
After a total restructure of Melbourne over the past three years, Paul Roos has handed the keys over to protégé Simon Goodwin with the Demons seemingly on the march towards sustained finals success. The Dees have improved from two wins after the debacle of 2013 to four in Roos' first season, seven last year and 10 this season. The last two games of Roos' tenure – a shock loss to Carlton which ended Melbourne's finals hopes and an 111-point belting in Geelong, his worst coaching loss – weren't the way he hoped to finish, but he can bow out satisfied with his salvage job.

3. Tomahawk tunes up
Tom Hawkins has copped his fair share of criticism this season, but Geelong coach Chris Scott has been staunch in his defence of the powerhouse big man – and Saturday's opening quarter showed precisely why. Hawkins put the Demons to the sword with four goals to notch up 50 for the season – and could've had a bag of five if Steven Motlop gave a 'Joe the Goose' handball to him in the goalsquare. He feasted on the quick ball movement and Geelong's slick centre square work, finishing with six majors. If Hawkins fires in September, then the Cats' premiership hopes will skyrocket.

4. Maxed out
Max Gawn is all but certain to be announced as the All Australian ruckman next week, which will mark the crowning achievement in the bearded behemoth's stunning rise from pizza-eating teenager to the game's dominant big man. The 24-year-old leads the competition for hit-outs and on Saturday returned to the ground where the penny dropped in round 12 last season. Gawn inspired the Dees to a shock win at the Cattery in 2015 with 44 hit-outs, 19 touches, eight marks and a goal, and clearly the Cats hadn't forgotten. The 208cm giant was held, double-teamed and jumped all over at every opportunity and Geelong nullified his influence, commanding control of clearances (41-31) despite Gawn winning 41 hit-outs.

5. Bartel back and booked in for September
Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel was managed for the Cats' trip to Brisbane last round amid speculation whether the Brownlow medallist was still in the best 22 leading into finals. All eyes were on the bearded 32-year-old and he couldn’t have started better, getting in the right spot to mark a tumbling punt and boot the game's first goal. It didn't all go to plan for the triple-premiership champ from there, but Bartel had a few nice moments and bobbed up with his 200th career goal in the third term and another in the last quarter, finishing with 16 touches. His footy smarts and ability to stand up in clutch moments will still be invaluable over the next month. 

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