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Match report: Cats lock in top-two finish after Demon demolition

Highlights: Geelong v Melbourne The Cats and Demons clash in round 23
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Tom Hawkins of the Cats celebrates a goal during the 2016 AFL Round 23 match between the Geelong Cats and the Melbourne Demons at Simonds Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Tom Hawkins was unstoppable early against the Demons

GEELONG has secured the double chance in emphatic fashion, thrashing Melbourne by 111 points at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

An eight-goal opening quarter from the Cats set up the win that guarantees them a spot in the top two heading into the finals.

They eventually kicked 24.11 (155) to Melbourne's 6.8 (44), after a 10-goal last quarter, which ensures the Cats will player their first two finals in Victoria.  

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The Demons' loss was outgoing coach Paul Roos' biggest defeat in his coaching career.

It is the eighth season since 2007 the Cats have finished in the top four but they have won just one final in six attempts since the 2011 premiership.

Cats supporters had plenty of time to think about what lay ahead as Geelong dismantled the Demons from start to finish.

Tom Hawkins had four goals on the board at quarter-time while Patrick Dangerfield set the scene winning the first two centre clearances, breaking tackles, running the lines and creating four inside 50s.

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In the process, Dangerfield broke Brisbane Lions Brownlow medallist Jason Akermanis' AFL record for inside 50s in a season and looks a near certainty to win this year's medal.

It was also Geelong's first eight-goal quarter since the second quarter of its game against Melbourne in round 17, 2014.

Scott was rapt with the Cats' start, particularly their work around the ball.

"We were pleased with the way we were able to defend them and it always helps when you are dominant around the ball early," Scott said.

"It was no mean feat for us to get on top of them early."

It was a disappointing end to Roos' successful three-year stint at the Demons, with Melbourne out of the hunt so early.

 

After kicking two goals in the first 10 minutes, the Demons did not kick a goal between the two-minute mark of the second quarter and the six-minute of the final quarter.

Melbourne could not withstand Geelong's pressure and made 18 clanger kicks in the first half (it had averaged 20 for the season). 

Christian Petracca battled hard and Jayden Hunt showed dash but it appeared as though the Demons had the end of the season on their mind rather than a win to give them impetus heading into the pre-season. 

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"It's just disappointing for the players after such a good season. There weren't many signs during the week," Roos said.

"I think I've mentioned the last two or three weeks we were always looking for little cracks that might be opening up in a group that's pretty young. Today cracks opened up and turned into the Grand Canyon and they all fell in a hole together."

However, the foundations have been laid for a new era under Roos' successor Simon Goodwin.

Geelong appears well set for a tilt at the premiership with selection dilemmas its biggest headache. 

Their only concern from the game against Melbourne was a calf injury to young defender Jake Kolodjashnij, which saw him sit out the final quarter. 

Nakia Cockatoo will return from a knee injury via the VFL and could play in the first week of the VFL finals in the bye round.

Defender Lachie Henderson will also be hoping to be fit for the first final, which could be on a Friday night.

 

MEDICAL ROOM
Geelong: Jake Kolodjashnij suffered a corked calf and sat out the last quarter but Scott said it was a precaution. Andrew Mackie spent time on the bench late because of hamstring tightness while Jed Bews had a niggle in the adductor but Scott said both would be fine. Lachie Henderson faces a race against time to play in week one of the finals while Nakia Cockatoo may play in the VFL next week as he recovers from a knee injury. Scott Selwood was not risked due to hamstring tightness.   

Melbourne: Nathan Jones appeared to complain of hamstring tightness late in the first quarter. 

NEXT UP
Geelong's most likely opponent is Hawthorn. If the Hawks beat Collingwood they will finish third and more than likely take on the Cats in a possible Friday night blockbuster at the MCG. If Hawthorn loses then the Cats could play Greater Western Sydney if it defeats North Melbourne on Saturday night. Of course, that is dependent on the Sydney Swans winning, otherwise the Cats could finish on top, which opens up a myriad of possibilities that include West Coast and Adelaide. It's fair to say Geelong's opposition analysts will have a busy weekend. Melbourne's VFL team, the Casey Scorpions, is still playing finals but the Demons finish the season on 10 wins.

Sam Menegola celebrates one of his three goals against the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG          8.2    11.6    14.10    24.11    (155)                
MELBOURNE     2.0      3.2        3.6       6.8      (44) 

GOALS
Geelong: Hawkins 6, Menzel 4, Menegola 3, Bartel 3, Motlop 2, Caddy 2, McCarthy, Selwood, Duncan, Taylor
Melbourne: Garlett 2, vandenBerg, Weideman, Brayshaw, Hogan 

BEST 
Geelong: Dangerfield, Caddy, Hawkins, Guthrie, Selwood, Taylor, Menzel
Melbourne: Tyson, Petracca, Hunt, Salem

INJURIES 
Geelong: Kolodjashnij (calf)
Melbourne: Kent (corked thigh), replaced in selected side by Matt Jones

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Nicholls, Mollison

Official crowd: 24,413 at Simonds Stadium