Jeremy Cameron celebrates a goal during Geelong's clash against Hawthorn in round four, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE PREMIERSHIP hangover is over. 

It took until the second half of Easter Monday, but after becoming the first reigning premier since North Melbourne in 1976 to start the season 0-3, Geelong is finally on the board in 2023 after smashing Hawthorn by 82 points at the MCG. 

CATS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

The Hawks kicked the first three goals of the game and should have led by more than nine points at half-time, but it was a complete annihilation from there. 

Geelong kicked 10 goals to no score in a third quarter onslaught, before finishing with 16 of the final 17 goals to defeat the Hawks 19.13 (127) to 6.9 (45) in front of 65,335 people. 


Chris Scott demanded a response after half-time and got a dramatic one from a side that featured 19 premiership players. The Cats recorded 15 scoring shots from 22 inside 50s to just one Hawthorn entry in the third quarter, dismantling and demoralising a young Hawthorn outfit that had a whiff of a second straight win but was reminded of exactly where it is at. 

Jeremy Cameron was the star of the show from start to finish, putting Hawthorn skipper James Sicily and the Hawks to the sword in another best-on-ground display to start 2023, slotting seven goals from 22 disposals and nine marks in another box-office performance that finished with an accidental collision with a boundary umpire after wheeling to the pocket to celebrate his final goal. 

The 2019 Coleman medallist has now overtaken Carlton star Charlie Curnow (16 goals) at the top of the Coleman Medal leaderboard after four rounds with 18 on the board.


After losses to Collingwood, Carlton and Gold Coast to start 2023, the Cats hadn't won a game since they won premiership No.10 on the final Saturday of last September and had almost dug themselves a hole that was going to put them a mile behind. 

But just when they were in trouble, they flicked the switch.


Hawthorn had extinguished tanking talk when it beat North Melbourne in Launceston last weekend and carried that momentum for 60 minutes of football, before the youngest and least experienced list in the AFL was taught a lesson after half-time. 

Fresh from signing a four-year extension last week, Will Day burst out of the opening centre bounce and found Luke Breust for the first goal inside 60 seconds. The Hawks had the first three before Geelong arrived.

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But in a game of two vastly different halves, the Hawks showed significant growth across the first two quarters, before the growing pains of a drastic rebuild brought Sam Mitchell's men back to earth in the second half. 

Dual premiership midfielder Mitch Duncan showed why his absence across the first three rounds was so telling, collecting 31 disposals, 14 marks and 439 metres gained in his first game of the season, after overcoming the calf injury that derailed his pre-season. 


While it is going to take more than just a 14-goal win over a side many expect to finish in the bottom four to prove Geelong is back in business, plenty of the Cats' best players found form on a wet and cold autumn afternoon at the MCG. Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins and Tyson Stengle all had a lick of the ice cream. 

The Cats now head to South Australia to face West Coast at the Adelaide Oval next Sunday and should return to Geelong 2-3. 

MRO concern for Meek?
Lloyd Meek floored Mark Blicavs in a centre square bounce that brought play to a standstill after the veteran Cat copped a knee to the ribs. Carlton ruckman Tom De Koning was charged by the MRO for a similar incident that led to Rhys Stanley missing the clash against Gold Coast in round three. De Koning successfully had the charge dismissed at the Tribunal, but the ruck issue will be back on the agenda.


Henry responds
Ollie Henry was the talk of the town in Geelong after a strong summer and eye-catching pre-season form, but Chris Scott didn't mess around at selection after three straight losses. The Cats dropped Henry from the 22, along with Tanner Bruhn in an early-season statement. Bruhn played in the early game, starring in the VFL with 34 disposals and seven clearances to put his hand up for an instant return next weekend. Henry responded when he entered the game, with 2.2 and seven score involvements from seven disposals in the third quarter alone, after replacing Jed Bews at half-time.

Early Coleman watch
No-one has kicked more than 80 goals in a home and away season since Brendan Fevola booted 86 in 2009, a year after Lance Franklin kicked the last ton. No-one has even reached 70 goals across the past six years, with Charlie Curnow winning the Coleman Medal in 2022 with 64 next to his name. Right now, the Carlton star has 16 on the board from four games. Jeremy Cameron has 18 after slotting seven majors on Easter Monday. If they continue at this pace, they will break 90, given there is an extra round in 2023. They couldn't go near 100, could they?


GEELONG              3.2     4.3     14.8     19.13 (127)
HAWTHORN          3.3     5.6      5.6        6.9 (45)

Geelong: Cameron 7, O.Henry 2, Hawkins 2, Close 2, Stengle 2, O'Connor, Holmes, Rohan, Dangerfield
Hawthorn: Breust 3, Greene 2, Amon

Geelong: Cameron, Duncan, Holmes, Dangerfield, Stewart, Miers
Hawthorn: Breust, Day, Ward, Impey

Geelong: Blicavs (ribs), Bews (concussion)
Hawthorn: Nash (head)

Geelong: Ollie Henry (replaced Jed Bews at half-time)
Hawthorn: Chad Wingard (replaced Tyler Brockman in third quarter)

Crowd: 65,335 at the MCG