Tom Hawkins celebrates a goal during the round six clash between Geelong and Sydney at GMHBA Stadium on April 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

IT'S RARE a Grand Final rematch becomes a Grand Final replay.

But that's essentially what happened at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night, Geelong demolishing Sydney by 93 points in a 20.10 (130) to 5.7 (37) rout, holding the Swans to just three behinds in the second half.

Retired skipper Joel Selwood raised the premiership flag for the first time, and the party kicked off from that point onwards.

CATS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

Given its severely undermanned backline, Sydney's best chance of winning this game rested with its midfield and starving the Cats' forwards of the footy, but the home side's engine room was just too strong around the ground.


The clearance battle was relatively even, but the Cats linked up well across the field, dominating disposals and inside 50s, exposing the Swans' lack of healthy key position players at both ends of the field.

Sydney midfielder Callum Mills (86kg) has some previous experience in defence, but was forced to stand the might of Tom Hawkins (105kg) for two-and-a-half quarters, the hometown hero booting three goals in the first half and five for the match.


The margin at quarter-time of last year's Grand Final was 41-6, and while the gap wasn't quite so stark, Swans fans would be well within their rights to anticipate how the rest of the match was going to play out, given the 39-12 lead Geelong took into the first break.

NOT REQUIRED STANDARD Longmire at a loss to explain Swans' capitulation

The Cats' accuracy helped them hit cruise control in the second, easing out to a 50-point lead, but the Swans carried some momentum late, peppering the goals and scoring two consecutive majors, the visitors with seven scoring shots to five for the term.


Mills was thrown into the middle halfway through the third term and immediately won a clearance, the injection of sub and key back Will Gould (for Matt Roberts, knee) allowing the switch to be made.

Sydney was at its best when it could run, carry and break lines, something that was rarely afforded to it by the disciplined full-ground defence of Geelong on the narrow confines of Kardinia Park.


Luke Parker and Chad Warner worked hard throughout the game, while James Rowbottom kept the intensity up with 10 tackles and Errol Gulden was a constant spark from siren to siren, pushing up the ground to provide a link.

The MRO is likely to look at a collision between Mitch Duncan and Robbie Fox in the third term, which saw Duncan bump a low-sliding Fox, hitting the Swan's head with his arm. Fox took his free kick and played out the game.


Rucking fun and games
Geelong swung a late change (as is its want), bringing in mid-sized forward Sam Simpson for his first game since the qualifying final of 2021. He replaced Jon Ceglar, who had come into the side for Rhys Stanley (eye socket). It left Blicavs to carry the ruck load, with support from an unexpected source in young key back Sam De Koning. While Peter Ladhams dominated the raw hitouts number, Blicavs was unsurprisingly strong in the clearances, and De Koning had the better of fellow support ruck Hayden McLean. In a lovely moment, Simpson kicked the opening goal of the game after a year sidelined with serious concussion issues.


Could Jezza claim the double?
It was another imperious performance from the Coleman Medal leader, Jeremy Cameron nailing another five goals from 17 disposals and six marks. Given his highly impressive start to the season, it begs the question, could he possibly top the goalkicking tally and win the Brownlow medal? Along with Marcus Bontempelli, he's the in-form player of the first six rounds.

Jeremy Cameron in action during the round six clash between Geelong and Sydney at GMHBA Stadium on April 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Eerie Grand Final parallels
While the Swans were missing virtually an entire backline (and one Lance Franklin) from the team which played in last year's Grand Final, the on-field results were weirdly similar. The third term last year saw the Cats kick 6.2 to 0.1, and Saturday's equivalent resulted in 7.2 to again, 0.1. Even odder is the fact midfield staple Cam Guthrie was subbed off in both matches.


GEELONG     6.3     11.3     18.5     20.10 (130)
SYDNEY        2.0     5.4     5.5     5.7 (37) 

Geelong: Hawkins 5, Cameron 5, Simpson 2, O. Henry 2, Close 2, Blicavs, Dangerfield, Rohan, Tuohy
Sydney: Hayward 2, Papley, Heeney, Stephens 

Geelong: Dangerfield, Cameron, Blicavs, Hawkins, C.Guthrie, Holmes
Sydney: Warner, Parker, Gulden, Lloyd 

Geelong: Nil
Sydney: Matt Roberts (knee) 

Geelong: Jon Ceglar replaced in selected side by Sam Simpson
Sydney: Nil 

Geelong: Mitch Knevitt (replaced Cam Guthrie in the fourth quarter)
Sydney: Will Gould (replaced Matt Roberts in the second quarter)

Crowd: 23,134 at GMHBA Stadium