GEELONG has kept its top-two hopes alive with a 28-point win over Adelaide in round 13.
The scoreline was not indicative of the battle the Cats faced as the Crows trailed by just nine points heading into the last term thanks to a goal from David Mackay after the three-quarter time siren.
>> WATCH THE MATCH HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Adelaide applied intense pressure across the first three quarters, but fell away in the final term as the Cats walked away with an 9.11 (65) to 5.7 (37) victory.
The Cats have been a strong finishing team throughout 2020 and a goalless final term for the Crows was indicative of the way Geelong can control the game when it needs to.
CATS LEAVE IT LATE Full match coverage and stats
Geelong duo Cameron Guthrie (33 disposals) and Sam Menegola (24 disposals) further pushed their cases for Virgin Australia AFL All Australian selection, while Matt Crouch (22 disposals and 14 tackles) was the pick of the Crows' midfielders.
Jack Steven played his best game in the blue and white hoops, racking up 24 disposals and benefitting with more midfield minutes in Joel Selwood's absence, but suffered a knock to the knee in the final moments of the game.
Taylor Walker showed intent with four tackles in his 200th game, but he'll have to wait a little while longer to overtake Tony Modra as Adelaide's all-time leading goalkicker as the ex-skipper was held goalless for the fifth time this year.
The Cats are set for an intriguing battle against the Bulldogs next Friday, while the Crows will have a chance to reset with a bye in round 14.
Everything Nicks would have wanted, except the points
Adelaide couldn't have come out with more fire and effort in the early stages of the game. Taylor Walker and Darcy Fogarty were laying fierce tackles, the ball movement was rapid and through dangerous areas – it was everything Crows coach Matthew Nicks would have wanted. But Geelong's maturity showed by slowing the game down and racking up uncontested marks when it needed to. All the Crows needed to be was a little cleaner with the ball, but there were plenty of positives to look back on.
Crows expose chink in Cats' armour
Geelong came into round 13 averaging the second-most centre clearances across the League, while Adelaide sat last in that stat. But at half-time the Crows led the centre clearances battle 6-1 and generated six of their seven scoring shots in the first half from stoppages. Cats coach Chris Scott asked for a lift in that area at the main break and Geelong ended up level as both sides finished with seven centre clearances for the match.
Hawkins v Hartigan a brilliant battle
Kyle Hartigan was tasked with taking on the most in-form forward in the League in Tom Hawkins and he couldn't have done a better job in the early stages. Hawkins' only goal in the first half came from a tough set shot, as Hartigan mixed up his tactics to stop the Cats star on the lead. Hawkins got off the leash in the second half and finished with three goals, but was held to just four marks after 10 the week prior.
ADELAIDE 1.3 3.4 5.6 5.7 (37)
GEELONG 3.2 4.5 6.9 9.11 (65)
Adelaide: Stengle, Sloane, Schoenberg, McAdam, Mackay
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Stanley 2, Duncan 2, Blicavs, Rohan
Adelaide: M.Crouch, Laird, O'Brien, Mackay, Sloane, Hartigan
Geelong: C.Guthrie, Steven, Menegola, Duncan, Dangerfield, Hawkins
Adelaide: McAdam (hamstring)
Geelong: Steven (knee)