GUN RECRUIT Isaac Smith won his way into the hearts of Geelong fans in the blink of an eye with an incredible match-winning snap to clinch victory in a classic over Brisbane on Friday night.
However, the Lions were deprived of their own chance to steal the win in the last 30 seconds with Zac Bailey not awarded a holding-the-ball free kick on Cat Mark Blicavs near the goal line.
The Cats trailed by three points inside the final four minutes as Tom Hawkins took the ball out of the ruck to find Smith on his non-preferred right boot and send the GMHBA Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
Looking to snap an 18-year hoodoo at the venue, the Lions then had their own chances to hit the front with medical substitute Keidean Coleman missing a snap before Bailey laid a big tackle on Blicavs.
The Geelong defender was dispossessed in what could've been deemed a throw before the Cats rushed a behind to hold on for an extraordinary 12.9 (81) to 11.14 (80) win that came after a fiery first half.
Cats skipper Joel Selwood (27 disposals, two goals) was brilliant in the midfield in the absence of suspended superstar Patrick Dangerfield, while Eric Hipwood (four goals) was his side's best.
Cats forward Gary Rohan will be looked at for a swinging arm on Brisbane's Lachie Neale in the opening quarter which prompted a war of words with Geelong coach Chris Scott and senior Lions players at the first break.
Neale was well held by Irishman Mark O'Connor in a surprise tag, recording just three disposals in the first half.
CATS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The Cats led by as much as 25 points early in the third quarter, a result of a dominant first half around the clearances and the Lions' early inaccuracy.
FORCED TO ISOLATE Lions caught up in COVID scare
Hipwood kicked 3.3 to half-time and could've had a bag of six as he dominated his one-on-one match-up with Jake Kolodjashnij.
Lions ruckman Oscar McInerney was taken out of the game midway through the final quarter with an ankle injury he suffered in the opening term and replaced by Coleman.
But it didn't stop the young Lions who continued to up their pressure with four straight goals, including a wonderful snap from Tom Berry while off-balance and the go-ahead major from a quiet Joe Daniher before the Cats stole the win through Smith.
Smith the difference for Geelong… again
This time Isaac Smith was wearing the right jumper. The triple-premiership Hawk kicked a behind after the siren off his left boot in the 2016 qualifying final against to hand the Cats a famous victory. But on Friday night it was his right boot that did the talking as the first-year recruit received a handball from Tom Hawkins at a ruck contest deep in attack to clinch the victory with a snap. And Cats stopper Mark O'Connor revealed post-match that Smith pulled him out of the stoppage to insert himself into the match-winning moment.
Rohan's nervous MRO wait
Geelong forward Gary Rohan will learn his fate from the Match Review Officer on Saturday after flooring Lachie Neale in the opening term. Rohan was left dazed with Neale having collected him just moments earlier in a contest before the Cat retaliated off the ball. His swinging right arm on Neale left the Lions midfielder clutching for his jaw. As Neale got to his feet he signalled three fingers to the Cat, in a potential sign as to how many weeks he predicts he may miss. Geelong skipper Joel Selwood could also be looked at for a dumping tackle on Lion Tom Berry after a free kick which resulted in a 50m penalty.
Irish influence shuts out Neale
Lachie Neale was forced to play as a forward to start the third quarter, such was the impact of Cat Mark O'Connor in shutting out the Lions gun in the first half. Typically a defender, O'Connor was deployed to follow Neale from the opening centre bounce and kept the reigning Brownlow medallist statless in the second term. Neale didn't record a single clearance in the opening half and finished with 16 disposals as he got into the contest late compared to O'Connor's 15.
GEELONG 5.3 8.5 11.8 12.9 (81)
BRISBANE 2.5 4.9 7.11 11.14 (80)
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Tuohy 2, Evans 2, Selwood 2, Miers, Clark, Smith
Brisbane: Hipwood 4, Cameron 2, Lyons, McCluggage, McCarthy, T.Berry, Daniher
Geelong: Selwood, Tuohy, Hawkins, Stewart, C.Guthrie, Stanley
Brisbane: Hipwood, McCluggage, Lyons, Zorko, Rich, Birchall
Brisbane: J.Berry (soreness) replaced in selected side by Prior, McInerney (ankle)
Geelong: K.Coleman (replaced McInerney)
Brisbane: Z.Guthrie (unused)
Crowd: 20,070 at GMHBA Stadium