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2021 Toyota AFL Premiership
Semi Finals • Geelong Cats v GWS Giants
103 15.13
Full Time Cats by 35
68 10.8
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    NO MORE CHANCES: Giants forward OUT, can Cats avoid straight-sets exit?

    Geelong and GWS in a blockbuster fight for their finals lives

    Follow it LIVE: Geelong v GWS Giants in a do-or-die semi-final from 5.50pm AWST. Picture: AFL Media

    GREATER Western Sydney has swung a major late change for Friday night's semi-final against Geelong with Jesse Hogan succumbing to yet another calf injury. 

    He will be replaced in the starting side by former captain Phil Davis with mid-season draftee James Peatling the Giants' medical sub. 

    The Cats will enter as named with Zach Guthrie chosen as their starting sub over Shaun Higgins. 

    LATE CHANGES
    Greater Western Sydney: Jesse Hogan (calf) replaced in selected side by Phil Davis

    MEDICAL SUBS
    Geelong: Zach Guthrie
    Greater Western Sydney: James Peatling

    Hogan missed eight weeks with a calf setback sustained in May having initially sat out the opening six matches of the season with a quad injury. 

    It comes as a major blow after he booted two critical goals in his first career final against Sydney last week. 

    It leaves Leon Cameron with Davis, Sam Taylor, Nick Haynes, Jake Stein and Connor Idun as key defensive options meaning one may be pushed forward. - Mitch Cleary

    CATS v GIANTS Follow all the action LIVE in our match centre

    SUMMARY

    Geelong is in an all-too-familiar position after losing in the first week of finals for the fifth consecutive season. This time, it has also lost three of the past four matches, starting with a loss to Greater Western Sydney in round 21. The Giants have won their past four matches starting with that victory over the Cats, each of them essentially a knockout final in a late-season charge. Patrick Dangerfield will play despite a hand injury while veteran defender Zach Touhy has replaced Mark O'Connor (hamstring). Crucially for the Cats, Tom Stewart remains sidelined. The Giants will be missing Toby Greene, Tom Green (arm), and Sam Reid (hamstring), but they have showed recently that they know how to beat the Cats even when undermanned.

    Where and when: Optus Stadium, Friday September 3, 5.50pm AWST
    The teams: Latest selections here

    04:58 Mins
    Published on

    Match Previews Finals W2: Geelong v GWS Giants

    Sportsbet's Nathan Brown, Matthew Richardson and Matthew Lloyd preview the game between the Cats and Giants at Optus Stadium

    Published on

    WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR? 

    Round 21: Greater Western Sydney 13.6 (84) def Geelong 8.17 (65) at GMHBA Stadium

    The Giants were playing off a five-day break and had to make eight changes to their team but stormed out with a four-goal-to-one opening term. The Cats came home strong to get within nine points in the final term but the Giants steadied to complete a stunning victory. Stand-in skipper Toby Greene was the driving force with four goals but was later suspended for one match for striking Patrick Dangerfield.

    00:30 Mins
    Published on

    Is Greene in trouble for this high elbow on Dangerfield?

    Patrick Dangerfield leaves the field in pain after copping a hit to his throat from Giant Toby Greene

    Published on

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR

    Geelong
    Several Cats will be desperate to bounce back from yet another disappointing display in the first week of finals and none more so than Patrick Dangerfield. The Cats superstar had nine turnovers in 23 disposals and it remains to be seen how much a fracture on his right hand is limiting his impact. Gary Rohan was shifted to half-back last week but should start forward again where he will want to prove that he can step up in September. Rohan now averages fewer than nine touches and 0.67 goals in 21 finals. Joel Selwood is breaking Geelong's all-time games record and there is no doubt the warrior captain will make his mark.

    Greater Western Sydney
    A forward line without Toby Greene (average 2.5 goals) will be less potent and creative but the Giants will hope they still have the firepower to worry a Cats defence missing Tom Stewart. Jesse Hogan claimed a career-high six contested marks and kicked two goals in his first final, while Harry Himmelberg (32 goals) has had perhaps his most consistent season. Reliable set shots Daniel Lloyd and Zach Sproule are usually good for a few goals too. And the dynamic Bobby Hill comes into the team.

    GWS forward Jesse Hogan celebrates a goal against Sydney in a 2021 elimination final. Picture: AFL Photos

    THE STATS THAT MATTER

    Geelong
    The Cats have a horrible record in the first week of finals but have at least been able to turn it around to win each of their past three semi-finals. For all that the Cats like to retain the ball and control the game with uncontested marks and disposals they have only failed to win the contested ball count five times this season – and lost each of those matches including to the Giants in round 21. 

    Greater Western Sydney
    The battle-hardened Giants have now won at least once in each of the five finals series they have played. No team has let in more inside 50s this season than the Giants and while getting smashed in that count didn't quite cost them against the Swans last week (46-65) or Cats in round 21 (43-64), it will be a concern against a forward group that includes Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron.

    IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… 

    Geelong
    Jeremy Cameron was brought to the Cats to help them win big finals and will now have an opportunity to do just that in his first game against his former team. The key forward only kicked one goal last week but has averaged 2.7 this season (fourth-best in the League) and should be ready to fire in his fourth match back from a hamstring strain.

    Geelong's Jeremy Cameron is tackled by Port Adelaide's Scott Lycett in the 2021 second qualifying final. Picture: AFL Photos

    Greater Western Sydney
    Stephen Coniglio might be working his way back from a nasty toe injury but now has to find a way to inspire a team missing the talismanic Greene. The Giants captain had only 11 disposals at 46 per cent efficiency last week and needs to hit the scoreboard if he can't boost the midfield.

    GWS captain Stephen Coniglio after the 2021 elimination final win over Sydney. Picture: AFL Photos

    PREDICTION

    Geelong by 22 points. The Cats have a habit of bouncing back from first-week finals disappointments and should be too strong and settled for a Giants team again hit hard by suspension and injury.

    MATCH REPORT

    STILL ALIVE: Cats claw past gutsy Giants to book prelim berth

    Geelong is still in the finals hunt after knocking out Greater Western Sydney in the semi-final

    Geelong's Tom Hawkins celebrates a goal with Gryan Miers in the 2021 semi-final win over GWS. Picture: AFL Photos

    GEELONG star Tom Hawkins has kicked the Cats through to their fifth preliminary final in six years, booting five goals to overpower a persistent Greater Western Sydney by 35 points at Optus Stadium on Friday night.

    The Cats saw off a fourth-quarter rally from the injury-hit Giants to finally end their brave season, winning 15.13 (103) to 10.8 (68) and setting up preliminary final clash with Melbourne next Friday night in Perth.

    CATS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats

    Hawkins was magnificent, exacting revenge on opponent Sam Taylor and snuffing out the Giants' late challenge with three final-quarter goals to leave the Cats one win away from back-to-back Grand Finals.

    07:44 Mins
    Published on

    Highlights: Geelong v GWS

    The Cats and Giants clash in the Semi Finals

    Published on

    It was the 33-year-old's equal best finals return, with sidekick and former Giant Jeremy Cameron also finding some form early to boot two ahead of a clash with the Demons' vaunted backline.

    The Cats capitalised on their aerial advantage and broke the game open with five unanswered goals in a dominant third quarter, building a game-high 38-point lead. 

    But the Giants, in a style typical of their season, fought back and cut the margin to 20 points with three quick goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter.

    Hawkins then put his stamp on the contest, kicking his three goals from marks and high-quality set shots that restored the Cats' buffer and allowed them to celebrate Joel Selwood's record-breaking 333rd game in style.

    01:49 Mins
    Published on

    Five-star Tomahawk ends Giants' season

    Cats forward Tom Hawkins proved too dominant for the Giants with this five-goal display

    Published on

    Zach Tuohy (31 disposals and six rebound 50s) was outstanding and gave the Cats run all night, while Sam Menegola (29 and six clearances) pushed forward from the midfield to kick two goals.

    The Giants, who were best served by Lachie Whitfield (34 and 11 rebound 50s) and Nick Haynes (21 and nine marks), clearly missed the forward line spark of suspended star Toby Greene.

    They lacked targets in attack after key forward Jesse Hogan was withdrawn pre-game with a calf injury, taking just five marks inside 50 to the Cats' 13.

    PLAY HIM Just five touches, but this Cat MUST keep his spot against Demons

    They bow out after a fifth finals campaign under coach Leon Cameron that has delivered at least one win but not the ultimate success, ending a 73-day campaign on the road and away from their families.

    The absence of Hogan was obvious early as the Giants fought and scrapped for their opportunities without the key forward, who took five marks inside 50 last week. 

    At the other end of the ground, former Giant Cameron was involved in everything before kicking the opening goal 16 minutes in when opponent Jake Stein chopped his arms.

    00:33 Mins
    Published on

    Cameron breaks the drought against his former side

    Jeremy Cameron has finally broken the deadlock by kicking his first goal against his old team

    Published on

    Brad Close sent the Cats into quarter time 14 points clear but without midfielder Brandan Parfitt, who injured his left hamstring stretching for a tackle.

    The Giants, who were relying on a small, mobile forward line, enjoyed the first of their attacking runs in the second quarter when star midfielder Josh Kelly and then inclusion Conor Stone snapped goals to cut the margin to three points.

    But it was clear the Giants would have to work hard for their goals without effective marking targets.

    FIVE TALKING POINTS If ever the Giants needed their goals record holder

    To highlight the differences in personnel, the Cats went on a three-goal run, with tall targets Hawkins, Esava Ratugolea and Cameron all taking marks inside 50 and converting to open a game-high 22-point lead.

    It was the story of the game, as Geelong rediscovered its control game and eventually ground down the Giants, who will rue the self-inflicted obstacles placed in front of them.

    GEELONG                                          2.5   5.8   10.9  15.13 (103)
    GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY         0.3   3.5   5.7    10.8 (68)

    GOALS
    Geelong: Hawkins 5, Cameron 2, Rohan 2, Close 2, Menegola 2, Ratugolea, Smith
    Greater Western Sydney: Stone 2, Himmelberg 2, Kelly, Lloyd, Hill, Mumford, Haynes, Ward

    BEST
    Geelong: Hawkins, Tuohy, Menegola, C Guthrie, Smith, Dangerfield, Cameron
    Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Haynes, Hopper, Kelly, Ward, Mumford

    INJURIES
    Geelong: Parfitt (left hamstring), Hawkins (corked leg)
    Greater Western Sydney: Jesse Hogan (calf) replaced in the selected side by Phil Davis, Sproule (shoulder)

    SUBSTITUTES
    Geelong: Zach Guthrie (replaced Parfitt)
    Greater Western Sydney: James Peatling (replaced Sproule)

    Crowd: 44,091 at Optus Stadium

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