Oliver Dempsey celebrates during the round one match between Geelong and St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium, March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG captain Patrick Dangerfield has kicked a long-range goal in the final minute to lift the inaccurate Cats to a tense eight-point win over St Kilda in their season opener.

Three quick Saints goals in time-on had cut the margin to one point with time left to complete an incredible comeback, but Geelong won the next centre clearance to gain field position and Dangerfield intercepted a hurried St Kilda defensive clearance on the 50 metre line.

CATS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats

The Cats champion held his nerve to seal the 10.16 (76) to 9.14 (68) victory in front of a record 39,352 fans at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.


Dangerfield (25 disposals, eight clearances) was hugely influential, supported well by Tanner Bruhn (20, six) and Max Holmes, who finished with 24 touches and 683 metres gained.

Jeremy Cameron dazzled with two brilliant first-half goals and young forward Ollie Dempsey shone with three goals and nine score involvements.


St Kilda was gallant but slumped to a 12th straight loss in Geelong, where they haven't won since 1999.

Saints captain Jack Steele (25 disposals, nine clearances) fought hard in a losing cause and Tim Membrey kicked three goals in his first game since his shock late withdrawal from an elimination final last September because of a personal health matter.


Max King kicked two goals, as did highly-rated teenager Darcy Wilson on debut.

The Saints lost Liam Stocker midway through the last quarter when he was hurt in a huge collision with Dangerfield.

Before the first bounce, Geelong officially opened the new Joel Selwood Stand in honour of their record-breaking former captain.

Joel Selwood before the round one match between Geelong and St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium on March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Membrey briefly silenced the home fans when he kicked the first major, but Cameron brought them to their feet with his first-quarter Goal of the Year contender.

The key forward pounced on a loose ball and burst through congestion on the wing, chipped a kick forward to Brad Close, ran on to receive a return handpass and kicked truly on the run near the boundary line.

Cameron leapt onto the fence and pumped his fist to the adoring home crowd in celebration.


He added a second brilliant goal from the boundary - stepping around to nail a curling set shot - as the Cats flexed their muscle for a period of the second quarter.

Three consecutive goals stretched the margin to 24 points, but it was back to 13 by the main break despite the Cats dominating the inside-50 count (36-19).

A wasteful Geelong kicked 0.6 in the third term - just their sixth goalless quarter in 403 under Chris Scott at GMHBA Stadium - to the Saints' 1.3.

Membrey kicked the first goal of the final term before three straight Cats goals looked to have sealed the result.

But quick goals to Cooper Sharman, King and Wilson cut the margin back to one point in the dying stages before Dangerfield kicked the match-winner.


Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, oy, oy, oy!
After two games in his debut season of 2022, Oliver Dempsey was handed five more last year, three of which he started as Geelong's sub, and sat with just two career goals from those first seven matches. However, he showed enough at VFL level to get a two-year contract extension, and if anyone thought the Cats jumped early, they will have lost those doubts on Saturday night. Dempsey kicked three goals for the night and proved a real point of difference in a forward line dominated for so long by Jack Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron. Add in an obvious joyful exuberance and it looks like there's yet another crowd favourite at GMHBA Stadium.

Oliver Dempsey greets fans after the round one match between Geelong and St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium, March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

25 years and counting
Geelong's home ground has always been one of the league's most formidable 'fortresses', but no team has suffered inside the Kardinia Park gates like St Kilda, the club not having saluted down the highway this century, their last win coming in round 10, 1999. With two minutes left in the match and all the momentum behind them, it looked like the curse of the 21st century was going to be broken in spectacular fashion, but ultimately the Saints were once again denied.

Callum Wilkie looks dejected after a loss in the round one match between Geelong and St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium, March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Young Saint shows he's got what it takes
Ross Lyon will no doubt take away some consolation in the performance of first-gamer Darcy Wilson. St Kilda took the Murray Bushrangers midfielder with its first pick, No.18 overall, in last year's draft and all at the club were impressed with the teenager's pre-season. Wilson didn't dominate but he did immediately look comfortable at the level, his first goal a teaser of a great career to come. However, it was his second that will make Ross smile. It may have been a close-range set shot, but it came after making perfect position for a Max King pass, and the cool finish split the sticks to bring it back to a one-point contest with just moments left in the game.



GEELONG    2.3    6.7    6.13    10.16 (76)
ST KILDA    1.5    4.6     5.9      9.14 (68)

Geelong: Dempsey 3, Cameron 2, Close, Dangerfield, Tuohy, O.Henry, Hawkins
St Kilda: Membrey 3, Wilson 2, King 2, Phillipou, Sharman

Geelong: Holmes, Dangerfield, Dempsey, Stewart, Cameron, Duncan
St Kilda: Wanganeen-Milera, Steele, Marshall, Membrey, Bonner, King

Geelong: TBC
St Kilda: Stocker (back)


Geelong: Shaun Mannagh, replaced Tyson Stengle at three-quarter time
St Kilda: Lance Collard, replaced Seb Ross in the third quarter.

Crowd: 39,352  at GMHBA Stadium