JUST when you thought the Hawks were out of the finals race, they pull themselves back in.
Hawthorn's 24-point win over Geelong on Sunday had reverberations around the competition, and not least for the Hawks themselves.
The 12.13 (85) to 8.13 (61) result keeps them with a chance of making September, now just one win outside of the top eight.
And it also keeps the race for a spot in the top two on the ladder well and truly alive, as Geelong's post-bye stumbles continued with its third loss from its past five games.
HAWKS STAY ALIVE Full match coverage and stats
Brisbane and West Coast, who are also eyeing a home qualifying final like the Cats, would have been delighted with the efforts of Alastair Clarkson's men.
As would 'Clarko' himself. Aside from some patches of play in the third term, Hawthorn dominated the premiership favourites for most of the MCG contest.
Young key forward pairing Tim O'Brien and Mitch Lewis, who both booted three goals, were vital in the victory, with O'Brien playing one of the best games of his career at the Hawks.
200-gamer Liam Shiels had a milestone to remember, kicking two goals from 29 disposals and seven clearances, while Ben McEvoy was commanding in the ruck with 13 disposals and 44 hitouts.
Geelong appeared off the boil. Mitch Duncan (26 disposals, one goal) tried hard to get the Cats going, as did superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield (27 disposals, six clearances), but they never could get the game on their terms.
Hawthorn had the upper hand from the outset. Lewis and O'Brien were threats in the air, and both booted a goal in the opening term as Hawthorn headed into the second quarter with an 11-point buffer.
The loss of Jarman Impey in the first minute of the second term, to what appeared a serious knee injury, didn't quell the Hawks.
The Cats threatened to show a sharper edge, particularly with Tim Kelly working into the game and booting a silky goal.
But Hawthorn continued to respond, and when James Worpel strolled into an open goal, thanks to a selfless pass from Lewis, the Hawks had gotten the reward for their dominance.
Hawthorn led by 23 points at the main change, but it could have been more.
O'Brien played one of the best games of his career. Picture: AFL Photos
The warning signs were there for the Cats in all of the numbers. The Hawks had 13 inside-50 entries in the second term for 12 scoring shots (3.9).
If not for Hawthorn's inaccuracy, the game would have been over by half-time.
Hawthorn had registered 12 inside-50 marks to the Cats' three in the first half, shutting down Geelong's forward flyers while negating their damaging back half.
A goal in the opening minute of the third term saw Hawthorn extend its lead to a game-high 29 points, but that got Geelong revving.
Its midfield stars, led by Dangerfield, Duncan and Joel Selwood lifted, as recruits Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus got involved. All of a sudden, the Cats were back within 11 points and looking dangerous.
'IT'S A LONG TIME UNTIL THE FINALS' Scott not concerned about form slump
Hawthorn settled to take a 19-point lead into the final change, but that was fortunate: Geelong missed three simple set shots late in the term, and a relatively straightforward snap from Zach Tuohy, in the dying moments of the third quarter.
It proved costly. Lewis' checkside goal in the final seconds sealed the upset win, and gave them a sniff of finals action. Sometimes, as Sunday showed, a sniff is all the Hawks need.
Lewis (right) kicked three goals against the Cats. Picture: AFL Photos
Geelong: Defender Tom Stewart left the field in some pain in the third quarter and had his hip assessed, but returned to play out the contest. There didn't appear any major concerns for the Cats.
Hawthorn: There will be fears for Impey, given the serious hyperextension he suffered with his right knee in that second-quarter incident. The Hawks will be hopeful he has avoided major damage, but he did not reappear on the interchange bench afterwards, leaving the Hawks with three rotations for most of the game.
Stewart came back after hurting his hip. Picture: AFL Photos
Hawthorn meets Brisbane in Tasmania next week in a big clash for both clubs on Saturday afternoon. Geelong will travel to Sydney to tackle the Swans on Sunday at the SCG.
GEELONG 2.2 4.5 7.10 8.13 (61)
HAWTHORN 4.1 7.10 10.11 12.13 (85)
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Clark, Ablett, Kelly, Duncan, Rohan, Dahlhaus
Hawthorn: O'Brien 3, Lewis 3, Gunston 2, Shiels 2, Hanrahan, Worpel
Geelong: Duncan, Guthrie, Dangerfield, Tuohy, Hawkins
Hawthorn: Shiels, O’Meara, O’Brien, Worpel, Scully, Lewis
Hawthorn: Birchall (soreness) replaced in selected side by Howe, Impey (knee)
Umpires: Nicholls, Hosking, Mitchell
Official crowd: 53,636 at the MCG