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Geelong grinds it out as Freo slips from top four

Highlights: Geelong v Fremantle The Cats and Dockers clash in round 14
Geelong's Josh Hunt with the ball during the 2013 AFL Round 14 match between the Geelong Cats and the Fremantle Dockers at Simonds Stadium, Geelong on June 29, 2013. (Photo: David Callow/AFL Media)
Geelong's Josh Hunt in action against Fremantle on Saturday night
GEELONG rebounded from its embarrassing loss to the Brisbane Lions and regained a spot in the top two by scoring a 41-point victory over Fremantle at Simonds Stadium on Saturday night.

The Cats were only 10 points up at the long break, but held the Dockers to just three goals in the second half while piling on 6.12, and ran out 11.19 (85) to 7.2 (44) winners.

Chris Scott's men had 35 inside-50s to seven after half-time, and the margin would have been far greater if not for their inaccuracy in front of goal.

Five talking points: Geelong v Fremantle

Fremantle went into the game averaging only 66 points against this season, and Ross Lyon's men attempted to reduce the game to a defensive grind.

It worked initially, but Geelong took complete control in the third quarter, holding Freo scoreless and to just one inside-50.

However, the Cats finished the term with a 2.10 scoreline, which meant the door was still slightly ajar at the final change.

In the end, the wastefulness mattered little, as Geelong comfortably recorded its first win over the Dockers since round two, 2011.

"After half-time I thought they monstered us around the ball and clearances, locked it in their front half, and that was the story of the day, really," was Lyon's summation of the contest. 

The victory propelled Scott's team back above Essendon and into second place on the ladder.

Geelong set up its victory by dominating the contested possession count 185 to 125. The Cats, who went into the game ranked last for clearances, also won that stat 40 to 33.

"We thought we played the way we talked about playing," Scott explained.

"It was one thing to put in the work during the week and be really clear about what we wanted from each other, but it's another thing to actually get out there an execute against a really good team.

"There are some good signs there.

"We were embarrassed after the (loss to the Lions), and we've been questioned on the defensive side of our game.

"And that stings. I'm not saying the criticism is unwarranted; in fact, I'm saying the opposite."

Key defender Harry Taylor, who blanketed Dockers youngster Matt Taberner and took numerous intercept marks, was among the stars for the home side.

Midfielder Jimmy Bartel was an outstanding contributor, as were fellow onballers Allen Christensen and Mitch Duncan.

Taylor Hunt did an impressive tagging job on Freo dasher Stephen Hill, while Dawson Simpson and Mark Blicavs, who carried the rucking load in the absence of Trent West and Nathan Vardy, had the better of Zac Clarke.

Simpson even managed to boot the first goal of his AFL career during the final quarter, his galloping run towards the big sticks drawing a huge cheer from the blue and white faithful.

Big forward Tom Hawkins, who found himself constantly battling two or three Freo backmen but still managed to kick two majors, also played a key role in Geelong's triumph.

Once again without veteran stars Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle badly missed the hardness and ball-winning ability of injured midfielders David Mundy and Michael Barlow.

The Dockers were also hit hard by fresh injuries, with defender Paul Duffield subbed out of the game during the second quarter after straining his calf.

Michael Johnson appeared to badly injure his knee not long after Duffield went down, but he managed to return and play out the game.

Ryan Crowley, who was booed all night by the Geelong supporters (as was Hayden Ballantyne), restricted Cats skipper Joel Selwood to just 13 possessions.

Fremantle, who has slipped six points behind Geelong in the battle for the top two places on the ladder, will be confident of turning its fortunes around when it takes on Lyon's former club, St Kilda, at Patersons Stadium next Sunday.

Geelong will be aiming to win its 11th straight game against Hawthorn when it takes on the ladder leaders at the MCG next Saturday night.

Jimmy Bartel comes under close attention from Chris Mayne and Hayden Crozier. Photo: AFL Media

GEELONG           3.4   5.7    7.16   11.19   (85)                  
FREMANTLE      0.2   4.2     4.2      7.2      (44)          
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Motlop 2, Corey 2, Bartel, T.Hunt, Podsiadly, Murdoch, Simpson
Fremantle: Walters 3, Mzungu, Sheridan, Taberner, Mayne
Geelong: Taylor, Bartel. Christensen, Hunt, Mackie, Duncan
Fremantle: Crowley, Fyfe, D.Pearce, Mzungu
Geelong: Josh Hunt (ill)
Fremantle: Lee Spurr (ill) replaced in selected side by Viv Michie. Paul Duffield (calf)
Geelong: Jordan Murdoch replaced Josh Hunt in thethird quarter
Fremantle: Viv Michie replaced Paul Duffield in the second quarter
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Stewart, Nicholls, Meredith
Official crowd: 26,743 at Simonds Stadium
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs