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Shaw injury compounds Swan woes as Cats warm up for September

Highlights: Geelong v Sydney Swans The Cats and Swans clash in round 22
Steven Motlop of the Cats celebrates a goal during the 2013 AFL Round 22 match between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans at Simonds Stadium, Geelong on August 24, 2013. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)
Steven Motlop celebrates a goal during Geelong's win over the Swans
GEELONG tightened its hold on second spot after defeating the Sydney Swans by 44 points at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. 

It opened up a four-goal lead by half-time and maintained the intensity to keep the Swans out of the contest. 

Geelong scored 13.14 (92) to the Sydney Swans 7.6 (48)

The Cats only have to beat the Brisbane Lions next week at Simonds Stadium to secure second spot. 

The Lions last beat Geelong at Simonds Stadium in round 6, 2003. 

This game was played at finals like intensity, but the Cats only sealed the deal when Travis Varcoe kicked his first goal at the 11-minute mark of the last quarter. 

Before that, the game was intense. 

In close the tackles were aggressive, the packs as chaotic as a Salvador Dali painting. 

The mere mortals on both teams relied on handball as a way to create space. It saw teams run at one kick, one handball pace for most of the game.

It was those individuals who worked outside the structure when the moment demanded that shaped the game however. 

Steven Motlop and Steve Johnson crumbed cleanly and used their evasive skills to separate themselves from the pack and kick goals. 

Paul Chapman came on temporarily in the first quarter as the concussion sub after ruckman Nathan Vardy was assessed for concussion because he received a heavy knock at a centre bounce three minutes into the game. 

Chapman's 14-minute cameo yielded nine disposals and one goal and the loudest first quarter cheers heard at the ground all year. 

Between them Motlop, Johnson and Chapman kicked eight of the team's 13 goals. 

Motlop also took a screamer in the last quarter over Mitch Duncan that will be hard to beat for mark of the year. 

Mathew Stokes, James Kelly and Joel Selwood were good around the packs as expected, but they outclassed the formidable Swans midfield. 

Up forward, the Sydney Swans did not have multiple avenues to goal. 

It relied on Kurt Tippett – who brought great form into the game with 23 goals in six weeks – and Mike Pyke to kick its three goals in the first half. 

Geelong had not flirted with Tippett, sending quality defender Harry Taylor to his side. 

Taylor, a great mark, was on his best behaviour spoiling first and then mopping up on the ground. 

If he didn't gather it he had a Brownlow medallist in Jimmy Bartel as his pillion passenger. Bartel was superb in the back pocket looking after Ryan O'Keefe. 

He had good support from underrated defender Cameron Guthrie, who used the ball superbly. 

"Our ability to absorb that pressure and stay on top of them was pretty good early," Scott said. "From a clearance perspective they did us for the raw numbers but I thought we were able to set up reasonably well and limit their scoring. They are the best side in the comp scoring from stoppages and I thought the way we set up to counter that was pivotal in the match."

It was at ground level inside 50 that the Sydney Swans struggled in comparison to the Cats.  

Gary Rohan, Tom Mitchell and Jed Lamb will be good players, but at the moment they are behind the Cats' swoopers. 

Jarrad McVeigh was excellent as a loose man in defence but he was fighting a lone battle. The ball was coming in quickly and at all angles. 

Tom Hawkins demanded it most, but his value was in the contest rather than in the air. He struggled again with his mobility and was subbed off, but still provided value in his time on the field. 

His presence allowed the Cats to score often from crumbs, although inaccuracy cost them. 

In the end the Cats overran the Swans and both Varcoe and Chapman played the sort of games to suggest Geelong will be very difficult to beat in September. 
Apart from losing Rhyce Shaw to injury the Swans will not be too perturbed. They lost to Geelong by 34 points in round 23 last season before going on to win the flag. 

With top four secured, the game was all about fine-tuning for September. 

"Clearly we've come up against a team that's in red hot form. They put enormous pressure on around the ball and they're as good a team going around and when they get that mix right they're very hard to beat.," Longmire said. 
"We came down here with eight players that didn't play at the end of last year and we all got a taste of what it's like to play the best at their best and that's certainly what happened today."

The Swans face Hawthorn in Sydney in the final round.

A knee injury has ruled out Rhyce Shaw on the eve of finals.      Image: AFL Media

GEELONG 4.4    6.9    8.12    13.14 (92)      
SYDNEY SWANS         2.2    3.2     5.5        7.6 (48)
Geelong: Johnson 4, Motlop 3, Selwood 2, Chapman, Varcoe, Vardy, Podsiadly
Sydney Swans: Pyke 3, McGlynn 2, Tippett, Hannebery, 
Geelong: Kelly, Stokes, Taylor, Johnson, Bartel, Guthrie, Duncan, Enright 
Sydney Swans: McVeigh, Richards, Jack, Kennedy, N Smith, 
Geelong: TBC
Sydney Swans: Rhyce Shaw (knee), Hannebery (knee), 
Geelong: Paul Chapman replaced Tom Hawkins at three-quarter time
Sydney Swans: Jed Lamb replaced Rhyce Shaw (knee) in the first quarter
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Rosebury, Nicholls, Pannell
Official crowd: 28,459 at Simonds Stadium

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs