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Cats' purrfect farewell to departing veterans

Highlights: Geelong v Adelaide The Cats and Crows clash in round 23
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 5: Steven Motlop of the Cats pushes Patrick Dangerfield of the Crows during the 2015 AFL round 23 match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium, Geelong, Australia on September 5, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Steve Motlop pushes Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield during the Cats' comfortable win

GEELONG has sent off its departing premiership trio in style with a resounding 39-point win over Adelaide at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

At the end of a tough week that saw Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Mathew Stokes told their contracts would not be renewed, the Cats came out purring, kicking five goals in the first quarter to set up the win.

WATCH: Departing stars bid farewell

They eventually ran out winners 17.17 (119) to Adelaide's 11.14 (80) and celebrated a Johnson mark and goal late in the last quarter with a group hug involving every Cat on the ground.

The mercurial Johnson finished with 2.6, Stokes had 33 disposals and a goal while Kelly had 30 disposals and nine tackles.

The final curtain falls

All three played well in their final games in Cats colours, reminding everyone what great players they had been in their prime.

At times in the last quarter the Cats played as though it was football's version of muck-up day, as the team didn't have finals to contemplate for the first time since 2006.

By contrast, Adelaide's manic pressure was missing in the beginning, allowing the Cats 19 more marks in the first-half, conceding space and territory more easily than they would have wanted.

Adelaide fought back with the first five goals of the third quarter to get within a point but the Cats kicked clear and were never headed.

The Cats played their best football for a month in the first half, dominating the clearances, sharing the ball and hitting the scoreboard.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said the team found a good balance between enjoying the day and ensuring they played to win.

"There are things that you need to do to ensure you play well against a high quality opposition but we want to play aggressively, be bold with the ball and take a few risks, accept that it might not always work but whatever happened we're not going to die wondering," Scott said.

Skipper Joel Selwood led the way with 14 disposals and a goal at quarter-time. Andrew Mackie was brilliant, his ball use one of the game's highlights.

By half-time Josh Cowan and Nathan Vardy (who kicked three) also had goals as they joined Daniel Menzel in the senior side for the first time since round 11, 2011.

Adelaide would not lie down, however, with the chance of a home final still alive if the Western Bulldogs lost to the Brisbane Lions.

They had lifted around the ball with Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson, Matt Crouch and Rory Laird influential in the middle and Eddie Betts and Tom Lynch getting dangerous inside 50.

With a point the difference late in the third quarter they looked to be storming over the Cats.

A stoppage goal from Cam Guthrie led to a set shot goal from Josh Walker, who had started as the sub before kicking three goals, which stretched the lead again.


The Crows looked to put the cue in the rack after that happened.

Caretaker coach Scott Camporeale said they would try to take positives out of the disappointing result.

"We played 20 minutes of footy and in that that 20 minutes we got more reinforcement about how we want to play. But to Geelong's credit they were too good for the other three quarters," Camporeale said.

"That's the learning lesson and that's what we'll take away from it."

Dangerfield had 14 contested possessions and 25 disposals but looked, like many of his teammates, to have finals on his mind by the end. When he had a set shot on the siren, the Cats fans stood and cheered him, hopeful of enticing him to the Cats.

The Crows have one injury worry ahead of next week's final, with defender Brodie Smith subbed out of the game after suffering a left ankle injury in the first half. He was in a moonboot immediately. 

Steve Johnson and Mathew Stokes feel the emotion as they sing the Cats' song. Picture: AFL Media 

GEELONG     5.6     8.9     11.11     17.17 (119)
ADELAIDE     1.3     3.6     9.12     11.14 (80)                

Geelong: Vardy 3, Walker 3, Hawkins 3, Johnson 2, Cowan, Selwood, Horlin-Smith, Guthrie, Mackie, Stokes 
Adelaide: Betts 4, Lynch 2, Smith, Sloane, Walker, Thompson, Jenkins

Mackie, Selwood, Guthrie, Enright, Vardy, Kelly, Stokes
Adelaide: Betts, Jacobs, Henderson, Sloane, Dangerfield, Douglas, Laird

Adelaide: Smith (left ankle)

Geelong: Josh Walker replaced Daniel Menzel in the third quarter
Adelaide: Jarryd Lyons replaced Brodie Smith (left ankle) in the first quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Findlay, McInerney

Official crowd: 26,128 at Simonds Stadium