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Top Cats hold off Hawks' late charge in blockbuster

Highlights: Hawthorn v Geelong The Hawks and Cats clash in round five

IT WAS Chris Scott's 'break glass in case of emergency' scenario.

After spending the first month of the season on a wing, Geelong captain Joel Selwood's return to the centre square after half-time helped propel Geelong to a 23-point win over Hawthorn at the MCG.  

Twelve of Selwood's 32 disposals came in a third quarter of bullocking brilliance, combining with Tim Kelly (29 disposals) in the Cats' 17.11 (113) to 13.12 (90) victory in front of a crowd of 66,347.

CATS SHOW THEIR CLASS Full match coverage and stats

Just a day after Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson demanded his side be "tough enough for long enough", the Hawks conceded nine goals to three in added time to be blown away late in quarters. 

Losing captain Ben Stratton to concussion pre-bounce, the injury-ravaged Hawks cut the Cats' 36-point final term buffer to just 16 before running out of legs. 

CLARKO THE 'CLOWN' Hawks coach's own admission

Reduced to three on the bench for the second half after losing midfielder Brandan Parfitt to a quad strain, the Cats were led in attack by Gary Rohan (four goals) and Gary Ablett (three). 

Despite Tom Hawkins being held to just one goal in a fascinating tussle with James Sicily, the Cats managed 14 marks in the forward 50 to outmuscle their opponents. 

The Hawks owned the proceedings in the opening term, including an incredible accidental goal from youngster James Cousins, but two late Rohan goals saw the Cats take a one-point lead into the first break.

After winning clearances 13-8 in the opening term through pressure, the Hawks' defensive structure fell away after quarter-time, allowing the Cats easy entries. 

WATCH Ablett instrumental amid chorus of boos

Ablett wound back the clock to yesteryear in a two-minute patch in the second term. 

After standing on late inclusion David Mirra's shoulders in the goalsquare, Ablett kicked his second in quick time, dribbling a goal on his right foot in the left forward pocket.

Opposed to Jack Gunston who played much of the afternoon in defence in the absence of Stratton, Ablett finished with 23 disposals.

With superstar Patrick Dangerfield moved to full-forward for the second half in an attempt to quell the tagging effort of Daniel Howe, Selwood was thrown into the midfield alongside Kelly and Cam Guthrie. 

BOO GAZ AT YOUR PERIL Scott and Dangerfield

Selwood amassed five clearances and six contested disposals as the Cats kicked the final two goals of the quarter to open up a five-goal lead at the final break.

An impressive snap from Ricky Henderson, playing his best game in Hawks' colours, cut the margin to 17 points late in the contest, before the Cats steadied the ship. 

Hawks ruckman Ben McEvoy, carrying the division solo for the first time this year, battled manfully in an enthralling battle with Rhys Stanley who finished with two majors.

Despite losing captain Ben Stratton to concussion pre-game, the Hawks appeared to get through the match without any without any further serious injuries. David Mirra was assessed with a left knee complaint but played out the match, while McEvoy sat out the game's final minutes with an apparent sore hip. 

Geelong: Midfielder Brandan Parfitt failed to take part after the main break with what coach Chris Scott described as a "minor quad strain" on his left leg. Esava Ratugolea spent parts of the second half on the stationary bike after receiving a corked quad.

The Hawks travel to Launceston for the first time this season to face Carlton on Sunday afternoon off a six-day break. The Cats host West Coast at GMHBA Stadium in the Sunday twilight slot, looking to get their first win over the reigning premier since 2016.

HAWTHORN     4.2     7.7     10.10     13.12     (90)
GEELONG         4.3    10.6    15.10     17.11    (113) 

Hawthorn: Puopolo 2, Roughead 2, McEvoy 2, Henderson 2, Lewis, Cousins, Smith, Worpel, O'Meara
Geelong: Rohan 4, Ablett 3, Kelly 2, Dangerfield 2, Stanley 2, Dahlhaus, Taylor, Miers, Hawkins 

Hawthorn: Henderson, Sicily, O'Meara, McEvoy, Worpel
Geelong: Selwood, Kelly, Rohan, Ablett, Dangerfield, Dahlhaus 

Hawthorn: Stratton (concussion) replaced in selected side by Mirra, Mirra (left knee), McEvoy (hip)
Geelong: Parfitt (quad) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Gavine, McInerney

Official crowd: 66,347 at the MCG