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Five-star Hawkins delivers Cats breathing space at the top

Highlights: Sydney v Geelong The Swans and Cats go head to head in round 19

GEELONG isn't quite back to its best, but the ladder leaders made a statement on Sunday to remind the rest of the competition that they're still one of the teams to beat for this year's premiership.

The Cats overcame a sluggish start to beat Sydney by 27 points at the SCG.

They continued the form that saw them drop three of their past five matches in the first term but kicked 15 goals after quarter-time to fend off the plucky Swans 16.11 (107) to 12.8 (80) at the SCG.

Tom Hawkins celebrated his 250th game in style. Picture: AFL Photos

In his 250th game, power forward Tom Hawkins booted five goals for the visitors in a commanding performance.

Tim Kelly (31 possessions) and Mitch Duncan (26 and two goals) were outstanding contributors through the midfield, with the experience of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood important in the second half.

 

Swans youngster Jordan Dawson kicked three goals for the home side in a different role across half forward, with defenders Callum Mills (26 disposals) and Jake Lloyd (25) providing plenty of rebound.

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Ben Ronke was a late inclusion for Oliver Florent and grabbed his opportunity with the game's opening goal, but another set shot howler from the youngster and other blown opportunities kept the Cats in touch.

Geelong won the clearances 13-9 in the first quarter, and while they couldn't turn that dominance into scores, they only trailed by 14 points at the first change.

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A brilliant long-range set shot from the boundary from Hawkins, who was opposed to star Swans co-captain Dane Rampe, was their only major of the term.

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A soft free kick handed Esava Ratugolea an early one to get the Cats going after the break and with Kelly and Dangerfield asserting themselves on the contest, they booted four of the first five goals to hit the front.

An unbelievable snap from deep in the pocket from Isaac Heeney steadied the home side and Ronke's second gave them the lead back, but Hawkins nailed his third to level the scores at half-time.

 

The milestone man was at it again when he nailed his fourth less than 30 seconds into the third quarter, which forced John Longmire to give the job to Aliir Aliir.

Ronke then missed another sitter when he ran into an open goal and shanked it from the top of the goal square, and Jordan Clark made him pay to put Geelong 13 points up.

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The Cats maintained complete control around the footy but whereas they didn't capitalise early in the match, Dangerfield's second, and a class finish from outside 50 from Mitch Duncan put them in front but a handy 27 points.

Dawson cut the margin by a goal just before the last change, then added his third with one of the best individual efforts of the season.

 

The Swan sold the dummy to three separate Cats before he slotted an outstanding solo major, and the locals were back in the game just 16 points behind.

When Hawkins bagged a handful and Joel Selwood added another the Cats looked home midway through the last.

 

Heeney gave the Swans some hope when he kicked a special banana from a tight angle and added a third just minutes later, to cut the deficit to 16 points.

The Cats remained cool however and regained the momentum with three in a row to seal the result. 

MEDICAL ROOM
Sydney: The Swans came through the loss without any concerns.

Geelong: Chris Scott's side looked to have come through the match unscathed.

NEXT UP
The Swans head across town for a derby clash against Greater Western Sydney at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon, while the Cats are off to Perth to face Fremantle at Optus Stadium, also on Saturday afternoon.

SYDNEY           3.3       6.5       7.6       12.8 (80)
GEELONG        1.1       6.5       10.10   16.11 (107)

GOAL
Sydney:
Dawson 3, Heeney 3, Ronke 2, Papley, Kennedy, Blakey, Parker
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Clark 2, Dangerfield 2, Duncan 2, Ratugolea, S.Selwood, J.Selwood, Parsons, Atkins

BEST
Sydney:
Mills, Dawson, Lloyd, Parker, Heeney, Kennedy
Geelong: Hawkins, Duncan, Kelly, Dangerfield, O’Connor, J.Selwood

INJURIES
Sydney:
Oliver Florent (hip flexor) replaced in selected side by Ben Ronke
Geelong: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Power, Margetts, Hosking

Official crowd: 32,911 at the SCG