GEELONG star Tom Hawkins has kicked the Cats through to their fifth preliminary final in six years, booting five goals to overpower a persistent Greater Western Sydney by 35 points at Optus Stadium on Friday night.
The Cats saw off a fourth-quarter rally from the injury-hit Giants to finally end their brave season, winning 15.13 (103) to 10.8 (68) and setting up preliminary final clash with Melbourne next Friday night in Perth.
CATS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
Hawkins was magnificent, exacting revenge on opponent Sam Taylor and snuffing out the Giants' late challenge with three final-quarter goals to leave the Cats one win away from back-to-back Grand Finals.
It was the 33-year-old's equal best finals return, with sidekick and former Giant Jeremy Cameron also finding some form early to boot two ahead of a clash with the Demons' vaunted backline.
The Cats capitalised on their aerial advantage and broke the game open with five unanswered goals in a dominant third quarter, building a game-high 38-point lead.
But the Giants, in a style typical of their season, fought back and cut the margin to 20 points with three quick goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter.
Hawkins then put his stamp on the contest, kicking his three goals from marks and high-quality set shots that restored the Cats' buffer and allowed them to celebrate Joel Selwood's record-breaking 333rd game in style.
Zach Tuohy (31 disposals and six rebound 50s) was outstanding and gave the Cats run all night, while Sam Menegola (29 and six clearances) pushed forward from the midfield to kick two goals.
The Giants, who were best served by Lachie Whitfield (34 and 11 rebound 50s) and Nick Haynes (21 and nine marks), clearly missed the forward line spark of suspended star Toby Greene.
They lacked targets in attack after key forward Jesse Hogan was withdrawn pre-game with a calf injury, taking just five marks inside 50 to the Cats' 13.
They bow out after a fifth finals campaign under coach Leon Cameron that has delivered at least one win but not the ultimate success, ending a 73-day campaign on the road and away from their families.
The absence of Hogan was obvious early as the Giants fought and scrapped for their opportunities without the key forward, who took five marks inside 50 last week.
At the other end of the ground, former Giant Cameron was involved in everything before kicking the opening goal 16 minutes in when opponent Jake Stein chopped his arms.
Brad Close sent the Cats into quarter time 14 points clear but without midfielder Brandan Parfitt, who injured his left hamstring stretching for a tackle.
The Giants, who were relying on a small, mobile forward line, enjoyed the first of their attacking runs in the second quarter when star midfielder Josh Kelly and then inclusion Conor Stone snapped goals to cut the margin to three points.
But it was clear the Giants would have to work hard for their goals without effective marking targets.
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To highlight the differences in personnel, the Cats went on a three-goal run, with tall targets Hawkins, Esava Ratugolea and Cameron all taking marks inside 50 and converting to open a game-high 22-point lead.
It was the story of the game, as Geelong rediscovered its control game and eventually ground down the Giants, who will rue the self-inflicted obstacles placed in front of them.
GEELONG 2.5 5.8 10.9 15.13 (103)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.3 3.5 5.7 10.8 (68)
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Cameron 2, Rohan 2, Close 2, Menegola 2, Ratugolea, Smith
Greater Western Sydney: Stone 2, Himmelberg 2, Kelly, Lloyd, Hill, Mumford, Haynes, Ward
Geelong: Hawkins, Tuohy, Menegola, C Guthrie, Smith, Dangerfield, Cameron
Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Haynes, Hopper, Kelly, Ward, Mumford
Geelong: Parfitt (left hamstring), Hawkins (corked leg)
Greater Western Sydney: Jesse Hogan (calf) replaced in the selected side by Phil Davis, Sproule (shoulder)
Geelong: Zach Guthrie (replaced Parfitt)
Greater Western Sydney: James Peatling (replaced Sproule)
Crowd: 44,091 at Optus Stadium