GEELONG coach Chris Scott is refusing to "get carried away" after his side's 28-point win over reigning premier Melbourne but thinks the result showed the Cats can match it with the competition's best.
In a potential Grand Final preview, Geelong put together one of its more complete performances of the season, but was forced to fight off a late Melbourne surge with three late goals to secure the four points at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday night.
The win made it seven on the bounce for Scott's charges, who now sit in first place on percentage ahead of the Demons heading into the final six games of the season.
Scott echoed Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin's sentiments during the lead-up to the game, believing the contest shaped as an "audit" for where his side are heading into the final stretch of the season.
"It was put to me that Simon Goodwin said during the week that this game is probably a bit of an audit for where his team is at and we thought: 'Yeah, that's a pretty good description'. Whatever happens we'll learn a bit," Scott said.
"I think we won't get carried away with the win. It doesn't make us the best team in the comp because we beat them at home.
"But what it does say to our players is the things we've been working on can stand up against the very best teams."
In a game with a number of momentum swings, Scott was particularly pleased with how his side handled the occasion and kept its focus, especially when Melbourne fought its way back late in the game.
"It was tense for the whole game but as expected against such quality opposition," Scott said.
"They were always going to have their moments and I think that's one of the best parts about AFL footy in general at the moment. The ebbs and flows within games and we try to embrace that part against a really good team because we know that we're going to have moments against any team where the game is going against us.
"If nothing else, it is good practice to make sure that you can stand up in those moments.
"Sometimes you've just got to take a deep breath and give the golf clap and say 'That's too good, Let's go back and stay on task' because it can get daunting when good players do good things.
"You just got to hang in and I thought we did."
Despite losing the hit-outs (49-36), Geelong dominated at the coal face, winning the clearances convincingly (54-36) against one of the League's top midfield units.
Scott was adamant his side needed to break even at stoppages or they would be "in trouble".
"You just have to (compete), there's no other way," Scott said.
"Especially with (Max) Gawn in there, (Christian) Petracca, (Clayton) Oliver. They're going to be at most centre bounces, (Jack) Viney is in there as well.
"If we didn't break even in there for a large portion of the night, we were going to be in trouble."
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Despite a third loss in five games, Goodwin is confident his side is still well placed for a charge into September but will "learn a lot" from the defeat.
"It was a good game. The team that deserved to win, won," Goodwin said.
"They dominated a number of areas and I said yesterday that you get a good audit on the game and we got that tonight.
"We'll learn a lot from this but full credit to Geelong they played an exceptional game and they got the game on their terms.
"We've still got enormous belief in the way we play. We're still in an amazing position for this back half of the year to really launch ourselves into what's ahead of us."
Goodwin also hopes Clayton Oliver has only bruised his thumb after needing to come off in the final term for treatment but said the club will monitor it in the days ahead.