IT'S CALLED the premiership quarter for a reason.
And on Saturday night it was premiership favourite Geelong which put the Western Bulldogs to the sword in a third-quarter burst that ensured Joel Selwood's 350th game was a night to remember at GMHBA Stadium.
CATS V BULLDOGS Full match details and stats
The Cats booted the first four goals after half-time within just nine minutes to dramatically swing the contest, finishing with 8.2 to 0.3 in the term to put Geelong's side on course to a 28-point victory.
It was a devastating, clinical blitz that killed the contest and made it 10 straight wins for Geelong, keeping the Cats a win clear of Melbourne and Collingwood at the top of the ladder, with Brisbane yet to play this weekend.
Tom Hawkins, Gary Rohan, Jeremy Cameron and Tyson Stengle each booted two goals as the Cats stormed home to win 14.10 (94) to 9.12 (66).
On a night of celebration in Geelong, the Bulldogs threatened to spoil the party early when they kicked the first four goals of the game before the Cats had registered a score, shocking the locals into silence.
But Luke Beveridge's side could only maintain the rage for a half, falling away poorly after the main break to fall out of the top eight after St Kilda held on to beat Hawthorn earlier in the day.
After such a bright start to the game, it took 50 minutes of game time for Cody Weightman to kick the Bulldogs' seventh goal of the game midway through the final term, after Josh Dunkley kicked their sixth just before half-time.
But while Selwood only played a supporting role, it was all about the triple-premiership icon who became only the 21st player in AFL/VFL history to reach 350 games, overtaking Essendon legend Dick Reynolds by leading Geelong to a 160th victory as captain.
Kardinia Park was packed to the rafters to pay tribute to one of the greatest players to ever wear the famous hoops.
And now the 34-year-old looks set for yet another finals series – the 15th of his career – after Geelong tightened its grip on top place with three games to play in the home and away season.
Only Michael Tuck has played in more finals – 39 to 37 – and that might be the next milestone Selwood breaks this September.
Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield dusted himself off after a quiet performance against Port Adelaide last Saturday night to produce a game-breaking performance to salute Selwood, amassing 26 disposals, 10 contested possessions and seven score involvements to bounce back in style.
After conceding 10 second-half goals, the Dogs now face Fremantle at Marvel Stadium next Saturday in another crucial game in the context of a season that's hanging in the balance.
Back in business
With most of the focus on Selwood's milestone, it was the perfect setting for Tom Stewart to quietly slot back into the Geelong line-up after serving a four-game suspension for that hit on Richmond star Dion Prestia. The three-time All-Australian defender had been one of the standout defenders in the game before that controversial incident and it didn't take him too long to settle into the backline and make an impact. Stewart finished with 22 disposals and 10 marks.
Jamarra's hot form continues
Coming off the best game – and fortnight – of his burgeoning career, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was always going to cop plenty of attention at GMHBA Stadium. He burst out of the blocks, kicking the first goal of the game within the first 60 seconds and added another to provide the Dogs with a target in attack, while Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce finished goalless.
Dogs' backline intrigue
Luke Beveridge made a big call at selection when he dropped Alex Keath. The key defender has been a permanent fixture down back since crossing from Adelaide at the end of 2019, finishing sixth in the past two Charles Sutton medals. But after a quiet patch of form, the Dogs went with Zaine Cordy instead. Ryan Gardner, Buku Khamis and Cordy were far from the reason the Bulldogs were beaten in the third quarter. This area of the ground will continue to be interesting at the selection table.
GEELONG 1.2 4.6 12.8 14.10 (94)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.3 6.5 6.8 9.12 (66)
Geelong: Cameron 2, Hawkins 2, Guthrie 2, Rohan 2, Stengle 2, Close, Dangerfield, Miers, Smith
Western Bulldogs: Weightman 3, Dunkley 2, Ugle-Hagan 2, English, Johannisen
Geelong: Dangerfield, Smith, Guthrie, Stewart, Close, Duncan, Stengle
Western Bulldogs: Richards, Dunkley, Liberatore, Dale, Bontempelli
Geelong: Rohan (concussion)
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Geelong: Brandan Parfitt (replaced Gary Rohan)
Western Bulldogs: Lachie McNeil (unused)