CHRIS Scott's bold call to move midfield star Patrick Dangerfield to full-forward has sparked the Cats to an imposing 59-point victory over recent nemesis Sydney in greasy conditions at the MCG on Friday night.
After his team produced just five goals in its qualifying final loss to Richmond, Scott robbed his midfield of its biggest star in the hope Dangerfield could provide the vibrant target the Cats lacked against the Tigers.
The move paid off spectacularly, with Dangerfield shining just as brightly deep in attack as he usually does roaming the ground.
The Cats superstar breathed life into a forward line that had looked dysfunctional just seven days earlier, terrorising the Swans defenders with his speed, agility and strength overhead to boot 4.3 and lead his team to a glorious 15.8 (98) to 5.9 (39) victory.
Dangerfield's goals all came in the first half but his influence did not finish there as he finished with 26 possessions, eight marks (four contested) and four tackles.
After allowing the Swans to pile on seven-goal first quarters in each of their previous two encounters, the Cats made a far faster start on Friday night, going into quarter-time five points up after holding Sydney to two goals.
Geelong then rocked the Swans with a six-goal-to-one second term that gave them a 36-point lead at half-time, before increasing its margin in each of the final two terms as it held Sydney to its lowest finals score since 1924, and its lowest score since round one, 1997.
Geelong's victory was its first in a final over Sydney – the Cats had lost their previous four against the Swans – and ensured it avoided becoming the first second-placed team since 1997 to exit the finals in straight sets.
As brilliant as Dangerfield was in attack, the Cats' midfield barely missed a beat without him.
Mitch Duncan (a game-high 36 possessions and two goals), Sam Menegola (26 possessions, eight tackles and two goals) and Scott Selwood (26 possessions, 10 tackles and seven clearances) comfortably took the points over Sydney's much-heralded midfield in Dangerfield's absence, while Mark Blicavs performed an outstanding run-with role on Josh Kennedy, holding the Swans skipper to just three clearances.
Steven Motlop (23 possessions, six tackles and one goal) was also an able side-kick for Dangerfield in attack, while Lachie Henderson (22 possessions and 13 marks) and Zach Tuohy (25 possessions and seven rebound 50s) were outstanding in defence.
The Cats suffered a huge blow before the game when veteran key defender Tom Lonergan was a late withdrawal with food poisoning.
Lonergan's withdrawal forced Harry Taylor to play in defence after spending most of 2017 in attack, and the Cats' No.7 was given the daunting task of manning Swans superstar Lance Franklin.
Taylor rose to the challenge, holding Franklin to three behinds, while he received considerable support from fellow key defender Henderson.
In fairness to Franklin, he was clearly hampered by the corked right thigh he suffered in the Swans' elimination final win over Essendon. Franklin played with heavy strapping over the thigh and did not move with his usual freedom, nor roam as far up the ground.
Cats coach Chris Scott said the win was one of the most satisfying in his seven seasons at Geelong.
"When you work through the quality of the opposition, the stakes on offer, we did not play well the week before, all those things add up to it being a good performance," Scott said.
The decision to play Dangerfield in attack had been a collective call by the Cats' coaching team that was made early in the week, Scott said.
"You want your best players in the game putting your opposition on the back foot, it doesn't always work that way, but [playing Dangerfield forward] got our guys believing that when we got the ball forward, that we had a pretty potent threat up there.
"It obviously destabilises the opposition as well."
The Swans' loss was their first to any team other than Hawthorn since they opened the season 0-6.
Sydney coach John Longmire said nothing his team tried seemed to work.
"We had things in place, we didn't get them done as well as what we could have," Longmire said.
"We tried a number of things, we weren't efficient at getting those things we wanted to get done completed.
"It was just one of those nights."
On an otherwise dismal night, key defender Heath Grundy's effort to hold Tom Hawkins to a late goal stood out.
Dan Hannebery (a team-high 27 possessions), Kieren Jack (23 possessions and six clearances) and Jarrad McVeigh (19 possessions and one goal) were among the few other Swans who could walk off with the MCG with their heads held high.
Every Swan rated from the second semi-final
Geelong: Tom Lonergan was a late withdrawal before the game with food poisoning. Defender Tom Stewart came off the ground in the third quarter with an apparent left hamstring injury and did not return. However, Cats coach Chris Scott suggested after the match Stewart should be fit for the preliminary final. "He had hamstring tightness, it was very precautionary, no damage," Scott said.
Sydney: The Swans escaped with a clean bill of health.
GEELONG 3.1 9.4 13.4 15.8 (98)
SYDNEY 2.2 3.4 4.9 5.9 (39)
Geelong: Dangerfield 4, Menzel 2, Menegola 2, Duncan 2, Stanley, Smith, Motlop, Hawkins, Blicavs
Sydney: Jack, McVeigh, Mills, Papley, Reid
Geelong: Dangerfield, Henderson, Menegola, Duncan, Motlop, Blicavs, Taylor
Sydney: Hannebery, Grundy, Lloyd, Jack, McVeigh
Geelong: Lonergan (food poisoning) replaced in selected side by Rhys Stanley, Tom Stewart (hamstring)
Umpires: Rosebury, Nicholls, Meredith
Official crowd: 55,529 at the MCG