Patrick Dangerfield and Gryan Miers leave the ground after the R18 match between Geelong and Essendon at GMHBA Stadium on July 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG coach Chris Scott believes Saturday's 77-point rout of Essendon is evidence the reigning premier is back to its best and that level is going to be hard to beat.

The Cats demolished finals hopeful Essendon on the back of a seven-goal-to-zero opening term on Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium, with the lopsided victory helping Scott's side extend its unbeaten run to four games and move up to fifth on the ladder.

That represents the highest Geelong has been placed on the ladder this season, after opening the campaign with a 0-3 start.

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Geelong has also endured injuries throughout the campaign but is starting to enjoy a cleaner bill of health with Jeremy Cameron among those to return on Saturday night as it sent an ominous warning to this year's premiership contenders.

"I think it probably was (Geelong's best performance of the season)," Scott said. "I think we’re in general getting closer to our best footy.


"Even from a personnel perspective, we were confident going into this week that even though (Esava) Ratugolea and (Zach) Tuohy were managed out of the team, they were being replaced by Isaac Smith and Jeremy Cameron. We haven't had that capacity much, if at all, this year. I think that alone is a sign we're getting back to the position we'd like to be.

"The first quarter was dominant obviously but just generally it feels like we're getting close to our best footy which we're pretty confident is going to be hard to beat."

Geelong faces an uphill task to claim an all-important top four spot, sitting six points behind fourth-placed Melbourne, with tough matches against contenders Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Collingwood in the next month.

"We always said we'd rather be playing our best footy towards the end of the year even if it meant sacrificing ladder position," Scott said. "So I'm not happy with our ladder position but really confident that we're tracking the right way to finding our best footy which I think is dangerous."


Scott hailed 100-gamer Gryan Miers, who he suggested was one of his favourites, while he wouldn’t be drawn on selection questions on how they'd fit Ratugolea and Tuohy back into their side.

The Cats coach also clarified the decision to substitute captain Patrick Dangerfield out at three-quarter time wasn't injury related.

"He had a tight calf during the week but that was not a problem at all," Scott said. "I saw him being worked on at three-quarter time, to be honest. We had a few options and he seemed like the most logical one to me, he's fine."

Meanwhile, Essendon coach Brad Scott offered high praise to his brother's side, having also lost to the Cats in round seven by 28 points when Tom Hawkins booted eight goals, repeating the dose with five on Saturday night.

"They're clearly the best team we've played this year," the Bombers coach said. "We've only conceded 100 points twice, to the same team.


"They dominated in pretty much all parts of the game today. Their pressure early was incredible and they kicked their first 13 goals from turnovers. That wasn’t just us butchering the ball. It was on the back of their pressure and structure and ability to win it back off us. They were just far too good for us today.

"They're clearly capable. It looked like their premiership defence again tonight. It had a lot of similarities to their best footy last year ... but it's who's playing their best footy with their best players available at the right time."

Essendon's heavy loss saw it lose almost six per cent, dropping down to eighth below St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs on percentage. It also came after a stirring win over Adelaide last week but Scott reiterated it wouldn't shake their belief.

"I don't think we'll lose any belief in what we're trying to build," he said. "We just couldn't execute and we came up against a team that were red-hot early and really solid throughout the game. They were exceptional and we were a bit off."

Scott clarified Jayden Laverde's substitution was precautionary after an ankle sprain in the second term.