Several of Geelong’s biggest names stood tall as the Cats withstood a late North Melbourne rally to record a 20-point victory in the AFL match at Simonds Stadium on Friday night.
The home team dictated terms for much of the match, only for the Kangaroos to get within 16 points late in the final term.
That was the signal for spearhead Tom Hawkins to cap a dominant display by setting up the sealer for Mark Blicavs, who curled home a left-footed snap to the delight of the 27,402-strong crowd.
The Cats’ 16.15 (111) to 13.13 (91) victory ensured they would sit safely inside the top four at the completion of round 10.
Hawkins finished the night with four goals, seven marks and 17 possessions as he proved too good for All Australian fullback Scott Thompson.
The Cats also had great returns from triple premiership heroes James Kelly, Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel, who returned to the fray after a heavy head clash to kick two important goals in the final quarter.
Forwards Lindsay Thomas and Drew Petrie kicked three goals apiece for the Kangaroos.
The early signs were bad for North, with star midfielders Nick Dal Santo and Jack Ziebell both ordered off under the blood rule inside the first three minutes.
The Cats had the best of the early exchanges, with the Kangaroos lucky to only trail by 21 points at quarter-time when Petrie goaled after the siren.
The only downside for the Cats was a concussion to defender Tom Lonergan midway through the first quarter and he played no further part in the match.
Hawkins was a commanding presence in the second quarter, kicking two goals and setting up another for George Horlin-Smith with some good bullocking work.
The big forward ended the quarter with a long bomb as the Cats went into the long break ahead by 35 points.
The Cats continued to have the better of general play in the third quarter, but the Kangaroos made a little headway on the scoreboard, trimming the margin to 30 points at the final change after finally stringing together consecutive goals for the first time in the match.
North Melbourne also kicked four goals to three in the last quarter, but the final margin of 20 points probably flattered the visitors.
The Cats had brought patchy form into the encounter, having won only one of their past three games, with the sole victory coming against struggling Richmond by just five points.
North utility Joel Tippett injured his shoulder in the second quarter while attempting to tackle Jordan Murdoch.