Geelong avoided becoming another victim of an AFL upset and rose to second on the ladder on Saturday night as they ended their horrid interstate form with a seven-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
For part of the first half, and near the end, Geelong liked look they might become the third upset victim in as many matches over the round, after North Melbourne’s loss to Carlton and Fremantle’s drubbing by St Kilda.
The Cats, who had lost their past four fixtures outside Victoria, trailed by 12 points in the second quarter at Spotless Stadium.
Six straight goals either side of halftime and the first two of the final quarter set up a 37-point lead, but they were forced to hold on down the stretch before grinding out a 13.16 (94) to 12.15 (87) victory.
It was Geelong’s four straight win and the Giants’ fourth successive loss, but GWS kicked five of the last six goals to get within six points and give the Cats a scare.
Rookie Tom Boyd missed a late chance to add to his two majors which could have put the home team even closer.
Cats captain Joel Selwood sparked the visitors with 39 touches, while Steve Johnson bagged three goals.
Giants co-captain Callan Ward was a wholehearted performer, notching 32 touches.
GWS kicked the first goal through former Geelong back Josh Hunt’s 50-metre effort, but the Giants were pinned back in their own half for most of the next 20 minutes.
Goals to Cameron Guthrie and Jordan Murdoch edged Geelong into a nine-point advantage, but Jonathon Patton converted a set shot to cut the deficit to one at the first break.
The Giants enjoyed their best spell of the first half early in the second quarter.
Ward converted a set shot after taking an intercept mark and Rhys Palmer rounded off a length-of-the-field move, as the Giants opened up a 30-18 lead.
Geelong reasserted themselves and regained control in the latter part of the quarter.
Dawson Simpson goaled and Johnson did likewise through a typically opportunistic effort.
After booting 4.10 in the first half, Geelong found their kicking boots after the long break.
They slammed on four straight goals early in the third quarter with Josh Caddy kicking two and Mitch Duncan and Jimmy Bartel to open up a 27-point buffer.
The margin swelled to 37 after goals to Tom Hawkins and Johnson in the first two minutes of the last term and a behind to Steven Motlop.