Hawthorn staged a remarkable second-half comeback to record only their second win in 13 attempts against their great modern-day AFL rivals Geelong at the MCG on Saturday night.
After trailing by 31 points at halftime, the Hawks booted 11 goals to three in the final two quarters to win by 23 points and grab a significant psychological edge ahead of a probable qualifying final clash between two in two weeks’ time.
Jarryd Roughead and David Hale kicked three goals apiece and Will Langford (23 possessions and two goals) played easily the best game of his fledgling career as the Hawks won 14.10 (94) to 11.5 (71) to move above the Cats into second spot on the ladder.
The Cats were well served by Josh Caddy and Mathew Stokes, while Tom Hawkins kicked three goals in an entertaining battle with Brian Lake.
Geelong made the early running with the first three goals of the match – the pick of them being a remarkable set shot from Steven Motlop tucked up hard against the boundary line.
But the Hawks hit back with two late goals in the first term from Roughead, back in the lineup after serving a one-week suspension for tripping.
The Cats were forced to activate their sub by quarter-time, with Jackson Thurlow replacing Shane Kersten.
The Hawks drew level early in the second term with a goal from Jack Gunston, but that proved the signal for the Cats to go on a scoring rampage.
They kicked the next five goals, including two from Hawkins and another from Jimmy Bartel after a dodgy free kick which drew the ire of the Hawthorn fans.
Geelong’s first-half dominance was best illustrated by the fact they accumulated 100 more possessions than the Hawks on the way to a 31-point lead.
When Paul Puopolo could only kick two points after being awarded a pair of free kicks early in the third term it seemed to confirm this would be Geelong’s night.
Instead it was Hawthorn who climbed off the canvas, kicking 6.5 to 1.0 in the third quarter to take an unlikely four-point lead into the final change after Langford kicked truly after the siren.
The Hawks then put the result beyond doubt with the first four goals of the final quarter in what was the latest installment of an epic rivalry which first took fire when the Hawks scored an upset win over Geelong in the 2008 grand final.
The Cats then won 11 of their next 12 clashes, before Hawthorn gained bragging rights on Saturday night.