GEELONG has got its season back on track with a 47-point win over St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday.
The Cats led at every change, posting a 15.13 (103) to 7.14 (56) victory to end a two-game losing run.
There was no questioning St Kilda’s effort, the Saints winning the contested possession battle 155 to 147 and the clearances 43 to 30, but their poor use of the football made life impossible for their forwards.
The result sees Alan Richardson’s men slump to 1-3, while Geelong improves to 2-2 on the season.
The win did come at a cost, though, with Cory Gregson suffering an ankle injury.
The Saints have their own injury concerns, with star defender Dylan Roberton taken to Epworth Hospital after collapsing behind play and Rowan Marshall concussed.
Daniel Menzel starred with five goals, while the usual suspects in Patrick Dangerfield and captain Joel Selwood – who became the club’s longest-serving captain (leading his 143rd match) dominated in the midfield, tallying 25 and 27 possessions respectively, while Zach Tuohy (29 disposals) set up countless attacks from the back half.
The Cats know what they’re going to get out of their top-liners on a weekly basis, but it’s the lesser likes that are going to help them take the next step after consecutive preliminary final exits.
In a positive sign for the future, some of Geelong’s unheralded players played an integral role in the win.
Brandan Parfitt showed why he is so highly-rated at the Cattery, racking up 28 disposals to go with three goals, Jordan Cunico gathered 21 touches and kicked two majors, while West Australian Tim Kelly was a solid contributor with 15 possessions, two goals and two goal assists.
Luke Dunstan was St Kilda’s best with 26 possessions, two goals and seven tackles, while captain Jarryn Geary (26) and Jack Steven (26) were busy contributors.
In their first match at home for the season, Geelong got off to a dream start with Kelly and Cunico kicking the first two majors of the match after just three minutes of action.
Despite the bright start from the Cats, it was St Kilda that had the better of the contested battle. However, their lack of composure prevented them from establishing any continuity in their play, the men in red, black and white heading into quarter-time 26 points in arrears.
The second term was the Menzel show, the classy small forward kicking the first three goals of the quarter to help his team to a 41-point lead.
The Saints lifted their rating at the tail-end of the term and were rewarded for their efforts, with goals to Marshall and Paddy McCartin ensuring the visitors remained within striking distance at the main break.
Trailing by 29 points, it was crucial that St Kilda started the second half strongly, and they got the all-important first major of the third term through Dunstan.
But, St Kilda’s poor ball use continued to be their Achilles heel.
While the Saints struggled to establish any connection between the midfield and the forward line, Geelong were incredibly efficient, with goals from Parfitt, Kelly and Menegola seeing the margin blow out to 48 points, effectively ending the contest.
To their credit, St Kilda fought the game out and won the final term by a point.
Geelong coach Chris Scott was pleased his side was able to make it 18 wins from their past 20 matches on their home deck with 10 players with less than 40 games experience.
“We got the game on our terms early,” said Scott.
“To continue to play the way we wanted to as a team on the ground with that inexperience was a positive.”
“It’s one thing to be able to do it at training and understand the theoretical nature of it, but to deliver on the big stage when there’s a bit of pressure is another thing. To this point, those guys are delivering, it’s exciting for us.”
St Kilda coach Alan Richardson admitted Roberton’s injury played on the minds of his playing group, but refused to use it as an excuse for the loss.
“We were beaten badly by the Cats tonight, their physicality and their pressure was just too much for us and that’s disappointing,” Richardson said.
“Probably 90 per cent of their score would’ve come off our turnovers.”
“Part of that was their really good defence, they did a really good job in terms of the way they structured up behind the ball and we weren’t able to cope with that.”
Next on the schedule for Geelong is a date with Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, while St Kilda faces the unenviable task of squaring off against an in-form Greater Western Sydney side.
GEELONG 4.3 8.6 13.8 15.13 (103)
ST KILDA 1.4 3.7 5.8 7.14 (56)
GEELONG: Menzel 5, Parfitt 3, Cunico 2, Kelly 2, Menegola 2, Stanley
ST KILDA: Dunstan 2, Roberton, Long, McCartin, Marshall, Acres
GEELONG: Parfitt, Menzel, Dangerfield, J. Selwood, Tuohy, Stewart
ST KILDA: Dunstan, Steven, Geary, Savage
GEELONG: Gregson (ankle)
ST KILDA: Marshall (concussion), Roberton (heart condition)
ATTENDANCE: 27,338 at GMHBA Stadium