Hawthorn rued a series of missed goal-scoring opportunities in the final term as Geelong came from behind to snatch victory by two points in front of almost 70,000 fans at the MCG on Monday.
The AFL’s defending premiers won the round-two clash 14.8 (92) to 13.12 (90) to extend their unbeaten streak against Hawthorn to eight matches since the Hawks claimed the 2008 flag.
The Hawks got stage fright to boot 0.5 in the final term after leading at the last change by 18 points.
Two dribbled shots at goal from Lance Franklin in the last quarter failed to hit the mark and the star forward finished with 2.4.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson paid tribute to Geelong’s physical and mental strength.
“When the game’s there to be won, guys like Bartel, and (Joel) Selwood and (Paul) Chapman and these sorts of guys just will them to victory,” Clarkson said.
“We’re a good side but we’re not in the same bracket as those guys.
“Ultimately it came down to us not taking our chances in the last quarter.
“We had running shots that just dribbled across the face of goal.
“We had opportunities from the goalsquare to kick it off the ground and we missed ((Michael Osborne).
“We had a set shot from goal 20 metres out in front and we missed (Luke Breust).”
Clarkson repeated his strong words from last year’s preliminary-final loss to Collingwood about how the Hawks weren’t tough enough and hard enough for long enough.
“The really great sides find a way to win,” he said.
Sam Mitchell was dominant for the Hawks with a game-high 31 possessions but had only three in the final term while Jordan Lewis (three goals and 20 possessions) also faded late.
Geelong’s key forwards James Podsiadly, with five goals including three of his team’s four in the final term, and Tom Hawkins, with three goals and a game-high 12 marks, were instrumental in the win.
Steve Johnson also kicked three goals for the Cats while Jimmy Bartel kicked two vital goals. Desperate defence from Andrew Mackie and Corey Enright in key moments in the final term helped save the day for the Cats .
Geelong coach Chris Scott praised the growing influence of Hawkins and singled out the tagging job from 21-year-old Taylor Hunt who held Mitchell to 10 touches in the second half.
Scott also pointed to the courageous leadership of Joel Selwood who played on despite a series of heavy head knocks.
The Cats (1-1) face North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday and Hawthorn (1-1) host Adelaide at the MCG on the same day.