Hawkins injured as Eagles beat Cats
Geelong forward Tom Hawkins was left seeing stars as West Coast came from behind to post a crucial five-point victory in Perth on Friday night.
Hawkins, who kicked the match-winning goal against Hawthorn last week, was stretchered off 28 minutes into the opening quarter after falling heavily on his head in a marking contest.
The 24-year-old lay on the ground for five minutes before medical staff were able to put a neck brace on him and stretcher him off safely, with the Cats forced to substitute him out of the game shortly after.
Despite the setback, Geelong still held a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter, before West Coast unleashed a determined second-half performance to pull off the 16.6 (102) to 15.7 (97) triumph.
Cats forward Steven Johnson closed the margin to five points with eight seconds remaining, but Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui took the ball out of the next centre bounce to ice the win.
West Coast’s 13th win of the year moves them back to equal on points with fourth-placed Hawthorn for the time being, while the Cats (12-7) are likely to be at least two wins adrift of fourth spot by the end of the weekend.
Eagles ruck duo Dean Cox (three goals, 23 possessions, 45 hit-outs) and Naitanui (18 disposals, two goals) played key roles in the win, while Daniel Kerr was prolific at ground level.
For the Cats, James Podsiadly booted three goals and Johnson displayed his trademark brilliance in amongst a series of brain fades.
In the end, Geelong’s growing list of injuries proved telling, with late withdrawal Paul Chapman (calf) joining James Kelly (groin) and Josh Hunt (quad) on the sidelines.
It was a case of the walking wounded in the opening term, with Cats midfielder Allen Christensen injuring his right shoulder, Hawkins stretchered off following his heavy fall to the ground, Eagles skipper Darren Glass receiving treatment for a leg complaint, and West Coast veteran Adam Selwood copping several knocks to the head.
One of those hits on Selwood came from Johnson, who could come under strife for the front-on hip-and-shoulder.
Three Selwoods were out on the ground, but there was definitely no brotherly love on show.
Adam Selwood tried his best to clean up Joel Selwood with a big hip and shoulder that sent both brothers crashing to the ground.
Adam and Joel hit their head on the ground in the bump, but Joel got up quickly to give Adam an angry shove while the older brother was still lying on the ground trying to regain his senses.
Johnson tallied 19 possessions and 10 clearances in the opening half to give Geelong a 14-point lead at the long break, but the Eagles hit back in the third term to close the margin to one point with one quarter remaining.
And with Cox and Naitanui in sublime touch, the Eagles did enough to get over the line.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said Hawkins had pulled up better than expected from the concussion.
“He’s up and about and looks to be OK,” Scott said.
“We were a little bit worried but he looks to be as good as you could hope at the moment.
“But as always it’s going to take a long time to tell for sure.”
Eagles coach John Worsfold was happy with the way his side worked their way back into the game.
“Geelong were up and going early,” Worsfold said.
“They’ve worked really hard at their starts and they threw everything into the game early. We weathered it to a degree.”© AAP 2013