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Utter Dee-struction: Demons destroy diabolical Cats in preliminary final obliteration

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10th September, 2021
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Melbourne have qualified for their first grand final since 2000 after absolutely annihilating Geelong by 83 points in tonight’s preliminary final.

The Demons were switched on from the get-go and, despite conceding the first goal of the game, were barely troubled. Their 27-point lead ballooned to close to 40 in the second quarter, although two late goals to the Cats looked to have given them a chance.

The minor premiers made an absolute mockery in the third quarter, with an 8.2 (50) to 0.1 (1) third quarter ballooning the margin out to an unfathomable 78 points.

Max Gawn played the game of his career, with his great ruckman’s game (33 hit-outs, 19 disposals, five clearances) capped off by a five-goal haul – including three for the highlight reel.

Christian Petracca took the mantle from Dustin Martin as the finals x-factor, tearing the Cats to shreds with a 32-disposal, eight-clearance, ten-score involvement game, while Clayton Oliver (27 disposals, seven clearances) and Jack Viney (34 disposals, nine clearances) were superb in support.

Patrick Dangerfield (29 disposals, ten clearances) tried hard all night for Geelong, but had virtually no support. Jeremy Cameron (four disposals, two goals) was virtually unsighted up foward, while Gary Rohan’s infamous finals allergy continued as he was subbed out in the third quarter with one disposal to his name.

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The Demons will enter September 25’s grand final against Port Adelaide or the Western Bulldogs as the warm favourites after one of the most dominant preliminary final performances in years.

Max Gawn of the Demons celebrates after scoring a goal

(Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Ben Brown and Oscar McDonald both had early chances to kick the first goal of the game, but Brown’s shot hit the post and McDonald’s hit the man on the mark. It was Geelong who’d steady after the early pressure and grab the first through Jeremy Cameron – but a decisive Christian Petracca centre clearance immediately after set Brown up for the reply.

James Harmes took advantage of some loose Geelong defending at a forward stoppage to wheel around and send a superb goal on the run from 45 to put the Demons properly ahead, before Alex Neal-Bullen made it three straight soon after.

But the Dees suffered a big blow a few minutes later, with Steven May coming from the ground with a hamstring injury. He grabbed at his right hamstring after being pushed in midair by Tom Hawkins and, despite the incident itself looking innocuous, Seven’s Abbey Holmes reported that the key defender was on the verge of tears on the sideline.

That didn’t seem to affect them on the field, however, with Christian Petracca kicking another silky forward stoppage goal to open up a 19-point advantage. Charlie Spargo then made it 25 points with an easy set shot in time-on.

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May miraculously started the quarter on the field and was able to play it out, but it was Geelong who got the first major through Rhys Stanley.

Again, however, Melbourne were able to respond immediately through another ground-level goal to Spargo.

Gryan Miers slotted a set shot to keep Geelong’s scoreboard ticking but, after that, it was all Melbourne.

They had the Cats absolutely hemmed in at their own end, with the stats for the Geelong forwards making for dire reading.

At the other end, goals to Tom Sparrow, Max Gawn and Kysaiah Pickett had the Demons up by 39 points nearing half time.

Gawn’s goal was one for the highlight reel, with the skipper taking a mark inside 50 and, believing it had been touched on the boot, breaking inboard and sending through a very un-ruckmanlike running snap from 45 out.

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Melbourne had a few chances to really turn the screws before half time, but could only pepper the goals. Tom Hawkins then gave Geelong a late lifeline after nailing a tough set shot off the back of his side’s first really adventurous passage of play for the evening.

Isaac Smith then slotted another one just before the siren to give the Cats a sniff at 29 points down.

The task got made much harder straight away, however, with another Petracca-inspired clearance resulting in a Ben Brown mark inside 50 and another goal to make it 35 points once more.

The Cats started to really unravel from there. Petracca had a hand in another mark inside 50 – this one to Bayley Fritsch – with Joel Selwood then giving away a 50-metre penalty after shoving Ed Langdon to the ground.

Fritsch deposited his tap-in with ease and the very next centre clearance saw Gawn unload a long bomb from outside 50 to make it 46 points. The very next centre clearance then saw Tom McDonald snap truly from 45 out to blow the margin beyond 50 points.

It was well and truly party time from there. Gawn added his third, fourth and fifth goals – the fourth an outrageous snap across the body from deep in the pocket – to put the margin out to 70.

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Pickett’s second goal made it 78 points and saw the third quarter score finish an astonishing 50-1.

Harmes took a ripping mark on the shoulders of Lachie Henderson to continue the party, but his set shot sailed out on the full.

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The fourth quarter was played to such little intensity that a Mexican wave began to work its way around Optus Stadium.

Jeremy Cameron finally nailed Geelong’s first goal of the second half with 94 seconds remaining, bringing the margin back to 83 points.

Full time

Melbourne – 19.11 (125)
Geelong Cats – 6.6 (42)

Goals

Demons: Gawn 5, Pickett 3, Spargo 2, Brown 2, Fritsch 2, Harmes, Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Sparrow, McDonald
Cats: Cameron 2, Stanley, Miers, Hawkins, Smith

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