Geelong Cats to face Melbourne Demons in Friday night preliminary final after 35-point win over GWS at Optus Stadium

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Braden QuartermaineThe West Australian
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VideoGeelong's Max Holmes had a moment to forget against the Giants.

A monster second half from All-Australian forward Tom Hawkins ensured Geelong saw off a plucky Greater Western Sydney and purred into yet another preliminary final on Friday night.

Hawkins starred with five goals, including three in the last quarter, as the undermanned but spirited Giants summoned one last effort in the second semifinal at Optus Stadium.

The Cats recovered from their qualifying final defeat to Port Adelaide to prevail by 35 points, 15.13 (103) to 10.8 (68).

It sets up a remarkable 11th preliminary final in 15 seasons for Geelong, who take on Melbourne at Optus Stadium next Friday night, and their seventh under Chris Scott.

The Cats’ win was soured by the loss of midfielder Brandan Parfitt in the opening term to a hamstring injury that could end his season.

Hawkins gave away a 50m penalty for a clumsy late arm swing into the head of Lachie Whitfield in the second term, but the incident looked to warrant a fine at most.

Tom Hawkins of the Cats collects Lachie Whitfield high to give away a 50m penalty.
Camera IconTom Hawkins of the Cats collects Lachie Whitfield high to give away a 50m penalty. Credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

The late withdrawal of Jesse Hogan left the Giants undersized in attack and the Geelong defence dominated the skies, with GWS winning the clearance count and levelling the inside-50 ledger but taking just five marks inside 50.

While Hawkins was the star, the run and penetration of West Australian product Sam Menegola, who kicked two goals to go with 29 disposals, Zach Tuohy and Isaac Smith was also significant.

Geelong led by 15 points after a low-scoring first half, with Jeremy Cameron getting two goals and being just inches away from a third when Nick Haynes plucked a fine mark off the goal line to deny him.

Daniel Lloyd provided the Giants with a lifeline just before half-time and when Bobby Hill kicked a goal to complete a brilliant solo effort to start the third term, they were within nine points.

It would be as close as GWS would get, with the Cats responding with a run of five consecutive majors before Shane Mumford’s goal after the three-quarter time siren.

Gary Rohan shrugged off his much talked about poor finals record to provide two of them, while Hawkins kicked his second and set up one for Isaac Smith with an excellent piece of ruckwork.

Sparked by the move of Tim Taranto into the midfield and Haynes into attack, the Giants got three quick goals in a row to get back to within 20 points early in the final term before Hawkins provided the answers at the other end as he took the points against WA youngster Sam Taylor.

NIGHT TO REMEMBER

It wasn’t the Cattery and the healthy crowd of 44,091 did have a pro-Giants leaning, but at least a great atmosphere provided a fitting backdrop as Geelong legend Joel Selwood played his 333rd game to claim the club’s games record.

Joel Selwood gets the ball away in his milestone match.
Camera IconJoel Selwood gets the ball away in his milestone match. Credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

Playing in his 36th final, Selwood wasn’t a major factor with 14 disposals and two clearances but enjoyed some typically important moments.

If adrenaline had got the better of him in the third term he may have celebrated with a goal as he streamed inside 50, instead opting to unselfishly centre the ball to his tall targets.

Selwood was carried off by Hawkins and assistant coach Corey Enright, whose record he took.

The attendance, a record for matches between the two clubs, should be bettered in next Friday night’s preliminary final and then again in the grand final.

JEZZA’S NIGHT

The Giants might have got a swag of draft picks, but the Cats had the weapons in attack and prized acquisition Cameron played his part.

It was a grand stage for the GWS foundation player and life member to take on his former club for the first time and he followed the script, kicking the game’s opening goal to break a run of behinds from each side.

Marked by Jake Stein and Connor Idun, Cameron was outshone by his forward partner Hawkins but still offered an energetic presence with 2.2 from 14 disposals.

99 NOT OUT

Giants forward Hogan’s 100th game will have to wait for next season after he was a late out with a calf injury.

Hogan was a significant factor in his first final last weekend, kicking two goals and dragging down a game-high six contested marks.

The withdrawal of the former Fremantle forward handed a call-up to out of-favour defender Phil Davis, who started in defence on Esava Ratugolea as Harry Himmelberg was left to anchor a small GWS forward line.

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