TOM Hawkins has registered his 700th AFL goal as Geelong overcame a major scare to post an 18-point win over West Coast at Optus Stadium.
The Cats were expected to stroll to victory against a bottom-of-the-table Eagles outfit that had registered just one win all year.
But buoyed by the return of premiership stars Elliot Yeo, Willie Rioli and Dom Sheed, West Coast hit the lead early in the third quarter.
The margin was just 11 points in favour of the Cats with seven minutes remaining in the match, but Hawkins’ third goal of the game sealed the 12.9 (81) to 9.9 (63) victory in front of 32,526 fans.
Hawkins kicked goal No.700 in the second quarter when he won a lucky free kick, with the 33-year-old becoming just the 26th player to achieve the feat in VFL/AFL history.
West Coast suffered a huge blow before the match when star midfielder Tim Kelly was ruled out with illness.
They were dealt another blow 10 minutes into the second term when defender Jeremy McGovern suffered a game-ending rib injury after being bumped by Jeremy Cameron.
McGovern was sent to hospital for scans.
Cats goalsneak Tyson Stengle kicked three goals to continue his fine form this year, while Cam Guthrie (25 disposals, 13 clearances) was also influential.
Jake Waterman, Jamie Cripps, and Josh Kennedy booted two goals apiece for West Coast, while Yeo tallied 22 disposals across half-back in just his third AFL match of the year.
The result was West Coast’s ninth loss on the trot – a club record.
But they will be heartened by the much-improved effort.
West Coast spent the week celebrating the 30-year anniversary of their grand final triumph over Geelong in 1992.
The Eagles showed plenty of fight in the opening term, with their intense tackling helping keep them in the match.
A goal after the siren from Hawkins in his only touch of the term gave the Cats a 13-point edge at quarter time, and the storyline was going to script when Geelong skipped out to a 25-point lead early in the second quarter.
But West Coast refused to give in, unleashing a four-goal blitz to claw their way back into the match.
Jack Petruccelle’s behind early in the third quarter gave the home side a one- point edge, but Geelong did enough from that point on to secure their ninth win of the season and replace Carlton in fourth spot.
(C) AAP 2022