Shorter quarters have proven no hurdle for Geelong’s scoring power with the Cats blowing away AFL rivals Hawthorn by 61 points at GMHBA Stadium.
After Richmond and Collingwood restarted the season with a 36-all draw the previous evening, the Cats gave TV audiences a more free-flowing spectacle at their home fortress on Friday night.
The Hawks trailed by just six points at halftime in their first game at Kardinia Park since 2006, but Geelong’s five-goal burst to begin the third quarter paved the way for their 17.6 (108) to 7.5 (47) win.
The Cats showed why Hawthorn teams have rarely won in Geelong over the past 13 years by kicking 10 goals to one in the second half.
Their experienced midfield feasted on a Hawks team missing star onballer Jaeger O’Meara and they took an unassailable 37-point lead into the final change.
It was utter dominance around the clearances in the third term, with Geelong winning the vital statistic 11-3 for six goals to one.
Captain Joel Selwood was at his outstanding best, ruckman Rhys Stanley gave one of his best performances for Geelong, while superstar Patrick Dangerfield warmed up in his 250th game after a quiet start.
Star veteran Gary Ablett turned back the clock with a polished two-goal performance and set-up three other majors.
Clever small forward Gryan Miers enjoyed the round two clash by snagging three goals.
The result leaves the Cats at 1-1 in the shortened 17-round season after their loss to last year’s reigning premiers GWS in March.
“You can’t compete with the best teams unless you’ve got a capacity to score,” Geelong coach Chris Scott said.
“If you become a team that prioritises scoring over everything else you become inconsistent … but the balance there is really important for us.”
Key Hawks players were hard to find on a tough night, falling well short of an impressive round one win over Brisbane.
Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell was predictably the Hawks’ leading possession winner (22) in his second game back following 18-months out with a broken leg.
In an added blow for the Hawks, stars Chad Wingard and Shaun Burgoyne face an anxious wait to see if they are sighted by the Match Review Officer.
Wingard’s wayward boot collected Cat Tom Atkins high, resulting in a free kick, while a clumsy sling tackle from Burgoyne dazed Dangerfield.
However Dangerfield said after the game he felt fine and there wasn’t much in the incident.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson lamented his team’s “very average” performance.
“(Geelong) played outstanding footy and made us, I couldn’t even say second-rate, maybe even third or fourth rate,” he said.
“They’ve got a strong midfield but our midfield lowered their colours tonight.”