Cats thrash dismal Dockers
Fremantle's return to primetime has ended in a damp squib, hammered by Geelong to the tune of 69 points at Optus Stadium on Thursday night.
With their finals hopes on the line the Dockers delivered their poorest performance of season 2021, Geelong with a percentage boosting victory with the 14.16 (100) to 3.13 (31) result in front of 35,271 fans.
The loss was compounded by injuries to big men Sean Darcy (knee) and Rory Lobb (ankle) with both players failing to finish the match.
The Dockers had clawed their way into the top eight on the back of last week's 62-point demolition of Hawthorn, and their game against Geelong was the first time they had appeared on a Thursday or Friday night in five years.
But the game was all but over at halftime, with Fremantle's turnovers and wastefulness in front of goal proving costly.
It was Fremantle's biggest defeat under coach Justin Longmuir, eclipsing the 59-point loss to West Coast in round seven this year.
Geelong's dominance was highlighted by the marks inside 50m statistic, which the Cats won 28-2.
Darcy put in a huge effort before suffering a knee knock early in the last quarter to finish with 18 disposals, eight clearances, and 37 hitouts.
Darcy had clutched at the knee in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and bravely played on for as long as he could.
Lobb was subbed off at halftime with an ankle injury, while forward Josh Treacy was reported for rough conduct.
Treacy drew the ire of Geelong players after bumping Jed Bews in the back as the Cats defender was taking a mark.
Despite Darcy's dominance in the ruck, Geelong's midfield got on top at ground level, with Cam Guthrie (35 disposals, seven clearances) and Sam Menegola (30 possessions, seven clearances, one goal) influential.
Tom Hawkins cashed in up forward with four goals and three contested marks despite the slippery conditions.
Patrick Dangerfield booted three goals from 22 disposals playing mainly in attack, with the Cats flourishing despite the absence of forwards Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan to injury.
The result lifted Geelong (13-4) from third to first on the ladder, while Fremantle (8-9) could slip outside of the top eight by the end of the round.
Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe sent a huge scare through the camp when he hurt the right shoulder that he dislocated last month.
Fyfe came to the bench for attention, but was able to return in the second quarter and finished the match with 19 possessions and six clearances.
Geelong broke the game open in the second quarter with five unanswered goals - including two to Hawkins - to open up a 43-point lead.
Fremantle booted the opening two goals of the third quarter to give themselves a sniff.
But any hopes of a fairytale comeback evaporated just as quickly, with two goals to Dangerfield and one to Hawkins snuffing out Fremantle's victory hopes.
Fremantle will face Sydney in round 19, while Geelong plays Richmond in the second Grand Final rematch of 2021, both venues set to be determined at a later date due to ongoing issues with coronavirus in both Victoria and New South Wales.
IMAGE: Geelong Cats