Jimmy Bartel celebrates a goal after the final siren in Geelong's 76-point NAB Cup victory over Collingwood
GEELONG has taken a giant step away from the disappointment of September's grand final loss and sent an ominous warning to the rest of the competition, thrashing Collingwood by 76 points to claim the NAB Cup at Docklands on Friday night.
The Cats last won the pre-season premiership in 2006 and looked certain to claim this one from midway through the second quarter.
Scores were locked at the first change but six unanswered goals generated a 40-point lead at the main break and laid the foundations for the 0.18.19 (127) to 1.6.6 (51) victory.
Joel Selwood, who with Gary Ablett wreaked havoc through the midfield, won the Michael Tuck Medal as the best player on the ground.
So dominant were the Cats in what was expected to be a close contest, that the Pies took almost a half of football to kick their third goal of the game. It came at the 13-minute mark of the third quarter.
So imposing were they in almost every match-up around the ground that acting captain Cameron Ling was substituted from the game in the third quarter.
But the news wasn't all good for Geelong, with premiership defender Josh Hunt taken from the ground on a stretcher in the first quarter with what is suspected to be an ACL injury to his left knee.
He hit the ground after an innocuous clash with Collingwood forward Paul Medhurst.
Selwood was stellar, collecting 19 touches to half time to finish with 33 and two goals. Ablett was less visible but no less effective, especially in the last term, and had 35 disposals and three goals.
Paul Chapman (29 possessions, two goals) was also very good while young forwards Tom Hawkins and Ryan Gamble were lively but wasted opportunities.
Harry Taylor clearly won his battle with Travis Cloke and Matthew Scarlett, Corey Enright and Darren Milburn were watertight as usual.
The free-kick count heavily favoured the Cats (27-10) but despite the moans of Pies fans, it accurately reflected the winners' desire to be first, strongest and smartest at the contest.
For the Magpies, Shannon Cox stood out with 17 generally good disposals, Scott Pendlebury (14) and Dane Swan (16) worked hard in the midfield, Thomas showed flashes of form forward, while Tarkyn Lockyer was reliable as a backman.
The Cats got off to a great start when Tom Lonergan booted their first after a free kick was awarded right in front, but the Magpies then kicked three of the next four to take back the lead.
One of those was a 50m penalty won by ruckman Chris Bryan for a nine-point conversion, but Selwood was able to reply.
The Cats then turned it on in the second, adding 6.5 to 0.1. Steve Johnson kicked the first before Chapman took a Selwood handball to goal on the run. Varcoe then kicked his first and Selwood nailed another.
Johnson marked unmanned 30m out and converted and then Ablett sent home a super-goal that was disallowed because of an infringement in the square. He booted a regulation goal moments later to make up for it.
The Cats had several more opportunities on the way to their 40-point half-time lead, but didn't capitalise on them.
The third term started in similar fashion, with the Cats booting a couple before the teams traded majors. Fifty-six points clear, the Cats turned for home.
In the last, Ablett kicked an incredible goal from 40m on the boundary only for the Pies to find a double through Thomas and Cloke.
Geelong then booted the last four, including Jimmy Bartel's celebrated say after the final siren.
The focus of both sides will now switch to round one of the season proper, with Geelong to meet Hawthorn in two weeks' time and Collingwood hosting Adelaide.
Geelong 0.3.5 0.9.10 0.13.15 0.18.19 (127)
Collingwood 1.2.2 1.2.3 1.4.5 1.6.6 (51)
Geelong: Nine-point goals: Nil Goals: Ablett 3, S. Johnson 3, Selwood 2, Chapman 2, Lonergan 2, Stokes 2, Gamble, Varcoe, Tenace, Bartel
Collingwood: Nine-point goals: Bryan Goals: Thomas 2, Clarke, O'Bree, Beams, Cloke
Geelong: Selwood, Ablett, Chapman, Taylor, S. Johnson, Bartel
Collingwood: Cox, Thomas, Lockyer, Pendlebury
Geelong: Josh Hunt (knee)
Umpires: McLaren, Jeffery, Donlon, M. Nicholls
Crowd: 37,277 at Docklands
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.
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