Cats destroy in-form Saints to replace them in AFL top four

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A dominant Tom Hawkins has helped Geelong burst St Kilda’s bubble in a runaway 59-point AFL victory at the Gabba.

St Kilda entered on a four-game winning streak but was shunted back to the pack by the Cats, who were efficient early before breaking the game and kicking the last nine goals.

The Cats’ 14.9 (93) to 4.10 (34) win pushed them ahead of the Saints to third on the live ladder and ensured they would finish the round in the top four.

Hawkins dominated all over the park and managed a season-best five goals to rise to equal first in the Coleman Medal race with West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (24 goals).

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He found support in Gary Rohan (four goals), who managed three majors in the second quarter, while Sam Menegola (two goals, 26 disposals) was prolific.

Patrick Dangerfield (three clearances, 19 touches) was never far away from the action, somehow bouncing a long bomb through the Saints’ last line of defence for a 41-point lead at the final break.

St Kilda was on terms early, winning the contested possession battle 59-45 at half-time and earning seven more forward 50 entries than the Cats and incredibly finishing with four more at full-time.

But Geelong had 23 scoring shots from their 40 entries and by three-quarter time had tipped the scales elsewhere in their favour, sheer numbers around the ball able to break down St Kilda’s go-forward.

St Kilda initially kept pace behind Jack Steele (24 touches, five clearances) and late call-up Ed Phillips, who kicked two early goals after replacing managed ruckman Paddy Ryder in the side.

It meant Rowan Marshall was left one-out in the ruck against Geelong’s Rhys Stanley and they exploited the early hit-out dominance with 24 of the game’s first 26 possessions.

Josh Battle bombed a long-range goal to make it a six-point game midway through the second quarter but they were unable to score another.

Geelong next faces the in-form Port Adelaide on Friday at Metricon Stadium while St Kilda will have until Sunday to lick its wounds before facing Essendon.

AAP

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