GEELONG brushed aside a rash of injuries and Gary Ablett’s report to pick apart Essendon by 32 points in their AFL clash at the MCG.
The clash of game styles proved a non-contest, with the ladder-leading Cats in control for most of Sunday’s country festival match, winning 13.8 (86) to 7.12 (54).
Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield spent the second half camped in the goal square with his left knee strapped.
Ruckman Esava Ratugolea suffered a head knock in the third term and he did not return to the field.
The Cats also lost captain Joel Selwood and defender Zach Tuohy as late withdrawals because of soreness.
Essendon fans also booed Gary Ablett all day and, this time, it was for good reason.
Ablett was booked in the first quarter for a high forearm on Dylan Shiel in the first quarter.
Ablett, who impressed again, has never been suspended and he is likely to be fined for the incident.
For all their problems, the Cats rarely looked in trouble after briefly losing the lead during the first quarter and improved to a 6-1 record.
The bidding war between Geelong and the WA clubs for midfielder Tim Kelly just went up a notch – he was best afield with 30 disposals and two goals.
The Cats strangled Essendon, who rarely were able to move the ball quickly into attack.
The Cats boast the league’s stingiest defence and they kept Bombers stars such as Joe Daniher and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti quiet.
Jake Stringer was the sole shining light in attack for Essendon with three goals and midfielder Shiel racked up 33 disposals.
Cam Guthrie was the unlikely first goal kicker less than a minute into the match.
The Cats kicked the next two as well in quick succession to put early pressure on Essendon, who were struggling for forward efficiency.
The Bombers hit back, with their own three-goal burst to hit the lead as Ablett was booked immediately for his hit on Shiel.
A late goal gave the Cats the lead at the first change, despite Essendon winning the inside 50s 18-8.
The Cats started taking control with the opening two goals of the second term and they should have added a third.
Dangerfield handballed to Jordan Clark in the goalsquare and Clark slipped, with the ball comically rolling through for a rushed behind.
It was a rare blunder for the Cats, who extended their lead to 16 points at the main break.
More poor system in defence from Essendon led to a brilliant snap from Ablett at 12 minutes into the third term.
That put the Cats 30 points ahead and the game was effectively over.
After Selwood pulled out of the team on Saturday, they also lost Tuohy before the first bounce.
For the second game in a row, Essendon small forward Orazio Fantasia was a late withdrawal because of illness and Kyle Langford came into the side.
© AAP 2019
GEELONG 4.0 7.3 10.7 13.8 (86)
ESSENDON 3.3 4.5 5.6 7.12 (54)
Goals: Geelong: M Duncan 3 G Ablett 2 T Hawkins 2 T Kelly 2 C Guthrie G Miers G Rohan L Dahlhaus. Essendon: J Stringer 3 D Parish J Daniher M Baguley T Bellchambers.
Best: Geelong: T Kelly M Blicavs M Duncan G Ablett S Menegola M O’Connor. Essendon: D Shiel J Stringer Z Merrett M Hurley.
Injuries: Geelong: E Ratugolea (head knock) P Dangerfield (leg) Z Tuohy (soreness) replaced in selected side by Z Guthrie. Essendon: Nil.
Official Crowd: 63,527 at MCG.