GEELONG will meet Richmond in next Saturday’s AFL grand final after beating Brisbane by 40 points at the Gabba.
Geelong have ended their run of AFL preliminary final outs with an impressive 40-point win over Brisbane to book a date with Richmond in the season decider.
Retiring champion Gary Ablett kicked two goals in the 11.16 (82) to 6.6 (42) victory at the Gabba on Saturday night to help ensure his decorated career lasts one more week.
Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola and Patrick Dangerfield were all important for the Cats and Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins kicked two goals in an entertaining duel with Harris Andrews.
Small forward Gary Rohan finished with three majors, completing his haul with a set shot after the final siren.
Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale overcame a slow start to finish with 24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals for the Lions, but was part of a midfield unit that was outworked and outmuscled for significant periods.
Geelong’s triumph in front of 29,121 fans – predominantly favouring Brisbane – came after four successive defeats in preliminary finals and set up the first all-Victorian grand final since their last appearance in 2011.
“Finals are hard to earn your way into in this competition,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.
“It’s getting harder and harder in an equalised competition and we’re really respectful of the quality of the other teams.
“So to work so hard this year in trying circumstances to give ourselves the chance to taste the ultimate success is a credit to our club, not just our players and our administrators, but the way our whole club and our supporters have embraced the challenge of this year.
“I’m really proud of them.”
Versatile star Dangerfield started in attack and Geelong’s midfield didn’t miss him early as they dominated clearances (15-4) and contested possession (36-18) in the first term.
It set the tone and gave the visitors control early but they wasted a string of chances in front of goal and struggled to make their territorial dominance count.
Brisbane’s efficiency at the other end kept them within touching distance, with Charlie Cameron kicking two early goals.
Neale didn’t have a kick in the first term but helped lift the Lions in the second when he had 10 disposals, five clearances and a goal as the contest evened up in the middle.
Ablett fired with two goals in the third term as Geelong edged out to a game-high three-goal lead and the margin blew out in the dying stages.
Understandably disappointed, Brisbane coach Chris Fagan conceded it was a “brilliant” performance by the Cats.
“They were just stronger in the contest than us, particularly early in the game,” Fagan said.
“It could’ve been a little bit of a blowout in the first quarter, to be honest.
“That was the quarter where they were really on top in contested ball and clearance, then we actually corrected it a fair bit after that.
“Their bodies were just stronger to break through from the clinches and break through the congestion.”
– AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS