Cats tune up for AFL finals with big win

Patrick Dangerfield kicked four goals as the Cats thrashed Carlton by 68 points in Geelong.
Patrick Dangerfield kicked four goals as the Cats thrashed Carlton by 68 points in Geelong.

Big guns Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett have tuned up for the AFL finals in style as Geelong locked in a guaranteed top-two finish with a commanding 68-point win over Carlton at GMHBA Stadium.

Dangerfield booted a game-high four goals to go with 34 possessions, Ablett had three goals and 28 disposals and youngster Quinton Narkle (27 possessions) was almost as good as the headline duo as the Cats won 19.15 (129) to 8. 13 (61).

Despite heavy rain falling for much of Saturday's match, Geelong's winning score was their biggest since they kicked 21.7 (133) in a 44-point win over the Western Bulldogs back in nine.

The Cats will claim the minor premiership if Richmond beat Brisbane on Sunday.

If the Lions win the MCG clash, the Cats will slip to second spot.

Geelong coach Chris Scott is happy with the form the Cats will take into the finals after they dominated the opening half of the home and away season before inevitably tailing off somewhat after the bye.

"I don't think in the modern game there are many teams that can just obliterate the competition every single week including the finals," he said.

"To an extent you need to prepare for the fact that there might be some lulls in your game and you have to respond as well as you can.

"I think setting up the season in the first half was good for us, but it probably didn't contribute to a really consistent next six or seven weeks.

"We created some of that ourselves deliberately because we prioritised other things.

"We get to now and we think we've prepared really well."

Recalled ruckman Rhys Stanley gave the home side the best possible start on Saturday, directing the opening centre bounce straight to Dangerfield who goaled from long range with only 11 seconds on the clock.

The rain started falling during the quarter-time break, but if anything it only exacerbated the gulf in class between the two teams.

The Cats continued to dominate early in the second quarter, booting seven successive goals before Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy kicked successive majors at the other end to temporarily stem the bleeding.

Carlton were much more competitive in the second half, winning the third term by 10 points, although the Cats regained supremacy in the last term.

Carlton were best served by co-captain Cripps, who had a game-high 35 possessions, while he received good support from Rising Star favourite Sam Walsh and Murphy.

Blues onballer Ed Curnow went off in the third quarter with an Achilles injury and did not return.

Despite the heavy loss, the 17th-placed Blues clearly improved in the second half of the season under David Teague, winning six of their final 11 games, compared to a sorry 1-10 record under his sacked predecessor Brendon Bolton.

"Our guys' effort has been up for 10 weeks straight and today we had periods but we just weren't there for four quarters against really good opposition," said Teague.

"Hopefully our players will learn a little bit and we might even reflect when we come back for pre-season because there was some good learning out of that."

Australian Associated Press