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Match Report: Danger delivers, Cats win thriller

Highlights: Cats v Hawks The Cats and Hawks clash in round 17
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats kicks the ball during the 2017 AFL round 17 match between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Patrick Dangerfield booted 5.6 in a remarkable display

AN ASTONISHING performance from Patrick Dangerfield has driven Geelong to a famous three-point win over Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday.

Isaac Smith missed the chance to win the game for the Hawks with a running shot at goal which missed to the right with the final kick of the game.

Dangerfield delivered a miracle at the home of football, returning to the ground after hurting his left foot in a clash with Jarryd Roughead in the opening quarter, to move forward and monster the Hawks' defence to the tune of five goals, six behinds.

GAME-BREAKER: Danger goes from hobbled to hero

The Cats looked home when they led by 17 points with less than six minutes remaining, but Hawthorn kept coming and Geelong eventually hung on 13.10 (88) to 12.13 (85).

It was a memorable finish to an unforgettable match, with Dangerfield the matchwinner after bagging five majors with an injured leg which forced him to have to play at full-forward.

There were many heroes in Luke Hodge's 300th game, with the four-time premiership player giving the Hawks a sniff when he kicked a right foot snap with just 22 seconds remaining to push the result down to the wire. 

Tom Mitchell was also brilliant, kicking two goals and collecting 43 disposals after having three touches and a goal within the first 45 seconds. 

He had 19 touches at quarter-time and once again won the final clearance to set up Smith's shot for goal. 

With Scott Selwood out injured, the Cats were searching for answers to curb Mitchell's impact at the break and decided on Mark Blicavs to harass him at stoppages and keep an eye on him around the ground.

But Mitchell was superb, playing Conor McGregor to Dangerfield's Floyd Mayweather in a classic duel between two of the Brownlow favourites.

However Dangerfield won the day after being carted from the ground during the first quarter with what looked to be a serious leg injury. The superstar returned in dramatic fashion to kick 5.6 and turn the game Geelong's way. 

The Cats won the battle in tight and Dan Menzel provided great support with three goals and looked to have control after a dominant third quarter. 

Mitch Duncan was excellent in the middle and the Cats were able to capitalise in front of goal at times Hawthorn could not.

Geelong coach Chris Scott was pleased to come away with the win given it was a great contest against a very good team.

"They've completely turned their game around which is a credit to them. Their system is really strong and they defended really well," Scott said.

"They are going to be hard to beat on the run home."

The Cats top the ladder temporarily following another classic, while the Hawks sit in 13th spot after earning just two points in the past two weeks when they were so close to getting maximum return. 

Hawthorn was much better at the fall of the ball inside 50 while Geelong looked threatening in the air up forward. 

Hawks youngster Daniel Howe did a good job blanketing Joel Selwood for the first three quarters, with the Geelong skipper also receiving treatment from his counterpart Jarryd Roughead in another subplot to an intriguing game. 

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said the difference in the game was that the Cats used the ball more effectively.

"We played with great spirit and tried hard but Geelong were just a little bit more polished with the ball than what we were," Clarkson said.

"We just gave it back too often. We had the ball more often than they did.

"We won clearances (and) a lot of the key statistics that should indicate that we'd win. But we weren't quite as composed as the more experienced Geelong side.

"That was the difference in the game."

Geelong heads to Adelaide Oval to play the Crows on a Friday night with a top-four spot on the line. The Cats beat the Crows in round 11 at Simonds Stadium but the trip interstate will be tough. Hawthorn heads to Perth to play Fremantle in a game between two teams unsure if finals are still on the cards. 

After losing Andrew Mackie to a wrist injury and Scott Selwood with hamstring tightness pre-game, Patrick Dangerfield hurt his foot midway through the first quarter. He was proppy but played out the rest of the game from the forward 50. Dangerfield expects to be sore for a couple of days but remains uncertain as to the exact nature of the injury. The Cats expect Mackie to return next week and while Scott Selwood should play the Cats must be uncertain given he was a live chance to play until Saturday morning. Cam Guthrie copped a heavy knock when Luke Hodge kicked him in the head but he finished the game on the ground and was fine after the game. 

Shaun Burgoyne battled a hand injury which was strapped while James Sicily hurt his ankle in the third quarter. Both players played out the game.

GEELONG          3.3    6.7    11.9    13.10 (88)
HAWTHORN      3.2    7.6    9.10    12.13 (85) 

Geelong: Dangerfield 5, Menzel 3, Stanley, Parfitt, Simpson, Tuohy, Selwood
Hawthorn: Mitchell 2, Schoenmakers 2, Shiels, O'Brien, Breust, Smith, Burgoyne, Gunston, Langford, Hodge 

Geelong: Dangerfield, Henderson, Selwood, Menzel, Taylor, Duncan
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Shiels, Gunston, Hodge, Henderson, Hartung


Geelong: Dangerfield (left leg), C.Guthrie (TBC)
Hawthorn: Sicily (ankle), Burgoyne (thumb)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Chamberlain, Meredith, Fleer 

Official crowd: 70,345 at the MCG

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs