GEELONG has fallen to Melbourne in its Round 23 clash at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night by four points.

In a blistering finishing burst, the Demons booted six goals in a row in the final quarter to overturn a 32-point deficit at the last change.

Max Gawn was the hero for the visitors with the match winning goal after the siren helping the Demons secure its first minor premiership since 1964 with a 12.9 (81) to 12.5 (77) victory.

In perhaps the most extraordinary game of the year, the Demons set up a qualifying final clash with Brisbane next week while the third-placed Cats will travel to Adelaide Oval to face Port Adelaide with the top four settled on Saturday.

Gawn kicked the sealer after taking a mark in the dying stages at the top of the goalsquare after Jake Lever sent the ball inside 50. Lever had won the ball on the wing after an out-on-the-full kick before being awarded a 50-metre penalty, an infringement that could prove ultra costly and alter Geelong's finals assault. 

Gawn was magnificent after half-time, finishing with 25 disposals and 39 hitouts, while Clayton Oliver put in an heroic midfield performance with 39 disposals, nine clearances and two goals. Christian Petracca, with 26 disposals, was also strong while Kysaiah Pickett kicked three goals as Melbourne kicked nine goals to two after half-time to pinch the top spot from Geelong's grasp. 

The game wasn't always being played at breakneck speed with every kick, mark or free carrying huge stakes. The first quarter was of two sides working each other out, both dipping their toes in the water of risk but without showing their full hand of cards.

The Dees took a two-point advantage into the opening break after a strong contested mark from Ben Brown late in the quarter, with the former Kangaroos big man slotting his shot.

But it was Geelong's big men who got motoring in the second quarter to drive the Cats into control. Jeremy Cameron marked at the top of the square before Tom Hawkins' strength, smarts and skills saw him boot three goals in the term. The Cats feasted on a centre-square smashing: Patrick Dangerfield bombed long and then set up Bradley Close for another before Gary Rohan converted his kick.

And when Cameron cleverly latched onto the ball on the goal line and kicked his second in the final minute of the quarter, Geelong had broken out to a 39-point lead by half-time after eight unanswered goals. 

It got out to nine before Oliver broke Melbourne's drought, which started a more competitive patch, with the Demons cutting the deficit to 32 points at the final change. Although they had gotten the game back on their level, the margin appeared too big a task to track down.

But Melbourne wasn't reading the script. 

Eyes on next week

The Dees' win sets up a qualifying final clash with Brisbane next week after the Lions snuck into the top-four with their win over West Coast on Saturday. In the clubs' one encounter this season, Melbourne came out on top, beating the Lions by 22 points in a clash played on neutral territory in Sydney. Meanwhile the Cats will take on Port Adelaide in their first final, but will head to Adelaide Oval with confidence given their 22-point win over the Power at the venue in round 13 in what was one of the games of the season. 

00:57 Mins
Published on

Hat-trick Hawkins

Tom Hawkins brilliantly scores three consecutive goals as the Cats start to take over

Published on

Coleman Medal chase gets tight

Carlton and Greater Western Sydney was being played at the same time as this clash but you could have forgiven injured Blues spearhead Harry McKay for keeping a close eye on the Cats contest. McKay entered the game eight goals ahead of Tom Hawkins in the lead for the Coleman Medal but when Hawkins booted three goals in the second term the race was again alive as Hawkins chased down a second consecutive Coleman Medal after his 42-goal season in the home and away campaign last year. Hawkins booted his fourth in the third quarter so had a term to go all out for the individual honour but Melbourne's resurgence stopped Hawkins in his tracks and he closed the regular season with 54 goals.

GEELONG                            2.1     10.2       12.3     12.5 (77)
MELBOURNE                       2.3     3.5     6.7     12.9 (81)

Geelong: Hawkins 4, Cameron 2, Rohan 2, Close, Dahlhaus, Dangerfield, Selwood
Melbourne: Pickett 3, Brown 2, Oliver 2, Spargo 2, Fritsch, Gawn, Viney

Geelong: Selwood, Dangerfield, Hawkins, Smith, Henderson, Guthrie
Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Gawn, Salem, Lever, Pickett

Geelong: Nil
Melbourne: Nil

Geelong: Higgins (unused)
Melbourne: Jordon (unused)