GEELONG has overcome the late withdrawal of Patrick Dangerfield to take a step closer to the AFL minor premiership with a 45-point belting of St Kilda.
Dangerfield sat out after feeling tightness in his troublesome right calf during the warm-up, having been sidelined for six matches earlier in the season with similar issues.
But the Cats still proved too powerful for the Saints, kicking clear after halftime to post a commanding 17.8 (110) to 10.5 (65) victory at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.
The result extended Geelong’s winning streak to 11 matches – keeping them four points clear on top of the ladder – and was a huge blow to St Kilda’s (11-9) finals hopes amid a tight race for top-eight spots.
The Saints also lost injury-plagued veteran Dan Hannebery to an ankle issue in what was only his second game of the season after repeated soft tissue setbacks.
Tom Hawkins and Isaac Smith kicked three goals each for Geelong as Sam De Koning held St Kilda spearhead Max King to one goal from eight disposals in a battle of the young key position stars at the other end.
Brandan Parfitt celebrated his fresh two-year contract extension in a strong midfield display, finishing with 25 disposals and 10 clearances in the absence of Dangerfield and rested captain Joel Selwood.
It was the first time the Cats have taken to the field without both Selwood and Dangerfield since the latter’s arrival from Adelaide in 2016.
Max Holmes (24 disposals), Sam Menegola (25) and ruckman Rhys Stanley were also important for Geelong.
Brad Crouch (28 disposals) and Jack Steele (20, seven clearances) fought against the tide for St Kilda and defender Callum Wilkie did well on Jeremy Cameron but the visitors had too few contributors.
Geelong led by just four points in the shadows of halftime and pulled away with four unanswered goals during the third quarter, when their superior efficiency in attack told the story.
It was party time for the Cats made as they rattled off nine consecutive majors before Jack Higgins broke the Saints’ drought late in the final term.
Higgins and Tim Membrey finished with two goals each for St Kilda, who have now lost on 11 consecutive trips to Geelong’s Kardinia Park ground, with their most recent win there in 1999.
(C) AAP 2022