Ablett brilliance ends week of controversy
NOT for the first time in his future Hall-of-Fame career, Gary Ablett answered a week of controversy with sublime onfield heroics.
A goalsquare spekky channelling his dad's aerial brilliance and a "how-did-he-do-that" checkside goal beggaring belief combined to steal the show.
What an Easter Monday show it was, his performance putting a full stop to an Instagram mini-scandal and overshadowing everything else on the day.
Fair enough too on a day when he posterised David Mirra with that soaring hanger and effectively killed the contest with a surging goal on the run in the last seconds of the third term.
But spend the time rewinding his audacious checkside goal - you know you want to - and you will find the basis of Geelong's 2019 premiership tilt.
There is Gary Rohan hurtling himself into the air to contest the ball, before Luke Dahlhaus pounces then squirts a quicksilver handball to the 34-year-old footballing genius.
Gary Ablett the Saviour is a mighty hard storyline to look past.
Yet Geelong's forward line is unrecognisable to even last year's front six, and as a result it could march them all the way to the premiership.
Rohan is footy's biggest bang-for-buck player, turning eight kicks into four goals by three-quarter time.
And Dahlhaus is the re-energised modern-day crumber.
With Tim Kelly and Patrick Dangerfield perhaps the best goalkicking midfielders in the game it is the kind of weapon that can turn finals deep in September.
Rohan said post-match he was loving his role at the club after two of those goals set Geelong up in the shadows of quarter time.
"Obviously Tom Hawkins and Buddy Franklin are different footballers but I am trying to use my pace and ability to get around him. It's a pretty dangerous forward line when you see Paddy Dangerfield up there in the last quarter too," Rohan said.
Dangerfield has been in awe of Rohan's impact in perhaps the best five weeks of his career.
As coach Chris Scott said, there is no point finding a forward line that gives great pressure if it doesn't have enough cutting edge to hurt the opponent.
"He is frightening with how hard he goes at the ball," Dangerfield said.
"He can turn on a dime and you have seen those players with broken legs who don't regain their speed, but for him it's never been an issue.
Dahlhaus had the best seat in the house as Ablett kicked the day's best goal - and celebrated accordingly.
"It was pretty special. These are the types of moments I am cherished coming back home. Playing with someone like Gary Ablett, the greatest of all time.
"I was front and square and as soon as you see him run past, you give it. I was celebrating like I actually kicked it. It was so good. They are the kind of moments I will cherish."
"All the changes to the game and we're scoring less," said Alastair Clarkson only a week ago.
A minute into Monday's contest and the brilliant strategist has his star forward Jack Gunston playing half back on Gary Ablett.
As usual, a Clarko surprise move paid off early as Gunston surged upfield to set up the Hawks' second goal.
Ablett was shut out early, Ricky Henderson was on his way to a barnstorming one-goal, 13 possession quarter.
With unlikely extractor Dan Howe and the silky Jaeger O'Meara sharing 11 clearances, the Hawks were belting the Cats in the clearances 24-13 at half time Clarkson had his side in the contest.
As late as the third quarter, as James Worpel's close-range snap put the Hawks within seven points, the midfield dominance gave them a chance.
But as Clarkson had suspected his Hawks were eventually overwhelmed, even if they never gave up.
Down by only 17 points with 10 minutes on the clock, the absences of Tom Mitchell, Ben Stratton, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels finally took their predictable toll.