The game started almost perfectly for the Cats, and in particular for debutant Brad Close, who slotted a set shot only a minute into the game. But that was to be the only major for either side until deep into the second quarter.
Having taken a one-goal lead into quarter-time, Geelong dominated territory in the second term but were thwarted by Fremantle packing their defensive 50 and some missed sitters. Still searching for a first career goal in his 98th game, Cats defender Jake Kolodjashnij had a chance to break his duck from a 50-metre penalty but sprayed his shot badly. Close could’ve had a second but his soccer effort was errant.
Eventually Mitch Duncan ended the Cats’ run of outs, while down the other end Michael Frederick was unable to capitalise. A toe-poke from Tom Hawkins early in the third term extended the margin to 24 points but Matt Taberner made amends for a dropped chest mark to finally kick Fremantle’s first and cut the margin to three goals at the final change.
But given the Dockers had only kicked one for the entire night that looked like a bridge too far. Hawkins curled through his second to seal the deal in the final term, and all that remained was to determine was if records would be broken.
Cameron Guthrie, Zach Tuohy, Sam Menegola and Mitch Duncan were the standouts for Geelong, while top-10 draft pick Caleb Serong arguably shaded Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield in an intriguing head-to-head battle.
Fremantle’s task had been made harder after midfielder Darcy Tucker succumbed to a hamstring injury in the early minutes, while the sight of Michael Walters hobbling off the ground in the dying minutes soured a forgettable Monday night for the men in purple.
GEELONG 1.2 2.9 3.9 6.12 (48)
FREMANTLE 0.2 0.3 1.3 2.4 (16)
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Menegola, Close, Duncan.
Fremantle: Serong, Taberner.
Geelong: Duncan, Tuohy, Guthrie, Menegola, Hawkins, Blicavs, Taylor.
Fremantle: Fremantle: Brayshaw, Conca, Walters, Serong, Hughes.
Fremantle: Cox (hip) replaced in selected side by Watson, Tucker (hamstring), Walters (hamstring).
20,251 at Optus Stadium.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter