It was not the most convincing of performances by Chris Scott’s men but one of the marks of a good side is their ability to get the job done even when they are below their best.
The Cats scored in bursts against a Swans side that lacked polish but whose application could not be faulted.
The hosts piled on five goals in a row after being held scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game, then put a gap on the Swans with four on the bounce in 10 minutes to start the second half, stretching the margin to 29 points.
Geelong were harder at the contest, winning the contested possession count by 18, and showed more composure when they had the ball.
Patrick Dangerfield and Tim Kelly led the way for a Cats midfield which batted deeper than Sydney’s while too much fell upon the shoulders on Luke Parker and George Hewett for the Swans.
“It’s not often you come down to Geelong and have more scoring shots – and a fair bit went right for a fair bit of the game,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“We had more scoring shots against Geelong in Geelong – the number one team in the competition – that’s not an easy thing to do. We just need to play the full period.”
Goals were hard to come by for Sydney, who were able to lock the ball inside their forward 50 for decent periods at times for little reward.
Whereas the Cats could score in a hurry, like a batter who can find the boundaries, the Swans were forced to graft, their scores coming on the rare occasions they could find gaps in the field.
There was not much in the inside-50 count for much of the night but the Cats were able to put the Swans defence under more pressure with their forward thrusts.
The Swans forwards were unable to get in sync with their midfielders and couldn’t produce the space to lead directly at the ball carrier often enough.
Lance Franklin had a quiet night, limited to only 12 possessions and one goal, a trademark roost from outside 50.
He blew two chances late in the game, dropping a mark then missing a set shot from 35 metres out which would have trimmed the margin to under two goals with more than four minutes left.
Geelong were slow out of the blocks, well beaten in the clinches and also out-worked. At one point they had fewer possessions and tackles but were able to wake themselves from the slumber without needing a spray at quarter-time from the coach.
It was not a happy homecoming for Dan Menzel, who was playing his first game for his new club, nor was it a great night for Gary Rohan up against his old club.
Menzel looked out of step with his Swans teammates, which is understandable given his limited time on the track during the pre-season. At his best, Menzel is dangerous on the lead and when the ball hits the ground but not so here.
He finished the night with only seven touches and a goal but should benefit from the run.
Rohan has starred for the Cats this year but with four touches and no score was largely unsighted, apart from a goal assist to Hawkins.
GEELONG 5.1 7.2 11.4 13.7 (85)
SYDNEY 3.3 5.8 6.12 8.15 (63)
GOALS Geelong: Hawkins 4, Ratugolea 2, Dangerfield 2, Kelly, Clark, Duncan, Dahlhaus, Miers, Sydney: Haywood 2, Franklin, Papley, Heeney, Reid, Blakey, Menzel
BEST Geelong: Dangerfield, Kelly, Hawkins, Stewart, Blicavs Sydney: Hewett, Rampe, Parker, Lloyd, Reid
INJURIES Geelong: Rhys Stanley (adductor) replaced in selected side by Zac Smith Sydney: TBC Reports: TBC
Umpires: Donlon, Hosking, Harris
Official crowd: 29,021 at GMHBA Stadium
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) 8
Tim Kelly (Geelong) 8
Tom Hawkins (Geelong) 7
George Hewett (Sydney) 7
Tom Stewart (Geelong) 7
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald