Geelong have bounced back from consecutive losses with a scrappy 20-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
The Cats booted the first three goals and looked in control for much of the night until the Dogs gave them a massive scare in the final term.
They booted three goals in as many minutes to close to within a kick, but Geelong kicked clear again to seal the much-needed 14.11 (95) to 11.9 (75) victory.
The reigning premiers still looked a shadow of the side that has dominated the competition for the past five years and once again lost the contested possession count (148-130) and clearances (45-29).
Steve Johnson was superb with 36 possessions and 14 marks as he enjoyed more time running through the midfield in the absence of James Kelly.
Veteran Paul Chapman was another strong contributor with 27 touches and two goals, while Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie were typically solid off the half-back line.
Up forward, Tom Hawkins booted three goals, while speedster Steven Motlop also chimed in with three including two crucial majors in the final term.
For the Dogs, youngsters Mitch Wallis and Tom Liberatore seem to be getting better by the week with 24 touches each and some very impressive work in close.
Captain Matthew Boyd (34) saw plenty of the ball, while Daniel Giansiracusa and Shaun Higgins booted three goals each.
Geelong came out firing with a ferocious first term that was reminiscent of the team that we have become accustomed to watching since 2007.
They slammed on the first three goals before the Dogs could even get on the scoreboard and it looked like the reigning premiers were back to their best.
Shaun Higgins finally kicked the Dogs' first goal after 20 minutes, but the quarter belonged to Geelong with only some wayward kicking preventing the margin from being larger than the 16 points at quarter-time.
Giansiracusa nailed the first of the second term to reduce the deficit but long goals to Motlop and Taylor Hunt extended the Cats' margin to a game-high 23 points.
It looked as if they would go on and run away with the match, but the Dogs had other ideas with four of the next five goals to reduce the margin to just seven points at half-time.
Liberatore booted the first goal of the third quarter following a strong tackle to get the margin back to a solitary point, but Chapman swung the momentum back in the Cats' favour with two goals in a minute.
His first was a fine snap after a questionable handball from Hawkins, before he marked the resulting centre clearance in the goal square to slam home another.
Higgins kept the Dogs in touch, but a composed set shot from Hawkins gave the Cats a handy 10-point lead at the final change.
Jordan Roughead wasted two golden chances early in the final term before Geelong seemingly put the game to bed with goals to Hawkins and Motlop.
But the Bulldogs wouldn't lie down and two quick goals from Giansiracusa and Higgins suddenly cut the deficit back to nine points.
Substitute Zephaniah Skinner then imposed himself on the contest with a flying snap that remarkably had the Dogs back within a kick.
The next goal was always going to be critical and it went the Cats' way with Motlop running onto a loose ball and slamming home from close range.
Jimmy Bartel added another soon after to effectively seal the match before James Podsiadly got in on the act with the final goal of the match.WESTERN BULLDOGS: 1.1, 6.2, 8.5, 11.9 (75)
GEELONG: 3.5, 6.9, 9.9, 14.11 (95)
GOALS: Western Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 3, Higgins 3, Dickson, Jones, Wallis, Liberatore, Skinner
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Motlop 3, Chapman 2, Mackie, Selwood, West, T. Hunt, Bartel, Podsiadly
BEST: Western Bulldogs: Wallis, Liberatore, Boyd, Cooney, Murphy, Austin
Geelong: Johnson, Chapman, Enright, Mackie, Selwood, Motlop
INJURIES: Western Bulldogs: Veszpremi (Hamstring)
CHANGES: Ayce Cordy replaced in the Western Bulldogs' selected side by Liam Jones
UMPIRES: Pannell, McInerney, Mitchell
CROWD: 29,111 at Etihad Stadium