Darren Glass
Darren Glass

West Coast have come from behind to beat Geelong by five points on Friday night at Patersons Stadium as the Cats' injury issues worsened when Tom Hawkins was concussed during the first quarter.

Already without James Kelly (groin), Josh Hunt (quad), Billy Smedts (calf) and late withdrawal Paul Chapman (calf), the Cats lost key forward Hawkins - the hero of last week's epic win over Hawthorn - at the 22-minute mark of the opening term as he crashed to the ground in a marking contest and hit his head on the turf.

Hawkins had to be stretchered from the field but the key forward may be available for next week's clash with St Kilda as he returned to the bench during the second half.

Despite the absentee list, the Cats led at every change and were even ahead by 20 points late in the second term when Steven Motlop kicked truly.

But the Eagles, desperate to atone for last week's derby hiding from Fremantle, gradually gained the ascendancy over the undermanned Cats during the second half to claim a 16.6 (102) to 15.7 (97) victory.

The result sees West Coast maintain fifth position on the ladder, seeing them move level with fourth-placed Hawthorn on 52 points, while Geelong maintain sixth, although they could be overtaken by either North Melbourne (seventh) or Essendon (eighth), who play on Sunday.

It was still a nailbiting final term for Eagles' fans, more than aware of Geelong's comeback against the Hawks last week, but led by superb performances from ruck duo Dean Cox (23 disposals, three goals, 45 hit-outs) and Nic Naitanui (18 possessions, two goals) while Matt Priddis (24, two goals) and Luke Shuey (27) were strong contributors.

The game's final minutes also saw both sides camped out in Geelong's forward line after Naitanui was denied his third goal of the game in the 29th minute after Ton Lonergan received a free kick for an illegal shepherd by Jack Darling in the goal square.

The Cats responded by taking it up the other end for goals to Josh Walker and Steve Johnson, the latter coming with just eight seconds left on the clock.

But Naitanui ensured there would be no after-the-siren heroics from Geelong this week as he took the ball from the centre square and accelerated forward as the siren rang.

Johnson, though, one of the Cats' best with 32 possessions and a goal, will be left to rue a poor moment during the second term when he lined up for goal from 40 metres, the superstar forward kicking casually around the body and seeing his effort marked on the line by Eric Mackenzie.

An opening quarter that lasted 38 minutes provided more thrills and spills than many matches do in their entirety.

On a perfect night for footy, the Eagles opened with early goals to Cox and Quentin Lynch but were soon reeled in and overtaken by Geelong as the Cats booted five of the next six goals.

Tougher in the clinches, Geelong may have been losing the hit-outs 19-5 but they won the clearances 17-12 in the first term and once free of the congestion, had more players working harder to take the ball forward and make the Eagles pay for their numerous mistakes.

Although they're not known for losing the free kick count at home, West Coast conceded three frees for Geelong's first three goals, but it was the Cats' fourth major that looked set to have a bigger impact on the contest as Hawkins went down for the count, although his attack on the ball led to Stokes kicking truly.

Trailing by 16 points at quarter-time, the Eagles lifted and dropped the margin down to just two midway through the second term before a late Geelong burst saw the Cats kick three unanswered goals in as many minutes to ensure they led by 14 at the main break.

But with an extra rotation up their sleeve, West Coast lifted in the third quarter, kicking four goals to two to only trail by a point at the last change.

'''WEST COAST:''' 3.1, 7.3, 11.6, 16.6 (102)
'''GEELONG:''' 5.5, 9.5, 11.5, 15.7 (97)

'''GOALS: West Coast:''' Cox 3, Lynch 3, Naitanui 2, Gaff 2, Priddis 2, Kerr, Darling, Shuey, Masten
'''Geelong:''' Podsiadly 3, Stokes 2, Hawkins, Christensen, Motlop, Hunt, Simpkin, Johnson, Walker, Bartel, Murdoch
'''BEST: West Coast:''' Cox, Naitanui, Priddis, Kerr, Shuey, Gaff, Hurn
''' Geelong:''' Johnson, Lonergan, Christensen, Mackie
'''INJURIES: West Coast ''' Nil
''' Geelong:''' Hawkins (concussion)
'''SUBSTITUTES: West Coast:''' Andrew Embley for Tom Swift (3rd quarter)
''' Geelong:''' David Wojcinski for Tom Hawkins (1st quarter)
'''CHANGES: West Coast ''' nil
''' Geelong:''' Chapman (thigh) replaced by Wojcinski,
'''REPORTS:''' nil
'''UMPIRES:''' Stevic, Schmitt, Pannel
'''CROWD:''' 37,812 at Patersons Stadium, Perth


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