THEY were brave and bold and five minutes into the final term looked some chance of upsetting the Geelong applecart when they got within a point of the premiers in the final term.
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But as quickly as that hint of a shock win entered the mind it was obliterated by a rapid and late goal rush by the Cats, who piled on seven majors to temporarily lift themselves into sixth spot on the ladder, which keeps Chris Scott’s team hopeful of securing a home final.

For St Kilda, the prospects of a post-home-and-away campaign in 2012 are diminishing rapidly. The defeat leaves the Saints on 40 points, four behind Essendon (which plays Carlton today) and Fremantle (which meets Richmond in Perth today) and relying on events outside their control.

Tom Hawkins was the architect of the Cats’ victory with a slashing six-goal haul, while Stephen Milne and Ahmed Saad, with four and three respectively, were the Saints major contributors.

The Saints lost youngster Rhys Stanley to injury in the third quarter. He was taken to hospital with suspected fractured ribs. And Lenny Hayes is likely to come under scrutiny over his second-quarter clash with Taylor Hunt.

The veteran midfielder crashed into the Cat youngster’s head, leaving the 21-year-old battered and bruised and forced to leave the ground, although he returned later. From the subsequent 50-metre penalty, Steven Motlop slotted home a goal for the Cats.

The Cats had already begun to dominate on the stats sheet and establish their superiority on the scoreboard. Four Tom Hawkins goals in the opening half helped them to a 34-point lead at the interval and they looked set to coast to victory against a team that seemed to lack the required fluency and intensity.

But Milne, who so often provides a spark for his team, breathed life into a lacklustre St Kilda with an early third quarter goal – his fourth of the night – to spark a revival that would get the Saints to within 13 points at the final change. In the process the Saints did something that has not been done for a long time in keeping Geelong goalless for a quarter.

St Kilda coach Scott Watters subbed off the ineffective Justin Koschitzke then rejigged his front line, relying on the smaller men – Milne and Ahmed Saad – to keep them in touch as they went for broke to salvage the win that would keep their season alive into the final fortnight of the campaign.

It looked a distinct possibility as the outsiders got on a roll and kicked five in a row to close within a point of the reigning premiers early in the final term as the tension rose among the 38,000-plus crowd.

But Geelong’s resilience was not to be denied. Hawkins pushed the advantage out to seven points, Jordan Murdoch gave the Cats a 13-point breathing space soon after and defender Andrew Mackie produced a monster kick from outside the 50-metre mark to extend the advantage to 19 points. When Hawkins drilled his sixth goal of the night in the 22nd minute of the final term he was icing the cake.

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