Geelong coach Chris Scott has thrown his support behind Gary Ablett, saying he will understand if the Cats star does not return to AFL action this season due to personal reasons.
The Cats may not look like they need any assistance after putting the competition on notice with Friday night’s 60-point win over ladder leaders Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium inspired by Tom Hawkins’ six goals.
But Scott said they would welcome back Ablett with open arms after it emerged the matchwinner hoped to grab the next AFL official flight to Queensland on September 1 with the aim of playing two games before finals.
However, Scott wasn’t getting ahead himself on Friday night after learning Ablett’s mother in law had passed away in another blow for the Cats star.
Ablett’s wife Jordan announced her mother Trudy had died on Sunday night, prompting the Cats to wear black arm bands in their thrashing of Port.
Ablett has not played since leaving Geelong’s WA hub last month after revealing the couples’ son Levi was battling a rare and degenerative disease.
“If you wouldn’t mind I am going to keep my message to the Abletts private,” Scott said when asked about their family loss.
“What I will say publicly is that we love them and will support them as much as possible — if that meant that he wasn’t going to play football this year then so be it.
“Gary has had several concerns that he has been working through over the last year or so.
“It would be great to have him back if we could get him back.
“If he needed to stay then we are right behind him as well”.
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The Cats are purring without Ablett after kicking seven straight final term majors against a shellshocked Port to leapfrog Brisbane into second spot with their third straight win.
Hawkins was unstoppable, taking a staggering seven contested marks to comfortably win his duel with Port key forward Charlie Dixon.
The previously in-form Dixon finished with just three disposals for the match as the AFL’s tightest defence swarmed.
Scott said Coleman Medal leader Hawkins — who took his season goal tally to 30 — was in the form of his life.
“Ï think he is in the best shape that I have seen him in,” he said.
“He has become a true pro. He leads what is a pretty young and inexperienced forward line for us really well.
“I can’t remember him playing much better.”
Geelong has thrashed St Kilda by 59 points and the ladder leaders by 10 goals in their past two games.
But Scott was still trying to play down their premiership credentials ahead of their next clash against cellar dweller Adelaide on August 23.
“It’s a strange year, isn’t it,” he said.
“in my view it is difficult to draw too many conclusions from results because there are going to be swings and roundabouts when it comes to the compressed season.
“Ï don’t think we will be getting ahead of ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Port coach Ken Hinkley said his side would not be dwelling on the result ahead of their clash with Hawthorn on August 22.
“We didn’t win enough contests, we didn’t have enough energy for the contest,”he said.
“Geelong cleaned us up big time. We have to learn from tonight.
“We have to go back and keep working, there’s still five or six games to go.
“It’s a really unusual season, it’s going to have some poor performances.
“We’ve been lucky our poor performances have been pretty well spaced and we’re on top of the ladder.”
CATS TOMAHAWK LADDER LEADER
Any doubts over Geelong’s premiership credentials have been dismissed after Tom Hawkins inspired the Cats’ 60 point upset over ladder leaders Port Adelaide in Friday night’s AFL blockbuster at Metricon Stadium.
After Geelong flexed their muscles to thrash St Kilda by 59 last round, the Cats showed no signs of fatigue in their fifth game in 19 days as Hawkins ran amok with six goals in their 14.7 (91) to 4.7 (31) thrashing – their third straight win.
Coleman Medal leader Hawkins proved the difference in a sometimes scrappy clash as Geelong put the competition on notice by snapping Port’s three game winning run and leapfrogging Brisbane into second spot.
The Cats now appear worthy contenders after extending their remarkable record against Port, winning 14 of 17 games since destroying the Power in the 2007 grand final.
POWER OUTAGE AT METRICON STADIUM
Port Adelaide will be ruing their slow start against the Cats after a chance to all but lock up a top two finish went begging.
A lethargic Port Adelaide looked like they were the team playing their fifth game in 19 days after they were ambushed by a Cats outfit recovering from a four day turnaround, only getting on the board in the opening term thanks to a rushed behind.
It would’ve been just the second time in the last 30 years the team on top of the ladder had been kept scoreless in the first quarter.
They didn’t recover as Geelong kicked seven fourth term goals as Port fell to their first loss in five games this year at Metricon Stadium.
Adding further insult, Port’s percentage dropped from 142 to 127 giving second placed Brisbane a sniff of claiming the ladder lead if they win by 53 points or more against North Melbourne on Saturday.
HAWKINS WINS BATTLE OF THE BIG MEN
Port’s ladder leading form had been hard to criticise but there was one niggling question – would Port struggle to dominate the scoreboard if in-form forward Charlie Dixon did not have his usual influence?
The answer was provided on Friday night – and it wasn’t pretty for Port.
It was always going to be a challenge for Dixon to add to his 21 season goals against the AFL’s tightest defence.
But few would have predicted how much he struggled, restricted to just one hit out for the entire first half after being well held by Harry Taylor.
Dixon was still restricted despite Taylor appearing to be hobbled by a second quarter collision with teammate Jake Kolodjashnij, finishing with three disposals with not one shot on goal.
In contrast, Hawkins tormented Tom Clurey to extend his season goal tally to 30 by kicking a bag along with seven contested marks.
CATS ONLY GOING TO GET BETTER
It was a head turning display from the Cats but in a scary thought for rivals they may yet be weeks off from reaching their full potential judging by the talent biding their time on the sidelines.
Gun on-baller Jack Steven was rested and power forward Esava Ratugolea was overlooked for the third straight match despite coach Chris Scott admitting the Cats forward line were a better proposition with the 22-year-old in it.
Classy forward Nakia Cockatoo is still waiting in the wings to play his first senior match since 2018.
And there is no definitive return date for superstar Gary Ablett but is reportedly a chance to enter quarantine before September 1 to play games before the Cats enter the finals.
GEELONG 2.3 4.3 7.7 14.7 (91)
PORT ADELAIDE 0.1 1.6 3.7 4.7 (31)
Geelong: Hawkins 6, Rohan 3, Atkins, Fogarty, Guthrie, Henderson, Menegola
Port Adelaide: Farrell, Georgiades, Lycett, Woodcock
Port Adelaide: Boak, Powell-Pepper, Houston, Amon
Geelong: Hawkins, Dangerfield, Guthrie, Menegola, Taylor
Port Adelaide: Nil.
Geelong: Simpson (hamstring)
3. Hawkins (Geelong)
2. Dangerfield (Geelong)
1. Guthrie (Geelong)
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