It was less than convincing, but Geelong bounced back from adversity to record a morale-boosting win over Richmond by 10 points on Sunday, 11.9 (75) to 9.11 (65).
The Cats welcomed the Simonds Stadium home crowd with four points and the unfurling of last year’s premiership flag, but not without some pre-match drama as a power outage disrupted ticket processing for over half an hour.
Geelong started strongly to lead by four goals at half-time, but it always felt like Richmond was only a couple of goals away from turning the match into a genuine contest.
While the Tigers found it hard to stop the impact of superstar midfielders Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood, they held their structures far longer than what many would have expected.
North Melbourne’s surprise win over Geelong last week seemed to have the home side rattled, and the Cats failed to put away their opposition in the last term.
Nathan Foley’s goal levelled proceedings with just 12 minutes on the clock, and an unlikely upset was on the cards for a Tigers team full of momentum.
However, Richmond’s inexperience got the better of them as they couldn’t complete the impossible.
Geelong’s numbers around the footy choked any chance of a late forward thrust for the Tigers.
In the last five minutes, two crucial handball interceptions saved the Cats from potentially conceding late goals and the match itself.
Richmond may have finished losers by ten points, but in doing so, earned the admiration of many supporters.
GEELONG 4.1 7.3 10.4 11.9 (75)
RICHMOND 3.1 3.6 7.10 9.11 (65)
Geelong: Stokes 2, Chapman 2, Hunt, Selwood, Hawkins, Podsiadly, Duncan, Motlop, Christensen
Richmond: Nahas 2, Riewoldt, Maric, Vickery, Grigg, Jackson, White, Foley
Geelong: Bartel, Guthrie, Lonergan, Taylor, Mackie, Selwood, Hawkins
Richmond: Foley, Deledio, Cotchin, Nahas, Grigg, Ellis, Tuck.
Geelong: Jesse Stringer replaced George Horlin-Smith at three quarter-time.
Richmond: Matt White replaced Addam Maric midway through the third quarter.
Reports: Trent West (Geelong) for rough conduct on Ty Vickery in the first quarter.
Umpires: Fila, Schmitt, Pannell