Geelong’s attacking ace Tom Hawkins has kicked four goals and produced a game-busting burst in a spirited 19-point away win over Adelaide.

Hawkins slotted three goals in a dozen minutes after the Crows briefly hit the front in the third quarter of Geelong’s 14.12 (96) to 11.11 (77) victory at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

The 35-year-old’s match-turning feats were decisive in Geelong banking consecutive wins to open their season.

Geelong brought manic midfield pressure all night.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/James Elsby)

Adelaide now have two losses ahead of a testing trip to Fremantle next weekend.

Hawkins, in his 349th AFL game, was dominant while Tom Stewart (28 disposals, 11 marks) was superb in his 150th.

Gryan Miers was another stand-out with three goals and 26 possessions, Jeremy Cameron kicked two goals, skipper Patrick Dangerfield collected 23 disposals against his former club and Max Holmes (24 touches) was creative from halfback.

Adelaide’s Darcy Fogarty, Izak Rankine, Taylor Walker and Chris Burgess kicked two goals apiece.

Adelaide’s Ben Keays put a stop to the run of a pitch invader at Adelaide Oval, but security were slower to get to the scene.(Getty Images: Mark Brake)

The game came to a standstill briefly in the third quarter when a pitch invader ran onto the field and into a group of players contesting the ball. Adelaide players Matt Crouch and Ben Keays confronted the man before security took him off the ground.

Midfielder Matt Crouch gathered a match-high 38 disposals and Rory Laird (29 touches) was also busy, but the Crows were always playing catch-up after being jumped by Geelong in the opening quarter.

Look back at how the action unfolded in our live blog.

Key events

Final score

That’ll do us from Friday night footy

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A good night for Geelong, and a dream start to the season for the Cats. Another tough one for Adelaide to take, with a tough trip to face Freo awaiting the Crows. They are certainly on notice already early in the year.

That’s it from me for tonight! I’ll be back with Andrew McGarry tomorrow to steer you through Saturday footy, so be sure to head back to the blog then. Until then, have a lovely night.

Key Event

Tom Stewart dominates his 150th game


Another shout out for Tom Stewart, who was absolutely outstanding tonight in his milestone game.

He finished with 11 marks — 10 of those intercepting — 28 disposals, 15 intercept possessions and seven score involvements. He marshalled Geelong’s defence beautifully and was the impassable brick wall Adelaide ran into time and time again.

Looks in good shape to claim a sixth All Australian this year. He spoke to Channel Seven after the game:

“I’m really proud of the boys. We knew we were probably against it over here. So, so proud of this group and so thankful to the Geelong Football Club to be a part of it.

“I’m getting a bit emotional now. Like, it’s something I really cherish, to be able to celebrate with my best mates and my kids and my wife and my mum tonight, my sister. I will really enjoy this one. They mean so much to me.”

Tomahawk makes his mark


Next week will be Tom Hawkins’s 350th game, on Easter Monday against Hawthorn, but the big Cat started celebrating a bit early.

Four goals all up, and three in a critical third-quarter burst, is a big night for the superstar veteran. Jeremy Cameron could have matched his tally if not for a wayward final term.

The Crows couldn’t handle Geelong’s twin towers, who both look in ominous early season form.

Key Event

FT: Cats complete 19-point win to leave Crows reeling at 0-2

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Geelong might be back.

Wins over St Kilda and Adelaide away to start the season is a serious statement for a club scarred by a disappointing 2023. The manner of their victory tonight — professional, mature, meticulous — will be particularly pleasing for Chris Scott and the Cats. They stood up to one of the league’s highest-scoring teams and completely shut them down, silencing the crowd and grinding out the win.

Tom Stewart, in his 150th game, was something else. Best afield by a mile in my books. The Crows’ midfielders had busy nights, but Stewart’s defensive presence and intercepting ability was just about the difference in the game.

Concerns for Adelaide? The backline was the big worry coming into the season and those deficiencies were highlighted tonight. The Cats are going to be tough to break down all year, but there was a lack of run and dare in Adelaide tonight that is unlike them. Plenty of time for Matthew Nicks to work things out, but 0-2 is an uncomfortable spot for the Crows to be in.

Izak Rankine kicks a quite miraculous goal

Well that’s pretty outrageous. The heat has very much gone out of the game, but there was still just enough time for Rankine to slot one from as close to the boundary line as is possible.

A highlight for Crows fans to go home with.

Brad Close adds another! Percentage boosters for Geelong

I think Brad Close was trying to pass that to a leading forward, but it missed everyone by enough that it was able to trickle all the way through.

The lead is out to 26 points, and the Cats will feel that is representative of their overall control of the game.

Gryan Miers kicks the sealer! Geelong will win in Adelaide!

With all the Adelaide numbers pushed up the ground, it was only going to take one good break for Geelong to threaten the goals.

Henry, Close, Stengle and Miers combined to get it out the back, and that goal shuts the door on Adelaide.

Meanwhile, Patrick Dangerfield is on the bench looking a little concerned about his hamstring. One to watch after this one wraps up.

Two minutes to play

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I think Geelong have done enough. They haven’t kicked a goal in this last quarter, but they’ve kept Adelaide to just two so far.

Three minutes to play

The Cats are hanging on a bit now, but Adelaide need to find three goals in 3:30. Geelong have numbers back, but it’s going to be an Adelaide avalanche to see out this game.

Fogarty hits the post! He’s missed an open goal! From 10 metres!

Harder to miss than kick the goal from there. Darcy Fogarty was out the back, streaming into an open goal. The crowd was ready to erupt.

He shanked it into the post. How costly will that be for Adelaide?

Six minutes to play.

Reilly O’Brien goals for Adelaide! Something from nothing!

It’s back to 16 points! The big Crows ruck pinched it from Blicavs, threw it on the boot and watched it sail through.

The Cats have given Adelaide a chance. Are they good enough to take it?

Clock is ticking for Adelaide

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More misses for the Cats, but even though they haven’t killed the game off they have managed to burn plenty of clock.

There’s only eight minutes left to play in this one. Crows need four goals.

Cameron misses some chances to ice this one

Jeremy Cameron has now kicked three consecutive behinds for Geelong. None of them have been easy, but all three have been kickable for a player of his quality.

Stengle is the latest to miss a chance. The Cats had been so accurate in front of goal for three quarters, but these misses are keeping the door ajar for the Crows.

Tex Walker strikes! First blood Adelaide!

The Crows had to be methodical, but they were still brave with their ball use through the middle of the ground. The upshot was a one-on-one battle between Walker and the much smaller Jack Henry.

After yet another score review, Walker’s goal is confirmed. It’s a 19-point game, 15:57 on the clock.

Final quarter is underway

What do these Crows have left in the tank? An 0-2 start would raise some uncomfortable questions for a team expected to take the next step this year.

A quarter left to change the narrative.

Key Event

3QT: Hawkins leads Cats to 24-point lead over stunned Crows

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That was so professional from Geelong. Ruthless, precise. They stood up to Adelaide when they were operating at their peak and systematically shut them back down again.

Tom Hawkins was the beneficiary in the forward line, but the work was done all over the ground. Patrick Dangerfield lifted in that term to help turn the midfield tide, and Tom Stewart is in line for Brownlow votes in his 150th.

The blueprint is there for Adelaide, and they’ve come back from this sort of position once before in this game. But it’ll take something special from here, against a Cats side that is looking far more like the 2022 version than its 2023 cousin.

Tom Stewart just dropped a car

Or whatever it is you get for mark of the year these days. You’ve got to be holding on to those Tom, for all of our sakes.

Hawkins has four! Cats on a massive charge now!

Geelong have started winning clearances, and — at risk of repeating myself — the Crows defence is powerless to stop quick Geelong entries.

Dangerfield found Dempsey, who hit up Hawkins by hand, who snapped his fourth of the night and third of the quarter.

Ollie Henry makes it three in a row for Geelong

When Adelaide kicked those two quick ones to start the quarter, and then Izak Rankine gave them a lead, you wondered if they would start to overrun the Cats in this quarter.

Not the case. Geelong have regathered themselves, held their nerve and swung momentum back their way. And they have crucially taken their chances in front of goal, establishing another 18-point lead. Six minutes to play in the third.