Tom Hawkins (L) and Harry Taylor celebrate a Cats goal against the Bulldogs. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Geelong has ended a three-match losing run with a gritty 23-point victory over AFL premiers Western Bulldogs at Kardinia Park.
Harry Taylor was the unlikely hero up forward on Friday night, the converted defender kicking five goals as the Cats won 16.8 (104) to 12.9 (81).
Dynamic duo Patrick Dangerfield (36 disposals and four goals) and Joel Selwood (29 possessions) were both instrumental in much of the home side’s best work.
Dangerfield set the scene early in the first quarter, burying Marcus Bontempelli in a bone-crunching tackle and then kicking truly from 55 metres out.
The 2016 Brownlow medallist kicked an even better goal later in the term on his non-preferred left foot, on the run, while tucked up against the boundary line.
But with Clay Smith kicking two early goals, the Bulldogs led by nine points at quarter-time.
The Cats ramped up the aggression on man and ball to a whole new level in the second term, kicking 5.5 while holding the Bulldogs scoreless.
After eight mostly fruitless weeks, the plan to convert Taylor finally began to pay dividends, with the two-time premiership defender kicking three of the Cats’ five second-quarter goals.
Tom Hawkins booted the opening goal of the third quarter for the Cats to push the margin out to 32 points.
It was hard to see where the Bulldogs’ next goal was coming from, although it ended up being gifted to them when Sam Menegola dropped a simple mark at the top of the defensive goal square, ending with a major to Jack Repdath.
The Bulldogs then surged away with the last six goals of the third quarter to lead by nine points at the final change.
But the Cats were able to wrest back the momentum in the final term, with Taylor booting a further two goals to finish the night with five.
The Bulldogs’ win-loss record slipped to 5-4 and they could drop out of the top eight by the end of the round, depending on other results.