Eagles, Lions close on Cats in AFL

Liam Shiels was best afield in improving Hawthorn's upset win over Geelong.
Liam Shiels was best afield in improving Hawthorn's upset win over Geelong.

Hawthorn have blown the race for the AFL minor premiership open and given their own playoff hopes a massive boost with a shock 24-point win over arch-rivals Geelong at the MCG.

With Liam Shiels best afield in his 200th game, the Hawks got up 12.13 (85) to 8.13 (61) on Sunday for their third straight victory.

Tenth-placed Hawthorn improved their win-loss record to 8-9 as they moved within a game of the top eight.

Geelong have kicked just eight, seven and eight goals in their three losses in the past five matches since the bye - with all of those setbacks coming away from their GMHBA Stadium fortress.

"We're delighted we were able to restrict them, because they can be a very, very potent side in their scoring capacity," said Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson.

"We still have some work to do on our game.

"It sounds a little silly saying that when you've just beaten the side that's taken all before it this year, but we still think there's some improvement in our game.

"It's just opportunity for us to get some belief, that the direction we're going is the right one."

Despite the defeat, the Cats still sit a game and a solid slab of percentage clear of the Brisbane Lions and West Coast (both 48 points) atop the ladder with five rounds of home and away season remaining.

The third-placed Eagles overcame a stiff challenge from Melbourne in Alice Springs before winning 14.7 (91) to 11.12 (78).

Brisbane left it late before outlasting North Melbourne by 12 points at the Gabba, all but extinguishing any remaining hopes the Kangaroos had of participating in the September action.

Fifth-placed Richmond (44 points) are looking more ominous by the week, with twin towers Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt combining for 6.5 in the 15.11 (101) to 9.9 (63) victory over Port Adelaide.

GWS also earned a big win over a fellow finals contender, blowing away fourth-placed Collingwood in the opening quarter of a 19.8 (122) to 11.9 (75) win at Giants Stadium.

Jeremy Cameron moved eight goals clear of Ben Brown in the Coleman Medal race after booting six majors in a best-afield display.

Essendon started round 18 in grand style on Friday night, coming back from five goals down midway through the third quarter to beat Adelaide 15.6 (96) to 10.15 (75).

St Kilda became the latest club to benefit from the bounce that tends to come with the appointment of a caretaker coach.

With Brett Ratten in charge following the departure of Alan Richardson five days earlier, the Saints kicked a triple-figure tally for the first time in 12 months as they shot down the Western Bulldogs by 27 points.

Carlton continue to improve under caretaker coach David Teague, downing Gold Coast by four goals at Marvel Stadium.

Australian Associated Press