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‘Taking full toll’: Ugly Cats beating edging closer to record worst in ‘unheard of’ scenes — LIVE

Geelong is staring down a worrying losing streak, as after their 7-0 start to 2024 they risk a third straight defeat, facing a dangerous Gold Coast side tonight.

The Suns (5-4, 105.6%) are sneakily still in the thick of the finals race, ahead of pre-season fancies like Brisbane, Adelaide and the Bulldogs. They are unbeaten in Darwin over the last three seasons, smashing North Melbourne by 11 goals last week.

The Cats (7-2, 124.3%) could be as low as sixth at the end of the round if things go poorly in the top end, losing a whopping 1079 games of experience at selection including spearheads Jeremy Cameron (concussion) and Tom Hawkins (managed).

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Since the start of the 2021 season, no other side has played more games and won more times at TIO Stadium than the Suns (5-0). On the other hand, Thursday night will represent Geelong’s first-ever home-and-away match in Darwin.

The game gets underway at 7:30pm AEST from Darwin’s TIO Stadium.

Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504), streaming on Kayo or via Hubbl, from 6:30pm AEST.

LIVE MATCH REPORT

The Cats copped a major late blow with Sam De Koning (hamstring tightness) replaced by Zach Tuohy.

Jhye Clark (Cats) and Alex Davies (Suns) were named the subs.

A musical Welcome to Country set the scene at TIO Stadium before the sides entered battle.

A shocking error deep in defence by recalled ruckman Toby Conway gifted Jack Lukosius the first goal of the game! He’ll want that moment back.

Tyson Stengle responded with a kick off the ground that dribbled all the way through for a goal! One goal apiece a few minutes in.

In a similar vein to Conway’s mistake, the Suns got caught out deep in their defence, leading to a snapping goal by Gryan Miers. Zach Tuohy added another after yet another back-half turnover by Gold Coast.

Jack Lukosius snapped his third goal of the first quarter after taking a nice grab in the pocket.

“He is on fire here,” Seven caller Luke Darcy said of Lukosius, who has five kicks, three marks, three goals and two inside-50s.

The Cats reduced their deficit to two points after inclusion Shannon Neale snapped home a nice bending major. 4.2 to 4.0 with five minutes still left in this opening term. An Ollie Henry set-shot goal cemented a three-point Cats lead at quarter-time.

Following the quarter-time break, Tom Stewart didn’t re-enter the field of play. No confirmation of an injury at present, but he is in the Geelong rooms.

A Ben Ainsworth snap opened the second-quarter scoring in Darwin, pushing Gold Coast back in front — it’s already the fourth lead change of the game.

Stewart has returned to the field of play, and Cats fans can breathe a sigh of relief.

A 50-metre penalty conceded by the Suns led directly to a Tanner Bruhn set shot goal. Another lead change, and it’s Geelong by three points early in the second term.

A sizzling Bailey Humphrey snap after he applied suffocating defensive pressure led to the game’s sixth lead change. A David Swallow goal made it an 11-point Gold Coast lead — the biggest advantage for either side tonight.

Simply, the Cats haven’t been able to adjust to the conditions in the same way the Suns have, dropping marks in a host of squandered opportunities.

Sam Day kicked his second goal to make it a 23-point lead for the Suns. Definite danger signs now for Geelong.

A three-player collision between two Suns and a Cat stopped play momentarily.

The goals kept coming for the Suns through Joel Jeffrey and Ben Long, who has two in the quarter alone. By the end of the quarter, it was seven Gold Coast goals to Geelong’s one.

“It was a dominant quarter from the Suns,” Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy at half-time. “Geelong haven’t handled the conditions well at all.”

“They haven’t, and the conditions maybe are a factor in this as well, but the Cats’ game plan is to counter-punch out of the back half, (but) they haven’t scored from intercept out of the defensive half at all,” Fox Footy analyst David King said.

“Zero for a half of football, which is unheard of for the Geelong Football Club.”

At the halfway point, the Suns are +15 in inside-50s, +53 in disposals, +10 per cent disposal efficiency, +35 in marks and +55 in uncontested possessions.

“Unless something drastic happens, it looks like a runaway win for the Suns,” Dunstall added.

Mac Andrew (lower leg) was subbed out at half-time.

The Suns picked up right where they left off to start the second half, with Bailey Humprey saluting early.

Tyson Stengle broke Gold Coast’s run of seven unanswered goals with a long-range strike to drag the margin back to 33 points. However, it was quickly cancelled out by a Ben King goal from close range that cam gifted following a turnover.

Sam Day kicked his third goal of the evening to extend the margin to 46 points. Lukosius (three majors), Humphrey (two) and Long (two) are Gold Coast’s other multiple goalkickers to this point.

“The Gold Coast Suns are taking full toll,” Seven’s Alistair Nicholson said as David Swallow booted his second of the evening.

Gold Coast’s biggest win over Geelong came in 2014 when they won by 40 points. Tonight’s effort is certain to eclipse that.

It’s back-to-back seven-goal quarters (eight in the third) for Damien Hardwick’s Suns, who take a 66-point lead into the final change.

19.7 (121) is Gold Coast’s highest-ever three-quarter-time scoreline, eclipsing its previous record of 17.10 (112).

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