Cats taught us a harsh AFL lesson: Hird
Geelong have shown they are as great a premiership threat as any AFL club and that Essendon still have a lot to learn, says Bombers coach James Hird.
The seventh-placed defending premiers stunned sixth-placed Essendon 20.14 (134) to 10.7 (67) at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, their biggest win for the year.
The Cats' victory was built on dominance in winning the contested ball and clearances, with premiership veterans Joel Corey and James Kelly leading the way.
Youngster Mitch Duncan also starred, while key forward Tom Hawkins booted five goals and Steve Johnson shone in the midfield and attack before being subbed off in the third term with groin soreness.
The performance was the strongest indication yet the Cats remain capable of going back-to-back and Hird has little doubt they are good enough.
"They're as good as we've played this year," he told reporters.
"It was a bit about maybe we didn't come up to the mark.
"But in terms of the way an opposition pressured us around the ball and defended the ground and then were able to move it through our midfield, that was as good as we've played.
"They've got some very good players, 15 or 16 premiership players, in their side so I can't see why they're not right up there with the best."
Hird, whose side meets other premiership contenders Hawthorn and Adelaide over the next fortnight, said at least the Bombers learnt first-hand exactly the sort of football that wins big matches.
"I'm glad to a certain extent we got it now and not in a final like we did last year," he said.
"It's good to get the lesson but we need to learn from those lessons.
"We're a fair way to being where we want to be."
Cats coach Chris Scott said it was clearly his side's best performance this season but that wouldn't make it any easier to play that way in coming weeks.
"If anything, it gives our players a little bit of belief that when we do the things we talk about we're still a pretty good team," he said.
Scott was hopeful Johnson would be fit to play the Crows.