STRAIGHT kicking has helped a resilient Geelong hold off a wasteful Melbourne by 29 points in a thrilling contest at Etihad Stadium.
The Demons will rue their poor kicking in the 20.6 (126) to 13.19 (97) result after they missed 11 gettable set shots and led the inside 50 count 57-47.
By contrast Geelong, once again led by brilliant skipper Joel Selwood and superstar Patrick Dangerfield, kicked 11.2 from set shots.
Even after missing six shots at goal in the second quarter, Melbourne looked to have broken the back of the Cats when it moved 15 points clear with a little over a minute to go in the third quarter.
However, poor defending allowed Geelong to take two contested marks in the final minute to draw within three points.
The Demons could not afford to concede those goals as they were being dominated around the stoppages after losing ruckman Max Gawn to a hamstring injury just before half-time.
His absence forced Jack Watts to ruck despite being 10cm shorter than Zac Smith, which enabled the big Cat to end the game with 38 hit-outs and help his side win the clearances 43-38.
That allowed Dangerfield and Selwood to get on top of a gallant Nathan Jones, who was outstanding in the third quarter, and gave a rampant Daniel Menzel the chance to compete one-on-one inside 50.
The freakish Menzel kicked a brilliant banana goal on the three-quarter time siren (to follow on from a similar goal on the run in the second quarter), but it was his competing and spoiling that shone through when the game was on the line.
He helped the Cats kick the first two goals of the final quarter, sapping Melbourne's confidence and forcing the Demons back into their shell.
Menzel finished with four goals while his partner in crime, Tom Hawkins, put in a much more disciplined performance than he had in round two, kicking five goals and conceding no frees after giving away five a week earlier.
Melbourne's review will be brutal as it committed many of football's mortal sins, kicking poorly and leaving Hawkins at one stage to mark uncontested on the goal line.
Disappointed Demons coach Simon Goodwin summed it up post-game when he said the Demons had played well enough to win but Geelong deserved to claim the victory.
"It was frustrating. Clearly you've got to kick goals to win games of footy and we didn't do that today," Goodwin said.
"Geelong, late in the game were terrific, with Dangerfield and Selwood outstanding around the footy."
However the Dees will take heart from their ability to compete around the contest and put the Cats on the back foot, even without suspended pair Jesse Hogan and Jordan Lewis.
Cats coach Chris Scott said although his team were in many ways lucky, it was a hot game of football, and there were good signs from first-year players Brandan Parfitt and James Parsons.
"There were massive periods of the game where they were on top and we just had to find a way to stay in the game and have the faith that if we stuck to it we would get some chances the other way," he said.
Geelong: Lachie Henderson left the ground after a knock to the head midway through the third quarter, but resumed without any problem.
Melbourne: Max Gawn left the ground late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not reappear. Goodwin said the injury would be assessed on Sunday but he was likely to miss the next four weeks.
Melbourne will look to bounce back against Fremantle at the MCG, while Geelong will look to go 4-0 against arch-rivals Hawthorn on Easter Monday.
GEELONG 5.2 9.2 14.2 20.6 (126)
MELBOURNE 2.4 7.11 12.17 13.19 (97)
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Menzel 4, Dangerfield 3, Blicavs 2, Motlop 2, McCarthy, J.Selwood, Smith, Parfitt
Melbourne: Kent 2, Watts 2, Petracca, Smith, Stretch, Hunt, Garlett, Neal-Bullen, Jetta, Hannan, Harmes
Geelong: J.Selwood, Dangerfield, Menzel, Hawkins, Blicavs, Ruggles, Parfitt
Melbourne: Jones, Hunt, Watts, Viney, Stretch, Neal-Bullen, Kent
Geelong: J.Selwood (cut head), Hawkins (corked quad)
Melbourne: Gawn (right hamstring), Kent (cut head)
Umpires: Hosking, Ryan, Mollison
Official crowd: 29,733 at Etihad Stadium