Eagles outlast the Cats in Optus Stadium arm wrestle

Ben Jensen 8 April 2018, AFL Round 3 2018, West Coast Eagles v Geelong Cats The final game for round 3 was certainly the most enthralling, Geelong and West Coast putting on a see-sawing display on the new ‘Optus Stadium’, a stadium which sees the Eagles’ fans traditional boos echoing even more than they used to at Subiaco. The game started with what has sadly becoming typical cat & mouse games by the Cats, Scott Selwood who everyone knew would play came in as a late change – in place of the only specialist ruckman Rhys Stanley. Further adding to the intrigue, Mark Blicavs the Cats’ next most experienced ruckman started on the bench. It was thus up to Esava Ratugolea in his third game to face off against the much more experienced Nic Naitanui, possibly the first time two players of Fijian heritage have contested the opening bounce in a game.

West Coast dominated the second quarter, booting three goals to the Cats’ none, taking a 32 point lead into the main break. But the Cats blitzed the Eagles in the third quarter kicking six goals to the Eagles’ two behinds, leading by 5 points. Gary Ablett did his hamstring a few minutes into the final term, to a pretty disgusting huge roar from the crowd – the Cats down to just one on the bench now with Nakia Cockatoo and Cameron Guthrie already ruled out for the rest of the game. It looked unlikely the Cats would have enough to hold on but they had other ideas; Eagle Mark Le Cras kicked a goal to bring his side back to within a kick but quick goals to Esava Ratugolea and Tim Kelly put the Cats up by 14 points briefly hushing the stadium before they resumed ‘booing’.

Jack Darling answered back with two goals, one from a strong pack mark the other a free kick, the Cats’margin reduced to just three points with six minutes remaining on the clock. A horrible mistake by the Cats in the goal square gave the Eagles the lead back, Andrew Gaff doing himself some real damage in the process, being helped off by the trainers. We won’t carry on with the commentary, the Eagles piled on the goals from then on, getting 15 points clear with less than four minutes to go making the game all but over. It was very soon over mercifully, the Cats giving the Eagles far too much in the second quarter and running out of players in the end.

Just back to the West Coast fans who spent the game booing which we are largely at peace with, but when a roar louder than when Cathy Freeman won gold in 2000 because Gary Ablett had injured his hamstring, you have to call it out. They’re not sports fans they’re idiots. For good measure the stadium controllers put the Eagles theme song on when Tom Hawkins had his (successful) shot at goal after the final siren.

Next week the Cats play their first game at GMHBA Stadium of the season, hosting win-less St Kilda, the match kicking off at 3:20PM on Sunday, telecast on Fox Footy.

WEST COAST: 4.6, 7.9, 7.11, 14.11. (95) DEFEATED
GEELONG: 2.2, 2.7, 8.10, 11.14 (80)

WEST COAST: Ryan 3, LeCras 3, Sheed 2, Darling 2, Shuey, Redden, Naitanui, Gaff
GEELONG: Hawkins 3, Ratugolea 2, Bews, Kelly, Tuohy, Menzel, Fogarty, Menegola
WEST COAST: Sheed, Gaff, Shuey, Hurn, Ryan, LeCras
GEELONG: Dangerfield, Menegola, Ablett, Tuohy, Stewart, Ratugolea

WEST COAST: Ryan (ankle)
GEELONG: Cameron Guthrie, Gary Ablett, Nakia Cockatoo

WEST COAST: Duggan, replaced by Hutchings
GEELONG: Rhys Stanley, replaced by Scott Selwod


UMPIRES: Deboy, Gavine, Stevic

CROWD: 54,535 at Optus Stadium, Perth



IN: Esava Ratugolea
Mark O’Connor

B: Jack Henry, Jake Kolodjashnij, Tom Stewart
Zach Tuohy, Mark Blicavs, Jed Bews
Cameron Guthrie, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola
Cory Gregson, Esava Ratugolea, Brandan Parfitt
James Parsons, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel
Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett
Nakia Cockatoo, Lachie Fogarty, Zach Guthrie, Tim Kelly
Jordan Cunico, Jordan Murdoch, Mark O’Connor, Scott Selwood


B: Brad Sheppard, Tom Barrass, Shannon Hurn
HB: Liam Duggan, Jeremy McGovern, Jackson Nelson
C: Chris Masten, Elliot Yeo, Jamie Cripps
HF: Jack Redden, Jake Waterman, Liam Ryan
F: Mark LeCras, Jack Darling, Scott Lycett
FOLL: Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff
INT: Dom Sheed, Daniel Venables, Lewis Jetta, William Rioli
EMER: Thomas Cole, Will Schofield, Brayden Ainsworth, Mark Hutchings


Geelong banner (photo credit: Nick Wade)

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