CATS CLAW PAST ST KILDA AND INTO FINALS
GEELONG earned their twelfth victory of the season over St Kilda at Skilled Stadium this afternoon. In front of 21,673 fans in what was a carnival atmosphere, Geelong kicked off to an early thirty point lead before St Kilda pegged it back to lead at half time. The weather was perfect, as was the buildup to the match- the Sunday Footy Show filmed their two hour show in front of thousands of Geelong fans, charitable organisations made some dollars and Geelong members enjoyed their time in the sun.
It has scarcely been mentioned, but this now gives Geelong twelve wins and six losses, making finals a certainty, not that there was much probability of missing out before this game. Geelong's defeat of St Kilda, and losses by fellow top four sides Brisbane and Port Adelaide, mean Geelong still has a chance of making the top four. However it may be just as beneficial to finish fifth, even without a double chance. Not only that, but Matthew Scarlett derailed the 'G-Train'.
Geelong's Corey Enright cruelly suffered a broken jaw in the first game back in the side, having replaced the injured Brenton Sanderson. Having suffered a broken arm earlier in the season, which is now over, it was a bitter blow.. The trend of injuries was to continue. Midway through the second quarter, an errant Tom Harley kick out of defense was sharked brilliantly by St Kilda's rising star Xavier Clarke. Clarke's knee sickeningly buckled underneath and he was stretchered off, unlikely to play again this season. Tim Callan left the field with what was described as a sore neck, forcing Geelong to be two defenders down, already missing the experienced Sanderson from last week.
Paul Chambers was replaced in Geelong's selected side by versatile tall Henry Playfair. In the first quarter Geelong booted six goals to the Saints' two. Ben Graham, Gary Ablett, Steven Johnson, David Johnson and Paul Chapman all kicked goals. Geelong kicked three goals in the opening five minutes of the game, before the Saints took some control.
Geelong opened up to a thirty-odd point lead, after a quick two goals to one, but that was when stars such as Luke Ball, Brendan Goddard, Nick Riewoldt and Robert Harvey kicked in for St Kilda. The Saints would take a narrow lead into the main break, after kicking six unanswered goals and seven for the quarter. The Saints were certainly economical in front of goal, their solitary behind coming after Geelong's defenders rushed through a snap by Stephen Milne.
As in the first quarter, Geelong kicked an early goal in the third quarter, to take back the lead. For the quarter Geelong kicked five goals one behind to St Kilda's four goals one. Fraser Gherig would boot one goal while his direct opponent Matthew Scarlett ran the length of the field to soccer a goal through himself. Scarlett's return to the 'city' end was greeted by a roaring cheer as thousands of Geelong fans showed their appreciation. But Gherig would see little of the ball himself, although he was good when he did have a set shot. Geelong took a five-behind lead into the final term.
Tom Harley thrashed Nick Riewoldt after half time, the frustrated Riewoldt remonstrating for seemingly no reason at all several times, out of sheer frustration. Darren Milburn, Henry Playfair and Cameron Mooney took turns rendering Aaron Hamill ineffective.
Gary Ablett was relatively quiet but as always kicked a goal just when it was needed. Similarly, Joel Corey and James Bartel gathered possessions and disposed well to keep their team in the hunt. Speaking of Hunt, Josh Hunt was awesome - living up to some of his hype, after an article in the Sunday Age of his 2004 exploits.
For the first fifteen minutes of the last quarter it all appeared to be going horribly wrong; Leigh Montagna booted two goals and the Saints lead by eight points. But soon after Geelong was able to peg that lead back to just one behind; Joel Corey kicking a behind and Steve Johnson a goal. It was up to former skipper Ben Graham to kick from directly in front for the lead. Graham made no mistake, giving Geelong a one goal lead. Kent Kingsley had an attempt at goal soon after but could only manage a behind, after apparently suffering from cramp.
The final five minutes of game time seemed an eternity for Geelong fans, as the Cats chipped the ball around to effectively run the game down. Cool heads like Captain King, Scarlett, Tom Harley, Darren Milburn and Josh Hunt passed the ball between themselves, providing anxious moments for supporters but easing tensions in the coaching box, who had confidence in their players' ability to professional bring home the win.
At the end, it was fitting that Matthew Scarlett held the ball. Scarlett celebrated the win by booting the match ball back down into the side of the RJ Hickey stand. Fans celebrated by singing We are Geelong (LISTEN TO THE SONG IN MP3 FORMAT) over and over again.
It was difficult to pick the best players, but definite inclusions are Ben Graham, who contested, marked and kicked well all day, Joel Corey, Darren Milburn, Josh Hunt, and Tom Harley for his second half. And, of course, Matthew Scarlett. Honorable mentions go to new boy Paul Koulouriotis, who had a number of great spoils and shepherds, things that don't go down on the stat sheet, but defiantly make an impression and valuable contribution to the team.
The Cattery's pre-game prediction was Geelong by 9 points
Next Sunday Geelong play Richmond at the MCG, a Richmond home game. The match, expected to draw just over thirty thousand, is a chance for the Cats to boost their percentage, but nonetheless a 'danger' game. It is Geelong's only game at the MCG this season. Of course that should change come finals time. The Tigers narrowly (and quiet cruelly) lost to Collingwood yesterday, their tenth loss in a row. Last time around, Ben Graham enjoyed himself, kicking 6 goals. MATCH PREVIEW.
GEELONG: 6.2 8.5 13.6 15.11 (101) DEFEATED
GOALS: GEELONG: Graham 4, Kingsley 2, Ablett 2, S Johnson
2, King, Corey, D Johnson, Chapman, Scarlett.
VFL ROUND 18: GEELONG V BENDIGO BOMBERS
MATTHEW SCARLETT CELEBRATED THE WIN BY BOOTING THE GAME WALL INTO THE HICKEY STAND, AFTER DERAILING THE 'G-TRAIN'
WATCH THE WIN ON DVD NOW!
BEN GRAHAM, WHO BOOTED FOUR GOALS, CELEBRATES KICKING WINNING GOAL
JOSH HUNT STOPS AARON HAMILL IN HIS TRACKS