...thank your mother for the rabbits
Hawthorn 11.9.75 d Geelong 8.9.57
On Friday night the Hawks administered, if not the last rights, then the prognosis for Geelong's finals aspirations. While it was not until Sunday afternoon at Manuka Oval in Canberra that Geelong was officially written out of the finals series, it was clear that in the end Geelong ran out of gas a few weeks ago and were not good enough this year. On Friday night at the terrible quality Colonial Stadium the Hawks opened their account with a 5 goal first quarter, while the Cats could only manage 2 behinds. From there on the Cats outscore Hawthorn 8 goals to 6 but it was not enough to win, the Hawks prevailing by two goals, after the Cats kicked a goal deep into junk time. In consolation, the Cats won the little league against the heavyweight Hawks 7.13 to 0.1.
The weekend got worse for Geelong, as the VFL team went down to Port Melbourne on Saturday at Port Melbourne's home ground, TEAC Oval. Then on Sunday afternoon the West Coast Eagles won just their second game outside Western Australia in Canberra, defeating the Kangaroos by a touch under four goals. Twenty five or so Geelong players watched the game from Peter Riccardi's house (right) yesterday afternoon, and emerged looking like they'd just seen their season end in front of their eyes. (Oh, they did...)
The one positive from Friday night was the sparkling form across half back of Mitchell White, the leadership of Ben Graham and the fact I managed to get a seat on the train ride home. Hawthorn Captain Shane Crawford was unstoppable early, Geelong eventually settling with Tom Harley on him. While Harley was good against reigning Premiership and Brisbane skipper Michael Voss, he was ineffective (as everyone else was) against Crawford, who has a habit in recent years of finding his best form against the Cats.
On Saturday, recently dropped James Bartel starred against Port Melbourne, as did Andrew Merriman, Gary Ablett and Brent Grgic. For Port Melbourne, the ball biter, Peter Filandia played the best game of his rather turbulent season, the captain & assistant coach inspiring his teammates after he was forced from the field after being "buggered", after carrying a virus into the match. Next week Geelong faces Melbourne affiliate Sandringham, who, unlike Geelong, do not have the luxury of a full list to chose from, many of their better players on duty for Melbourne in the AFL.
What does Geelong take out of season 2002? Besides 11 wins, 9 freshly blooded rookies, the Cats can take heart in that during a designated rebuilding year, they nearly made the finals, and had wins against teams like Collingwood, Essendon, St Kilda (only kidding). Far from being disappointed, Geelong fans should be thankful that the Club gave such good value for money this season, rather than concentrate on losing the last few games. After all, coach Mark Thompson was the favorite to be sacked first early on in the season.
As Thompson himself said yesterday "We brought young people not just into our club but into our senior side and they have shown us they deserve to be there. I know a lot of people didn't tip us to make the top eight. In fact they had us getting the wooden spoon".
1 Port Adelaide72
That's all, Folks
The man who did most of the damage, Hawthorn Captain & Brownlow aspirant Shane Crawford.