CATS SPANK SAINTS BY TEN GOALS,
CEMENT SECOND SPOT ON AFL LADDER
By Ben Jensen AFL ROUND 10: ST KILDA V GEELONG GEELONG earned their fifth win in a row over St Kilda, with a thumping ten goal win over St Kilda at Telstra Dome tonight after holding the Saints goal-less in the final quarter, cementing their second position on the AFL Ladder. The Cats deserved their win, with a four quarter effort. Captain Tom Harley returned to the side, as did Paul Chapman, after spells out with injury. A St Kilda home game, the crowd was 42,188.
GEELONG 7.2 (44) 10.5 (65) 15.8
(98) 19.11 (125) DEFEATED
In the first quarter, Geelong, while not making full use of the ball were clearly the better side, and led St Kilda by 19 points at quarter time. David Wojcinski took a run down the ground from the centre, rounding two Saints taking two bounces to goal from fifty, while Cameron Ling has two goals. Steve Johnson continues to impress with his 2nd and 3rd efforts up forward and Darren Milburn is cleaning up across halfback.
In the second quarter, Geelong weathered a spirited comeback by St Kilda in the second quarter to maintain their lead at half time. The quarter began to degenerate into an ugly contest early on as the Saints pushed most of their players inside Geelong's half of the ground, but that soon cleared up into an open, exciting game. Had it not been for three terrible misses from key forwards Fraser Gehrig and Nick Riewoldt, however, it may have been a different story. The Saints kicked three goals to the Cats' one with just two minutes to go, but missed three easy shots towards the end. The Cats rebounded, and Brad Ottens saved the Cats' tails by sharking a goal in a tackling contest in front of goal. But the nightmare wasn't over yet for the Saints; with just 30 seconds to go Cameron 'Moons' Mooney converted a free kick from outside 50, on an angle, to peg the lead back out to 17 points.
Geelong triumphed in an intense third stanza to take a well earned 36 point lead into three quarter time after a five goal to two term. St Kilda battled hard, but their resolve was shaken but not completely smashed by a goal from Gary Ablett in the first minute. Steve Johnson was the common denominator in most forays at goal from Geelong, Jimmy Bartel also playing a key role. The end result: a 36 point lead.
The final quarter was all Geelong, the Cats kicking four goals to the Saints' three behinds.
Inclusions in Captain Tom Harley and valuable midfielder - forward Paul Chapman both took their place in the side, Harley starting on the ground in the backline, Chapman on the interchange along with Mark Blake, Kane Tenace and Nathan Ablett. Cameron Ling was again dangerous up forward, kicking two of Geelong's first three goals. The Cats in fact broke open the game early, kicking the first two goals and to be honest throwing away other chances by blazing away inside fifty.
Steve Johnson shows no signs of dropping off his intensity at the ball, and his second and third efforts. The second goal, to Joel Corey, was a result of two tough tackles laid by Johnson, outnumbered by two St Kilda backmen. Corey laid the third tackle to draw the free kick in front of goal. Johnson's first goal, Geelong's fifth for a one goal lead, was again the result of a holding the ball decision in front of goal.
Moments after Ling kicked his second goal, professional prick, in St Kilda's Steven Baker, felled Geelong's Gary Ablett around 55m from goal, well off the ball. Ablett was awarded a free kick without the ball even being bounced, but unfortunately the Cats were unable to score from the free kick. But the Saints, while looking all right in the midfield, were off their game at either end of the ground, the forwards unorganised and the backmen continually giving away free kicks for holding the ball. (Both ends would soon turnaround their form by the second quarter).
Even the 'Gazelle', Mark Blake, had time to take a running bounce through the centre circle.
Just before quarter time, St Kilda co-captain Nick Riewoldt cut Geelong's 19-point lead back to 13 points with his first goal. But Brad Ottens benefited from a brilliant chain of possessions, starting down back with Darren Milburn and passing through the hands of Gary Ablett, Travis Varcoe, Andrew Mackie and finally Steve Johnson before ending up in his hands just metres from goal, to secure the 19-point lead going into the quarter time break.
The opening goal, ten minutes in, went to Stephen Milne, whose backheel to 'The Athlete' Matt Egan's face was adjudged as a trip. Strangely, the Saints' tactic from here was to flood. Fortunately, the biblical flood cleared up before Mark Thompson had to order in an arc from Calico timbers, and the game was quite exciting, end to end stuff. Geelong's dominance would have been cemented on the scoreboard but Paul Chapman missed two relatively easy shots within a minute. At the other end, St Kilda co-captain Nick Riewoldt kicked truly and Geelong's lead was now just 9 points.
Jimmy Bartel, though, saved the day, when after first being ignored by a goal-minded Johnson, gladly received James Kelly's handball 35m out and off literally quarter of a step, turned and snapped truly at goal. A goal to either side and the lead remained at nine points, until the Cats kicked into gear deep into 'time on'.
Footy can be so cruel. St Kilda forwards Fraser Gehrig and Nick Riewoldt miss three relatively easy shots between them, while up the other end Brad Ottens kicked his second, against the play. And the nightmare wasn't yet over for the Saints, Cameron Mooney kicking a goal from outside thirty seconds later to blow Geelong's half time lead out to 17 points.
GEELONG survived an intense third stanza to take a well earned 36 point lead into three quarter time after a five goal to two term. To their credit, St Kilda battled hard, but their resolve was shaken but not completely smashed by a goal from Gary Ablett in the first minute. Ablett evaded two would-be tacklers before putting on the after burners to get himself just on the fifty-metre arc, before kicking a long goal that brought the house down.
Ablett's goal was followed shortly after by Steve Johnson's second. Johnson gave his opponents curry all night, while not always kicking the goals, put the pressure on and dished out several goal-assists to teammates. The Saints appeared to get their act together, answering the Cats' first three goals with two of their own. But Cameron Mooney took an absolute hanger of a mark over opponent James Gwilt, playing on to kick a devastating goal to stretch the lead out to what was surely an unassailable 29-point lead. If that goal didn't completely shatter the Saints' resolve, then Nathan Ablett, quiet to that point, kicking his first from a snap-shot at goal certainly did. The three quarter time lead was 35 points.
The fourth quarter was a bit of a yawn fest. It took over ten minutes for the first goal of the quarter, to Geelong via Cameron Ling. It took another ten minutes for the next goal, Travis Varcoe kicking his first goal from a converted mark in front of goal. The Saints certainly had a few chances to kick goals but so did the Cats. A comical end to one shot at goal was when Cameron Mooney, taking a kick from 50m out close to the boundary line on the left side, tried to run around his opponent but stubbed his toe and ended up handballing in front of himself.
With five minutes to go, Cam Mooney booted his third goal, marking strongly on a lead just inside fifty. His strong kick took his tally for the day to three goals, one behind and one stubbed toe.
Captain Tom Harley showed cheap-hitter Steven Baker who was boss, landing Baker on his behind after delivering a superb hit and shoulder. Harley gave away a free kick but you can guarantee it was a lot fairer than most of the hits Baker has delivered in his unglittering AFL career so far.
David Wojcinski wrote the exclamation point on the win with his second and Geelong's nineteenth goal of the game, pushing the lead to ten goals with 30 seconds to go.
Jimmy Bartel once more probably edged out his fellow on ballers for best on ground honours. In fact backman Matt Egan would be close to earning votes, along with Corey Enright and Darren Milburn. Corey Enright was terrific and didn't really put a foot wrong all night. Darren Milburn almost didn't put a foot wrong, but you take that from 'Dasher'; he is so creative and plays with an instinctive style.
David Wojcinski goes from strength to strength. His first goal was worth more than the six points, it sent a signal to the Saints players and coaching staff that he was a dangerous player who must be manned up at all costs (ultimately to no avail!). Paul Chapman had a couple unsuccessful tilts at goal and worked well around half-forward. Fellow small forward - midfielder Matthew Stokes was down a tad on last week but still seemed to relish the opportunity to play up the field.
Steve Johnson was the common denominator in most forays at goal from Geelong, Jimmy Bartel also playing a key role. Gary Ablett these days almost goes without mention; he never gave up, still going at it full tilt even deep into time on in the final quarter with the match over. Joel Corey was super on the ball; Geelong fans would be preying he doesn't get injured like in 2004.
Mark Blake and Brad Ottens gave the Cats first use at the ball, and not only that were great during general play. Blake more so for being the link man in the centre, and Ottens up forward.
Cameron Mooney has had a great season, and tonight was no exception. He had quite a battle on his hands and was probably unlucky not to receive a couple extra free kicks, such was the manhandling he drew. Mooney should earn club B&F votes and would be not far off the lead.
Max Rooke, although not seeing as much game-time as last week, was once more mad as the proverbial cut-snake without giving away too many frees, and provided much needed adrenaline across the centre. Matthew Scarlett is coming back into form although was probably shaded by big Fraser tonight, unlucky not to conceded four goals.
The Linginator, Cameron Ling, like many mentioned above continues his excellent year, and now has 14 goals for the season.
It will once more be a difficult task ahead of the final selection meeting this Thursday night. Expect to see an unchanged team, barring injury, or perhaps Kane Tenace to miss out for either Josh Hunt or Joel Selwood. Next Sunday Geelong play, in yet another Fox Sports game, at AAMI Stadium against the Adelaide Crows.
8.3 9.4 15.13 (103) DEFEATED
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