TO WIZARD FINAL
B Jensen March 6 2004
THE CATS head into their first grand final in eight years next Saturday night, after winning a thriller over Melbourne in front of 18,357 at Telstra Dome last night. Geelong, down by five points with just a few minutes remaining, leaped to one point lead courtesy of Kent Kingsley's forth goal. First gamer Kane Tenace combined beautifully with Veteran Peter Riccardi to hit Kingsley on the chest a touch over forty-five metres from goal on a forty-five degree angle.
Melbourne had earlier snatched back the lead after Captain David Neitz received a charitable down the ground free kick. The free, although only twenty metres from goal, was deemed to be worth nine points. The new rules did work in Geelong's favour though, the Cats scoring two 'super goals' themselves from Ben Graham and David Haynes, and also three rushed behinds in the first term.
After a scrappy and low skill first half, the game could quite possibly have been lost in the third term, the Cats losing their thirteen point lead, Melbourne booting three goals in a row to take the lead. But the Dees missed three relatively easy goals, including one nine pointer courtesy of a Darren Milburn 50m penalty. A total of eighteen points missed, resulting in a narrow two point lead to the Dees at three quarter time.
The win did come at a cost, David Loats injuring his knee early, and will miss at least the next six weeks. Loats underwent arthroscopic surgery this afternoon, having some cartilage removed. The latest injury blow to Loats has shattered his dream of being the starting ruckman for an AFL club, albeit temporarily. It was not the news Geelong wanted to hear, already losing skipper and number one ruckman Stephen King for the first third of the season.
On baller James Bartel, one of Geelong's best, was reported for an attempt to trip Melbourne's James McDonald. Other top performers for Geelong were Joel Corey, Cameron "Moooooooons" Mooney, Kingsley (four goals, including three in the final quarter), Darren Milburn and Tom Harley. Debutante Kane Tenace put in a fine cameo performance.
For Melbourne Aaron Davey proved to be an excitement machine, booting two goals and at one stage running down a surprised Geelong skipper Brenton Sanderson.
Geelong will play the winner of tonight's clash between Essendon and St Kilda. The Cats have played reasonably well but may not be quite in the class of these two teams, who have had the tougher match ups so far.
Jarad Rooke, who did not play last night, may come into the team as an uneven exchange for David Loats. With Henry Playfair coping well in the ruck assisting Paul Chambers, Rooke would give the Cats some extra muscle in the backline. Also a chance for a recall is
The AFL and Japanese car maker Toyota still have not given way to Geelong and Ford's demands that they be given a fair and reasonable hearing over the signage at Skilled Stadium. Geelong has offered to purchase the signage from Toyota and give them additional exposure at Geelong's presidential lunch, and additional signage at Telstra Dome.
Geelong and Ford's relationship, spanning nearly eighty years, is in danger of being watered down if not destroyed by the AFL's three year deal with Toyota. Angry fans can let the AFL know their concerns by contacting the CEO on firstname.lastname@example.org, according to 'Ohwhatafeeling' on Cats Claw.
GEELONG:0.2.7, 1.3.10, 2.4.11, 2.8.11 (77).
WIZARD HOME LOANS CUP FINAL:
Ben Graham flies for a mark in last night's thriller at Telstra Dome