CATS JUST GET OVER KANGAROOS IN ANOTHER
By Ben Jensen twitter.com/thecattery GEELONG beat North Melbourne by just four points today with the last kick of the day, after looking as though they had lost it. Down by seven goals at one stage, the Cats fought back hard in the third and fourth quarters, hitting the lead some ten minutes into the final term before the Kangaroos snatched it back 18 minutes in thanks to a controversial 50m penalty. But it was a free kick and 50m penalty for the Cats that gave them the win, Jimmy Bartel earning a free with just 25 seconds left on the clock, the 50m penalty making a certainty of it. Allen Christensen and Tom Hawkins shared goal kicking honours for the Cats with three apiece, while for the Roos Lindsay Thomas was a dead-eye-dick with five, Drew Petrie with four.
FIELD: Matt Stevic,
Robert Findlay, Matthew Nichols EM: Jacob Mollison
CROWD: 34,152 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne Docklands
PRE-MATCH TIP: "Cats by 27 points"
The roof was open and the temperature balmy, many in the crowd choosing to wear shorts and t-shirt rather than the regulation three or four layers for the Arctic Docklands stadium. Matthew Stokes started as sub for the Cats, Ben Jacobs for the Kangaroos. North started the match in a positive fashion, as they did in the corresponding fixture last season, Drew Petrie kicking the first goal three minutes into the match. It was then goal for goal, before the Roos kicked three in a row to make it five goals to two. The Kangas finished with seven for the quarter, Tom Hawkins kicking his second after the siren to reduce the margin to 19.
It took nearly 17 minutes before Geelong would score a goal, in the meantime North booted three to really put the Cats under pressure. Allen Christensen copped one high and somewhat stemmed the flow, converting the free kick from 30-odd metres out.
About ten minutes of messy play followed before the bloody Roos once more bagged a couple, the Cats all at sea down back, Thomas bagging his fourth or fifth, Leigh Adams the other. At this point our contingent of five had all but written the game off, Foz commenting we were 'G O R N E' although helpfully noted it was only seven goals, nothing in today's football. Baby Brother decided to turn to drink along with Walker and the man they call Lachlan, down from the Red Centre just for the match.
Fortunately due to the packed seating on level 3 (being a Kangaroos and Cats match, the cash strapped and all) another couple guys didn't make it to our spot, led by one very passionate Kangaroos supporter. Anyway, Christensen marked and goal in the final minute, the margin 29 points at half time. AJ was having none of it though, focusing on the fact the Kangaroos had double our score of goals. To this point skipper Selwood was about our best player, though a bit subdued. The two Coreys, Enright and Joel, spent most of their time down back, Jimmy Bartel again playing less in the middle than in previous years. Hawkins was good up forward although did spray one wide and out of bounds. Paul Chapman was not quite there, getting kicks but not nailing the goal.
The Cats took about five minutes to kick their first goal in the second half but were noticeably fired up, manned up and in general more sleek than the first half. That man Christensen kicked his third courtesy of a perfectly weighted Paul Chapman special, who was clearly in no mood to let this one slip. He helped with another barely 30 seconds later, gifting one to Steven Motlop.
No need to watch the goal umpire for the next one, James Podsiadly's fist pump a millisecond after putting boot to ball all you needed, slotting it home from 40m out after taking a great contested overhead grab off a Joel Corey long bomb. Took another four minutes but the Cats' fifth in a row by an unlikely marking target in Tom Lonergan, who received a free kick after being shepherded out; the margin back to within a couple goals.
Stokes replaced Mitch Brown during the term and made an immediate impact, though the Roos then dominated the middle part of the quarter, booting three in a row of their own, reviving the faithful around us and all over the ground. Thomas with two of them, Lachlan Hansen the other. Thomas has clearly done some great work on his kicking, having a couple bad runs in 2011 and 2012. After today's performance I'd easily have him down at Kardinia Park.
Stokes played a hand in the last two goals of the quarter, in a run of three. He first spotted up Hawkins for his third, then Mitch Duncan, Duncan's goal from fifty being the more impressive. Seven goals to three the Cats' way that quarter, the margin at the final break just eleven points. The place was absolutely abuzz at this point in anticipation of the final quarter
The crowd weren't disappointed, the game played at a frenetic pace from the start. The Kangaroos broke the goal duck, Thomas' fifth coming three and a half minutes in, his ninth of the season, to give the Roos some breathing space. But it was to be very short-lived, Geelong having the next six scoring shots. First Chapman received a pretty dicey free kick, before the Cats kicked three behinds in a row to get the fans a bit frustrated.
Joel Caddy put the Cats in front, his first goal for the club since moving from Gold Coast in the off season. Caddy, resembling Nathan Ablett from afar, played up forward and in the middle, having a good all round game. Billie Smedts missed one he might have kicked, at the time it seemed the Cats would go on with it.
But the Roos kept in it, as the rain started falling down through the open roof. Took six minutes for another scoring shot, Daniel Wells slipped over in the middle which spurred Mitch Duncan to race in and tackle him, giving away a 50m penalty to a chorus of boos. Wells coolly slotted it home some 45m out as the rain fell down, Roos by four points. Thereafter followed three behinds by the Cats, one by the Roos - each of them gettable.
But it was the man who seconds earlier Matthew Scarlett on K-Rock predicted would do something - Jimmy Bartel, earned a free kick in a marking contest and was immediately awarded a 50m penalty, making a goal a certainty. Harry Taylor gave Bartel some instructions as he marched goalward, who knows what; 25 seconds remaining on the clock with the Cats four points ahead.
And so it was. Kangaroos supporters can go home profoundly disappointed as Hawks supporters would have last week. The Cats were just too determined in the end - and would have been disappointed themselves and likely blaming the 50m penalty for the loss. Roos coach Brad Scott appeared to blame the open roof as Bartel slammed home the winning goal but later said it wasn't a factor - though brother Chris later said it should have been shut.
Matthew Stokes would just about get Brownlow votes with his performance in less than a half of football, certainly he'll get club B&F votes. Andrew Mackie, who copped a couple heavy knocks, made a brilliant save of a certain goal early in the second term by Petrie, his desperate lunge perhaps spurring teammates back into action. You couldn't go wrong in declaring Selwood BOG, though Christensen might nudge him out in the Carji medal. In their first games back Joel Corey and James Kelly were good, Kelly probably the better of the two. Down back Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan had a rough time of it but in the end got the job done, blanketing their opponents in the second half.
Trent West, who did well just to play the last two weeks did all right, Mark Blicavs more impressive in our book. Though Blicavs should have either kicked the winning goal himself or better yet passed the ball off, going back for a set shot with barely a minute to go and missing to the right.
Next Saturday night the Cats host winless Carlton back at Etihad, expect a decent crowd for that one. Steve Johnson is a chance to return, while Jared Rivers and George Horlin-Smith have to also be possibilities to return.