CATS EDGE OUT CREDIBLE BLUES, INTO
AFL NAB CUP FINAL
By Ben Jensen (Back in Aus!) GEELONG is into the AFL NAB Cup Final against Collingwood this Friday night after holding off an impressive second string Carlton side at Etihad Stadium last night. Although clearly in control throughout the match, the Cats nonetheless never completely broke free of the young Blues, who got to within seven points in the final quarter before a Paul Chapman nine point 'super goal' put paid to any thoughts of a Carlton-Collingwood NAB Cup Final.
Polly Farmer would have been proud; the Cats out-handballing their opponents by a narrow margin of one hundred, as they worked patiently to find a loose man further downfield there were often chains of ten to fifteen handballs within a 15 second period before the ball was kicked. Harry Taylor was usually involved, ended up with twenty-nine possessions after having twenty in the first half.
Little-known Cats Jeremy Laidler, Scott Simpson and Simon Hogan played well, Laidler scoring the first half's only super goal and Hogan red hot in midfield. Matthew Scarlett and Tom Hawkins both sat out the second half while Steve Johnson only stepped onto the field after half time and immediately showed he was a class above his opponents.
Geelong led by thirty-points approaching time-one in the third term but the plucky blues refused to lay down, booting the final three goals to cut the deficit to just eleven points. The Carlton crowd, usually back around Northcote and beyond by this stage stuck around to see their side get to within a super-goal of the lead before the Cats ran out victors by seventeen points.
Geelong coach Mark Thompson admitted he would take little out of the match other than seeing the likes of Steve Johnson and Brad Ottens get a run. "It was one of our worst games for a while but it was probably pretty hard to get motivated for it from a player's point of view, from (my) point of view too."
When asked about the quality of the opposition, minus stars Chris Judd and Brendan Fevola, Thompson was philosophical. "We would have liked to have played against them (Judd and Fevola), a stronger team really. But I respect Carlton's decision - I'm not being critical of them at all."
GEELONG 0.3.3 1.4.7 1.7.9 2.9.12 (84)
CROWD: 15,305 at Etihad Stadium (Formerlly known as Telstra Dome, Colonial Stadium, and 'Docklands' by the ABC crew and now the AFL)
UMPIRES: McLaren, Donlon, Jennings
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