CATS' STRONG FINISH TOO GOOD FOR ST KILDA
GEELONG stormed home in the final quarter to defeat a gallant St Kilda by three goals at the Telstra Dome on Saturday, in front of 44,800 people. Despite trailing by as much as twenty-six points in the third quarter, the Cats pegged St Kilda's lead back to just over two goals at three quarter time, before launching their assault in the last quarter, at one stage kicking eight goals straight.
Geelong bypassed St Kilda and now sits in third spot, with five wins and two losses. Next week Geelong faces Carlton at Telstra Dome.
Before the first bounce both teams lost important forwards in Steve Johnson and Aaron Hamill. The injury toll was to get worse for the Saints; both Aussie Jones and Robert Harvey would be watching the second half in their tracksuit after injuring a calf and hamstring respectively.
Geelong stormed to a three goal to nil lead early in the match before the Saints hit back. Returning Captain Nick Riewoldt showed no signs of soreness nor fear as he threw himself into and above packs as has been his want since he burst onto the AFL scene in 2001. To their credit, Geelong's defenders made no special effort to 'test out' Riewoldt's collarbone.
Darren Milburn was the pick of the Geelong players. Milburn kicked three goals straight, each coming at a crucial moment in the game. Milburn must be doing well in the club best and fairest.
In the second quarter St Kilda increased their quarter time lead by two goals. Geelong had just as many scoring shots but could not convert. Interestingly, the maligned forward Kent Kingsley did not miss a shot at goal all day.
St Kilda threatened to take the game from Geelong's grasp midway through the third quarter, but Geelong kicked the final two games of the term to be within striking distance. By this stage, St Kilda big man Justin Koschtizke became the third St Kilda player to be forced from the field. Debutante Cameron Thurley kicked his first career goal from his second kick, a moderately difficult shot from forty metres out.
Riewoldt continued to take big grabs, but could rarely convert, often not making the distance. Twenty year old Luke Ball was everywhere, and finished with over thirty possessions. But he had little support; himself, Nick Dal Santo and Xavier Clarke doing most of the work.
Geelong kicked the first six goals of the final quarter, inspired by the continued efforts of Darren Milburn, and improvement by Cameron Ling, Shannon Byrnes, Matthew Scarlett and Gary Ablett. Thurley kicked his second goal of the match, a tidy return.
Byrnes, or 'Wee Burn' as he is becoming known, was too quick for direct opponent Andrew Thompson. Indeed the only time Thompson appeared in the same frame as Byrnes was when both wingmen lined up for a centre bounce.
Kent Kingsley played clever football, executing an absolute perfect knock on to Henry Playfair that gave the Cats the lead for the first time since the first quarter. But the Cats' avalanche of goals was just beginning. Gary Ablett's goal was the sealer; a trademark goal where he poached the ball, shoved off one opponent and evaded another two at close range, before calmly dribbling the ball through goal from twelve metres out. And doesn't little Gary know how to celebrate?
St Kilda would kick two consolation goals, including one to the fiery Steven Baker after the final siren. The final winning margin was exactly three goals.
Forwards Henry Playfair and Charlie Gardiner had fairly quiet afternoons while Brad Ottens continued to repay the faith Geelong showed by acquiring his services pre-season. Matthew Scarlett's effort in the final quarter swung the game. Scarlett regularly shrugged off more than one opponent in desperation to clear the ball from the defensive zone, and deliver to an unmarked teammate downfield.
Some thought Captain Steven King was underdone and shouldn't be on the field; but in the second half and final quarter especially King's coolness in the centre of the ground was pivotal in switching play from one wing to the other.
The two Coreys; Joel and Enright, have been the core of Geelong's midfield the past month. Hats off to Geelong and the boys for sticking with the Cats despite temptation to move back 'home'. The James'; Kelly and Bartel (or should that be "Jimmy?") probably didn't have their best games but certainly didn't disgrace.
The contributions by David Johnson and Peter Riccardi shouldn't be discounted, either.
This Friday night Geelong faces the deflated Carlton at Telstra Dome. Although coming off an absolute hiding at the hands of the unlikely Richmond Tigers, Geelong coach Mark Thompson has warned of complacency. Thompson even suggest the result against St Kilda would've been different had the Saints not have suffered their injuries.
Steve Johnson should resume his place in the side while the angry bald man in Paul Chapman will miss at least one match. Chapman appeared to roll his ankle in the third quarter; his tenacity and football smarts will be missed.
GEELONG: 4.1, 7.5, 11.8, 18.11 (119) DEFEATED
GOALS Geelong: Kingsley 4, Milburn 3, Ottens 2,
Thurley 2, Chapman, Ling, Enright, Bartel, Playfair, Ablett, Kelly
MEANWHILE Geelong's VFL team continued their shocking start to the season, this week going down to Frankston of all teams. VFL NEWS