CATS WIN AFL NAB CUP
By Ben Jensen AFL NAB CUP GRAND FINAL GEELONG brushed aside Collingwood by a lazy seventy-six points to win their second AFL NAB Cup in four years in front of 37,277 at Etihad Stadium last night. 20 year old Joel Selwood won the Michael Tuck award for best afield, edging out Gary Ablett. The win will likely come at great cost however with nuggety defender Josh Hunt suffering what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury.
Although the majority of the crowd who were very much pro-Collingwood may not have appreciated it, the manner in which the Cats snuffed out the Wobblers was a pleasure to watch for the football purest. Although scores were level at quarter time, Geelong led by forty points at halftime and should have been in front by more after kicking six goals five to Collingwood's solitary behind. Geelong further outscored the Magpies four goals to two and five goals to two in the final two quarters in what often resembled a lanework drill for the Cats.
GEELONG 0.3.5 0.9.10 0.13.15 0.18.19 (127)
CROWD: 37,277 at Etihad Stadium
UMPIRES: McLaren, Donlon, Jeffrey
While the Cats dominated the opening ten minutes, with only one goal from Tom Lonergan they failed to capitalise and saw the Magpies go ahead after twelve minutes with their second goal to Shane O'Bree. Chris Bryan's super goal, courtesy of a fifty metre penalty, extended their lead over the Cats to ten points. However Joel Selwood put his side back to within one point with his first goal at the twenty minute mark. The Cats should have kicked another couple but only managed a solitary behind, but that did lock the scores level at twenty-three points apiece.
Steve Johnson spent most of the first term on the bench and kicked his first goal three minutes into the second quarter. This was followed the next minute by a goal from Paul Chapman, and in the five minutes after that Travis Varcoe, Selwood, Johnson again and finally Ablett who kicked the final goal of the first half twelve minutes in.
The misery would only get worse for the Magpies in the second half, the Cats going a further two goals ahead courtesy of Chapman and Lonergan. Celebrity forward Dale Thomas finally scored his side's first goal since the seventeen minute mark of the first quarter. Ryan Gamble kicked his only goal of the match a short time later, with Dane Swan and Matthew Stokes also scoring majors.
Gary Ablett twice set the crowd including this correspondent alight in the final term, adding icing on the cake with two signature goals from tight angles on the boundary line. Kane Tenace kicked his only goal of the game, Johnson added his third and Jimmy Bartel kicked a goal after the siren to stretch the final winning margin out to seventy-six points.
Johnson and Ablett were the night's leading goalkickers with three each, while Selwood and Lonergan had two apiece. For the Wobblers, Dale Thomas was the only multiple goalkicker with two in the second half and Bryan kicked the only supergoal of the night.
Hawkins may have blown his chance for his immediate AFL future after missing at least three set shots at goal after Lonergan slotted home two from as many shots. Ryan Gamble likewise missed a few he might have kicked but was overall a better player, meaning the Cats forward line in round one is likely to feature Cameron Mooney and Lonergan as the big talls with Johnson, Chapman and Matthew Stokes also assured berths.
Lonergan showed his versatility by playing some of the second half down back while Harry Taylor was excellent in a key defender role, although Travis Cloke did lose him outside the fifty metre arc but was noticeably unable to take any shots at goal, unlike previous seasons against Geelong when goals from 55m plus were a feature of his game.
Hunt, who returned for the presentation on crutches, will be lucky to play again this season after his left knee buckled during a seemingly innocuous hip and shoulder clash with Collingwood's Paul Medhurst. Hunt immediately went down and signaled for the trainers and was stretchered off the ground straight up the race. Hunt is due to undergo a full assessment today and will be fearing the worst, certainly not the birthday the 27 year old would have been hoping for should the injury be confirmed as a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.