GEELONG HOLD ON OVER ROOS; CEMENT PLACE IN TOP EIGHT
GEELONG weathered the storm that was the Kangaroos in front of 21,700 at Skilled Stadium, victorious by 10 points in Peter Riccardi's 250th game. Geelong remain in 6th spot, on 7 wins, 5 losses. It was a genuine 8 point game; prior to the game the Roos were 4 points behind the Cats and in 9th spot, they're now still in 9th spot but a further game behind the Cats.
David Haynes was replaced in the side by Andrew Mackie, who duly booted three opening goals in the first quarter, bringing Geelong back into the game. The Kangaroos threatened to break the spirit of the hometown crowd and the team, with the first four goals of the game in a flurry that lasted barely ten minutes. Cameron Ling, who drilled a long goal from outside fifty to put the Cats in front for the first time, and Paul Chapman, who regained the lead, were the other Geelong goalkickers for the first quarter.
The Cats ran out to an eighteen point lead with ten minutes left in the first half, but the Kangaroos kicked the next three goals, drawing to within three behinds at the main break. The second quarter saw goals to Gary Ablett, Brent Moloney and Kent Kingsley. Gary Ablett, in typical fashion, made something out of nothing, snapping from inside a pack of players to bounce it straight through the middle. Brent Moloney marked just outside fifty, only to casually lob the ball through for a goal, into a howling wind at the City end. Kingsley booted two goals from set shots but would miss two other relatively easy chances.
Andrew Mackie received a heavy knock from serial pest, Kangaroo David King, after Ben Graham lobbed the ball up in front of goal. With nowhere to go, Mackie attempted the mark only to be collected by King. Mackie took no further part in the match, with 'badly bruised ribs'.
Kangaroos strongman Glenn Archer belted Geelong forward Kent Kingsley several times at the ten minute mark of the second quarter. This followed his hits on Cameron Mooney in the first term. It is the first incident that is likely to attract video scrutiny; it was all to no avail, Archer having very little impact on the game, having lost most of his physical prowess.
Best players for Geelong in the first half were the usual suspects in Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Ling, Gary Ablett, Cameron Mooney and David Wojcinski. James Bartel, who only recently regained his position in the side, was the top player for the half.
The Kangaroos kicked the opening goal of the second half to snatch the lead, courtesy of a generous fifty metre penalty. The lead very nearly crept up another six points when Paul Chapman, who gave away the penalty, continued to argue, giving a free kick before the ball was bounced in the centre to restart play. But the Roos would not kick another goal that quarter, Geelong booting another three for the quarter. Each goal was a genuine cracker. David Wojcinski, who up until that point had played a great game, bar one shocking clanger, taking a big grab (right). He snapped on his left boot to snatch back the lead.
Josh Hunt goaled from outside fifty from a set shot, while Ben Graham kicked a 'ball burster' from about 65m out. Both easily cleared the pack waiting in front of goal and set the crowd alight. James Bartel took another great mark, to go with his screamer last week against the Bulldogs.
Geelong's two goals of the final term thanks to that man Gary Ablett. The first came as Ablett lead to about forty metres from goal. Kicking into a swirling wind, with rain just minutes away, Ablett kicked the goal to put the Cats 21 points ahead. The Kangaroos quickly answered back. Ablett's second goal game from another skillful mark, but this time he had to kick from right on fifty, again into a terrible wind. But Ablett answered this challenge, celebrating the goal by twirling both hands above his head before clapping with his first. It was to be Geelong's final goal for the match.
Kangaroos continued to pepper the goals but Matthew Scarlett, Tom Harley, Corey Enright, Wojcinski, Hunt and Brenton Sanderson repelled each sortie. Hunt's long and accurate kicks are a pleasure to watch, what the 'back six' missed the past few seasons. Geelong was to hold on for a well earned ten point victory. The Cats rewarded Peter Riccardi's 250 games by chairing him off the ground. It was to be the first 'milestone' match of Riccardi's where the Cats actually won, having lost his 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th games.
Cameron Mooney and Henry Playfair played well in various positions, Mooney taking the majority of the ruck. David Loats, playing his first AFL match for Geelong, started the game but soon found himself rotated out of the attack, but did spend more time on the field later in the match.
Best afield was certainly Matthew Scarlett, without whom Geelong certainly would not have all of their seven wins this season. James Bartel has relished his second coming in the AFL, having now realised he has to perform when at the highest level. Gary Ablett, although not as prolific with the ball this week, was there when the team needed him.
Andrew Mackie may have gone on to do more damage but didn't get the opportunity. Cameron Ling continues to show that you don't have to be the best performed in the draft camp and have blonde hair to be an accomplished on baller. Ling leads almost all stats at Geelong, besides the goalkicking. And he's great in front of goal when he gets the chance.
Corey Enright was a very welcome inclusion into the side. Charlie Gardiner and Cameron Mooney were both effective across centre-wing and up forward. There wasn't many Geelong players who didn't genuinely contribute. Peter Riccardi was relatively quiet (by his standards), and suffered a 'stinger' to his shoulder in the forth quarter. Steven King was definitely missed, and may come back into the side next week.
Geelong retains their 100% home record in season 2004, in fact they have only lost two games in Victoria; in Rounds 1 and 2 to St Kilda and Carlton at Telstra Dome and Optus Oval. The win yesterday was amazingly Geelong's first at Skilled Stadium over the Kangaroos since 1994. Next week Geelong face the Brisbane Lions, a team Geelong has not only not defeated at Geelong, but has never defeated the Lions in their merged history. Time to break history again.
Geelong coach Mark Thompson witnessed Brisbane's eleven goal whitewash of contenders/pretenders Essendon Saturday night: "I wish I hadn't gone. I went thinking let's look for a couple of things to do against Brisbane but the cupboard was pretty empty when I saw what they could do. They played terrific footy but the thing is, it's another week, and if they are not up on their game when they play Geelong we will be a chance to beat them. We have got to play our best footy certainly next week."
GEELONG: 5.1 9.5 12.8 14.10 (94) DEFEATED
GOALS: GEELONG: Mackie, Ablett 3, Kingsley 2, Graham, Moloney,
Chapman, Wojcinski, Hunt, Ling 1
VFL: PORT MELBOURNE TOO GOOD FOR GEELONG
GEELONG 3.1 4.2 5.3 7.7 (49) DEFEATED BY
GOALS: GEELONG: Spriggs 2, Thurley 2, Rahilly 2, Thurley.
PETER RICCARDI, DESERVEDLY CHAIRED OFF AFTER 250 GREAT GAMES (CLICK FOR FULL SIZE)
GARY ABLETT CELEBRATES HIS MATCH SEALING GOAL
THIS GARY ABLETT MARK WOULD SAVE THE GAME
DAVID WOJCINSKI AND HIS CONTENDER FOR MARK OF THE WEEK (CLICK FOR FULL SIZE)
CAMERON LING'S DESPERATION WAS TYPICAL OF THE MATCH (CLICK FOR FULL SIZE)