CATS MAULED BY HAWKS; KING PULLS A HAMMY
By Ben Jensen GEELONG was easily beaten by a determined Hawthorn side at Skilled Stadium on Saturday, in front of a disappointed crowd of around 24,000 fans. The Cats lost by a whopping fifty-two points, managing only six goals while the Hawks kicked fifteen goals, including nine in the final quarter into the wind. To add injury to the insult, Geelong captain Steven King took tore his hamstring in the first quarter, missing the rest of the game and likely the next month at least.
The Cats had more of the ball than the Hawks in the first quarter, but not the lead; Geelong kicked four goals ten behinds up to half time, the Hawks six goals five behinds. There were worrying signs early, with Geelong struggling to find an avenue down the ground, continually kicking to a contest, while the Hawks ran the ball up the ground with ease and little opposition. The Hawks also broke the Cats' tackles with little resistance.
Skills also let the Cats down. Dropped chest marks when free were the order of the day. Next on the list was poor hand-passing, particularly when under the slightest pressure. And finally kicking, both field and goal, were atrocious.
In the second half it appeared as though the Cats were about to stop the rot. Kicking the first goal to bring the Hawks' lead back to just one point, Geelong were seemingly about to put the foot down and burn off the more inexperienced opposition. But it wasn't to be; Jimmy Bartel's opening goal would be the Cats' only goal of the quarter, to the Hawks' three.
The deficit at three quarter time was twenty-one points - not an impossible task, but considering Geelong would need to kick five goals to take the lead, as many as they'd kicked all day, it may as well have been. Hawthorn would kick the opening six goals, to make nine unanswered goals since the third quarter, giving those few fans lucky enough to get in a story to tell come Tuesday.
For all Geelong's downfalls, Hawthorn did play a very good game, and certainly deserved to win. Luke Hodge was easily best on ground. The former Geelong Falcon played nearly a perfect game, starting on a half back flank, but continually running down the ground to do damage up forward. If it wasn't for the fact that he was flaying our team in the final quarter, most Geelong fans would have got some pleasure watching the way he controlled the tempo of the game.
Geelong's stars last week - Kent Kingsley, Gary Ablett, Corey Enright and Kane Tenace were very quiet, with forwards Ablett, Kingsley and Mackie not even kicking a single goal between them. Errant but enigmatic forward Steve Johnson frustrated everybody at the ground with two goals, one coming in 'junk time' and four behinds. Young Hawthorn defender Zac Dawson put last week's mauling by Collingwood's Anthony Rocca behind him; Dawson faced up against Kingsley for most of the match, and kept him goal-less.
David Johnson was reported for striking Hawthorn's Trent Croad by umpire Kieran Nicholls late in the fourth quarter. Croad, who played as a forward all day, ran in to remonstrate with Johnson and Jarad Rooke, who had felled Luke Hodge. Johnson's report, quiet rightfully, was thrown out, as he had merely pushed Croad, not struck as the report suggested. There were no other reports from the match.
Saturday's loss was Geelong's first all year, after winning all four NAB Cup games plus the first two rounds, perhaps we were due for a loss? Maybe, but not in this fashion.
Geelong faces the in form and undefeated Western Bulldogs in round four of the AFL premiership season next Saturday - a match the Cats now enter as firm underdogs, without leaders in King, suspended full back Matthew Scarlett and key defender Tom Harley. Countering the loss of the three big men, the Bulldogs themselves are struggling, with number one (behind already injured Luke Darcy) ruckman Will Minson out along with Adam Morgan to miss.
Defender Matt Egan may miss with a sore shoulder while on the flip side, David Wojcinski is a certainly to return from last season's knee reconstruction, after three solid games in the VFL. As detailed below, the VFL team had a good come from behind win, with Wojcinski and Tom Lonergan showing form, along with youngster Brent Prismall.
HAWTHORN 4.1 (25) 6.5 (41) 9.8 (62)
15.11 (101) DEFEATED
The Bendigo Bank Cats overcame a three goal deficit at three quarter time to win by ten points, over Richmond affiliate Coburg as a curtain raiser to the AFL game. Tom Lonergan continued his good form with five goals, and is a good chance to come into the AFL side to replace captain Steven King.
Next Sunday the Cats play in a traditional Sunday game, against winless and newly-standalone club, Port Melbourne, at their TEAC Oval.
GEELONG 2.3 5.8 7.9 14.11 (95)