CATS WIN UGLY OVER SYDNEY; HOLD ON TO FIFTH SPOT
GEELONG defeated the Sydney Swans by fifteen points at Skilled Stadium today in an at times scrappy, but hard and fairly fought and ultimately entertaining contest. The win gives Geelong 'outright' fifth spot for the time being, while Sydney stay in seventh spot. The top four teams all won, so Geelong remains two games outside the top four, and in all likelihood will not get a double chance, but will surely play in September. LINK: AFL LADDER
Sydney certainly do play negative football, regularly flooding their entire team inside Geelong's half of the ground. If the AFL wants to win over Sydney people to the game, they may want to encourage their side to play a more entertaining 'brand' of football.
For the third time in three weeks, the win did come at a cost: this time Peter Riccardi, who pulled a hamstring in the first half. Prior to the game, Cameron Mooney withdrew, citing a groin strain, replaced in the side by Paul Chambers. Chambers may not have racked up many stats but his effort was commendable, particularly in the fourth quarter when the game was up for grabs. Chambers contested the centre-bounces while King floated up forward, only to run down and take the 'secondary' bounces, with Chambers lurking half a kick towards the backline.
The game started out with the Swans booting three behinds before the Cats could register a score. In what was to become a trend for the rest of the match, Sydney dominated early only for Geelong to draw level and edge in front by the end of the term. The Cats kicked three goals one behind to Sydney's wasteful one goal six behinds. Barry Hall could only manage two behinds, after being initially matched with Tom Harley. Matthew Scarlett soon took over, Harley moving to the dangerous Michael O'Loughlin.
Adam Goodes suffered what some quick-thinking commentators thought was a potential season ending knee injury. But a short time afterwards Brownlow-medallist Goodes returned to the field, although never approached his best form.
Geelong had a shocker in the second quarter, not managing a goal but kicking seven behinds with the wind. The Swans, kicking to the supposedly non-scoring end, reversed their first quarter by booting an economical two goals one behind. Barry Hall kicked what would be his one and only goal. The Cats took a one point lead into the half time break, a lead barely acknowledged by fans.
Sydney started the third quarter by dominating the play, booting three goals, all of which came to the versatile Ryan O'Keefe. But the Cats would claw back; the enigmatic Steve Johnson booting two great goals, and Gary Ablett, who had a quiet day, kicking an even more impressive goal. Geelong took a handy seven point lead to the three quarter time break.
Ryan O'Keefe booted his fifth goal in the last quarter, to bring the Swans to within one goal. The Swans' best, Jude Bolton, gave them the lead soon after.
Shannon Byrnes made his much-awaited debut . The third member of the so called 'Shepp Mafia', Byrnes joins captain Steven King and Kane Tenace as fellow Shepparton recruits at the club. Byrnes kicked a great goal from just outside 50m in the last quarter to put the Cats back in front.
Big Swan, former West Coast Eagle Jason Ball, was the unlikely one to snatch back the lead for Sydney, with an impressive rove and snap. But that was where the Sydney hopes would end; the ball, and most of their players, not spending too much time in their half for the rest of the match. David Johnson, recalled to the side after injury, converted a free kick directly in front of goal to bring about the final lead change for the match. Geelong certainly had a good run with free kicks all day, although in the second quarter fans did get a little restless.
The match-sealer was kicked by Paul Chapman, who roved a bouncing ball, cleverly let go by a leading Kent Kingsley, heading in the opposite direction. Kingsley would kick his second goal after the siren courtesy of his second free kick, to make the final margin fifteen points.
Stats may not reveal it, but forward Charlie Gardiner was once more one of Geelong's best. Brenton Sanderson was always there to clear in the backline, as was Matthew Scarlett. James Bartel was good in patches, especially when it counted at the end. Ben Graham contested well all day, but tailed off after his two-goal opening quarter.
Best afield was without doubt Cameron Ling. Ling found himself facing off against Swans tagger Brett Kirk, who did basically nothing, and amassed twenty-six possessions. His eclipsing of fellow tagger Kirk should hold Ling in good stead for All Australian selection.
Next week Geelong face a resurgent Carlton at Telstra Dome. The Blues defeated the Kangaroos at Optus Oval yesterday, and are becoming more confident. However most of their wins seem to come the week after being thrashed. Geelong has only lost the one match at Telstra Dome all season, and indeed no 'home' games at all. The game is an 'all ticketed' affair, meaning you must have a reserved seat. There is no general entry.
Corey Enright was best afield in Geelong's narrow loss to Tasmania in the VFL on Saturday (results below)- David Haynes booting three goals. Enright, David Spriggs and Paul Koulouriotis would be favorites to replace the injured Peter Riccardi. Haynes is a chance to come into the side to replace Andrew Mackie, who is due for a spell. Kane Tenance may also be considered again.
GEELONG 3.1 3.8 7.9 11.11 (77) (LORRRD NELSON)
VFL ROUND 15: TASMANIA DEFEAT GEELONG
TASMANIA 2.0 5.2 6.8 11.10 (76) DEFEAT
VFL ROUND 16: GEELONG V NORTH BALLARAT
WHAT ABOUT ME? SHANNON BYRNES CELEBRATES HIS FIRST GOAL IN HIS FIRST GAME
CHARLIE GARDINER WAS ONE OF GEELONG'S BEST
MATTHEW SCARLETT SMOTHERS A BARRY HALL KICK