GEELONG UNSTOPPABLE IN THE WET Ben Jensen 18 July 2005
GEELONG celebrated Peter Riccardi's 275th game by spanking a disappointing Port Adelaide side to the tune of just under eighty points in front of just under 20,000 supporters at a wet and cold Skilled Stadium. The reining premiers looked anything but, as they struggled to find form at a ground they've struggled at since they entered the AFL in 1997. Jimmy Bartel was the star for the Cats, almost certainly earning three Brownlow votes with his thirty-plus posession game which included an incredible fourteen tackles and three goals.\
In other news, star recruit, ruckman-forward Brad Ottens is rumoured to be out for most if not all of the season and the AFL is again looking seriously at relocating Melbourne based clubs interstate.
For a change there was no injury-related withdrawals prior to the game beginning for the Cats, although the Power's Gavin Wanganeen was replaced by Brett Ebert.
David Johnson, in his return game from a hamstring injury, was hamstrung midway through the second quarter, after taking a run down the Brownlow Stand wing. Johnson will now surely miss at least a month to get his hamstring right; it may take even longer (just ask yours truly).
Conditions for the first half were fine - the ground was dry but the wind was swirling, but favoring the river end of the ground (is it the Reg Hickey Stand end, the 'old' Hickey Stand end, or the Doug Wade stand end??).
Geelong started the quarter with a bang - comeback tall forward Henry Playfair marking a perfect pass and converting for a goal. The Cats' next goal came courtesy of Cameron Ling, who displayed some beautiful roving work on the Gary Ablett Terrace half forward flank.
Josh Hunt, another of Geelong's best for the day, accepted a Darren Milburn handball about 55m from goal on a sixty degree angle, into the wind - of course the ball sailed straight through and easily cleared the pack, thrilling the home crowd who've grown to love the huge man's left foot the past couple seasons. Port Adelaide kicked two goals for the quarter, one of which came form a free kick, the margin nine points at quarter time.
The second quarter was when the Geelong side stamped their superiority over their opponents. Fortunately the rain would hold out until right on half time, allowing the Cats to use their superior skill level to full advantage. Geelong kicked seven goals six behinds, to Port's two goals straight. Kent Kingsley had a couple pings at the target before he started to get his eye in; Jimmy Bartel snagged one as did makeshift forward, the versatile Darren Milburn. But it was Gary Ablett's goal, the result of fantastic desperation by the much improved ruckman Paul Chambers' and Playfair's efforts to keep the ball in - what was dubbed 'the ultimate team goal' the next day.
As eluded to earlier, right on half time the heavens opened up, as they'd threatened to do all day. Even Bracksy, taking his regular seat in Bay 3 of the eastern stand (or is it the 'new' Hickey Stand?) was speechless; he couldn't look into this. It was simply one of those games where all you could do is sit still and enjoy. By the halfway mark of the quarter the training lights were turned on, as it was 'as black as a dog's guts' out there. Geelong controlled the quarter to kick an impressive three goals six behinds, to Port's one goal two.
Matthew Scarlett came into his own this quarter, repelling almost every Power sortie into their forward line. He was ably assisted by Hunt, new boy Matt Egan and Cameron Mooney. Last week Scarlett was quite ill prior to (and during) the match so shouldn't be counted when assessing his form; Scarlett is back to his best.
On ballers were led by Bartel but the likes of Paul Koulouriotis had what was possibly his best ever game for the Cats, against his old club. Cameron Ling was a ball magnet and used his possessions well. James Kelly didn't stand out as much but played a smart game. Joel Corey, similarly to Scarlett, is approaching his best footy after a couple weeks out of the game upset his season.
Cameron Thurley, as usual, had plenty of shots at goal but also set up others. He even hit the post from directly in front and was awarded a goal. Paul Chapman was lively but could have kicked more. Kent Kingsley, who has all but taken over David Mensch, Mitchell White and Ben Graham's tag of the undisputed 'much maligned' player of the side, booted five goals including an intriguing double goal after Port Adelaide's Matthew 'Bronwyn' Bishop told the umpire where to stick his whistle.
In the final term the rain continued to fall as did goals to the 'old' Hickey Stand end - another five to the home side. This included a few to Kingsley, the goal that shouldn't have been to Thurley, and a brilliant goal to Bartel. Darren Milburn gave the crowd what they wanted and kicked a 'barrel' deep into his forward zone, into the arms of Bartel; who amazingly marked the ball on his chest in the middle of a pack of at least ten players. Pretty hard to miss from the goal square; Bartel kicked his third for the day.
The rain cleared up for the final ten minutes of the match; the fans mostly stayed on to cheer their team off at the end; the grateful side acknowledging their fans in all corners of the ground. With the side now approaching full strength and getting back to the situation where players are feeling pressure from good players in the VFL, it bodes well for September action.
Next Saturday Geelong travel to Telstra Dome where their hosts, the Western Bulldogs, will be desperate for a win. But the Cats should be up to the task and further boost their percentage. Geelong hold on to third on the ladder, one game and percentage behind Adeladie.
Brad Ottens, absent the last few games is rumoured to be missing for the rest of the season, however the club maintains he's "1-2 weeks" away.
AFL LOOKING TO RELOCATE ANOTHER MELBOURNE CLUB
MEANWHILE THE AFL have recruited a corporate doctor (don't use the word 'toe cutter' as it may offend) to 'look into' the feasibility of relocating another Melbourne based football club interstate; most likely to Queensland or Sydney but may (and it's a big maybe) to Tasmania, an actual football state. The Cattery believes the AFL is holding a meeting with club officials this week during which the study will be introduced, and the staff will present themselves to the clubs for the first time.
GEELONG: 3.4, 10.10, 13.16, 18.18 (126)
GEELONG'S BEST, JIMMY BARTEL
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