B Jensen May 23 2004

51,400 FANS witnessed another stepping stone in Geelong's coming of age at the Telstra Dome last night, as the Cats celebrated Matthew Scarlett and Tom Harley's 100 game milestone by defeating better fancied Essendon by 23 points. Corey Enright returned to the side in sensational form, replacing forward Charlie Gardiner, who reportedly injured his ankle during a midweek warmup.

Geelong remain in the top eight in seventh position, on five wins and four losses, with a percentage a touch under 105. Geelong are joined by four other Victorian teams. This round Geelong once more kicked over one hundred points, which after struggling to get past 12 goals in past seasons, is becoming almost routine. Geelong has the chance to catch up to Port Adelaide with rare win on the road next week; Port are one game better than the Cats, with six wins and three losses.

The win was set up on the back of an excellent opening quarter, particularly the first eight minutes, with Kent Kingsley booting three goals. Geelong quickly raced to a five goal to one lead, but Kevin Sheedy's Bombers struck back, the lead just four behinds at quarter time after six goals from either side.

Geelong held the lead for just about the entirety of the match, losing the lead momentarily during the third quarter. But a Ben Graham goal snatched back the lead going into the three quarter time break. During the third term Geelong gave away several goals from costly free kicks, the Cats losing their cool, temporarily as it turned out.

In the final term Geelong put the game well and truly beyond doubt. Geelong booted five goals while the Bombers could only manage two. Joel Corey and Peter Riccardi were brilliant, over twenty possessions between them.

Steven King played just the second match in his comeback from injury, dominating the ruck when on the ground. Corey Enright was another welcomed back from injury, at just the right time. Other players who struggled with injury earlier in the season and are now in form include David Wojcinski, Gary Ablett and Peter Riccardi.

Riccardi in particular has mastered the art of being a 'burst' player; playing a small role in the first half, Riccardi's third and forth quarters had as much influence on the game as anyone.

Tom Harley and Matthew Scarlett celebrated their 100 games in style. Scarlett probably drew level with Matthew Lloyd, Lloyd only kicking two goals but missing five others. Harley outshone his opponents all night. Both Harley and Scarlett were superb in taking relieving marks, regularly outshining their Bomber forward opponents.

Geelong clearly dominated the air, taking 35 more marks than Essendon. Best for Geelong were Cameron Mooney with 10, Cameron Ling, Ben Graham (9) and Joel Corey with 8.

Youngsters Andrew Mackie and Kane Tenace were relatively quiet but did contribute to the team, while Jarad Rooke stepped up after earning a recall. Rooke replace the injured Brenton Sanderson after playing the last few games in the VFL.

Josh Hunt received this praise from 'Bobcat' from Cats Claw "What an impact this bloke has had on our team. His magnificent and faultless kicking from defense has been the single most influential factor in our improvement. Some of his work imbounding the ball was superb. I bet Sheedy sheet himself every time they kicked a point, knowing that Hunt was about to blast the ball into the centre with pin point accuracy. His disposal is a real weapon. One of our historical team weaknesses has, at last, become a strength." Hunt's definitely had a huge impact on the backline's ability to transfer the ball back up the field to the forward line. He also has that physical presence, is great at shepherding a protecting his teammates.

A motivational video, compiled entirely of Scarlett and Harley career highlights, was played to the players prior to the match. It was also screened at the pre-match President's 'Lunch'. After watching excerpts screened on the Sunday Footy Show, one can see why the team reacted in such a positive fashion. It's amazing to think these two players are possibly not even halfway into their careers yet, something which can be said about most of the team in fact.

On the 'Panic Stations' engaged by fans as well as the mainstream media after losing the first three games, Mark Thompson had this to say: "People had written us off after Round 2, telling us that we were going to win the wooden spoon and even throw games so we could get priority draft picks. What a load of crap. It's absolute rubbish. The spirit these boys have shown is fantastic – to not give, not concede and to get back and start winning games of footy".

Couldn't agree more. Naturally all fans should have been disappointed with the first two games, especially the heavy defeat to Carlton, but we were at the time without even a single 100-game player. Round 2 was not time for the panic stations to be manned.

Next Sunday Geelong play Port Adelaide at the ground formerly known as Football Park, now known as 'Moron Park'. Fans travelling are being advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel to 'Be alarmed, And alert'.

Pushing for selection are Brenton Sanderson, David Johnson, Charlie Gardner and Steve Johnson. Steven King is expected to travel to Adelaide while David Wojcinski is under an injury cloud.

GEELONG: 6.5, 10.6, 13.10 18.12 (120) DEFEATED
ESSENDON: 6.1, 8.8, 12.11 14.13 (97)

GOALS: GEELONG: Kingsley 7, Chapman 3, Graham 2, Kelly 2, Haynes, Riccardi, Milburn, Ling
ESSENDON: M. Johnson 3, Lovett-Murray 2, Lloyd 2, Cupido, Hille, J. Johnson, Ramanauskas, Solomon, Murphy, McPhee
BEST: GEELONG: Scarlett, Kingsley, Ling, Kelly, Mooney, Chapman, Riccardi, Haynes
ESSENDON: Solomon, M.Johnson, J.Johnson, McPhee, Rioli, Murphy