GEELONG MAKE THEMSELVES AT HOME,
LEAPFROG PORT ADELAIDE TO SECOND SPOT
By Ben Jensen, AFL ROUND 9 2007 THE CATS STUNNED the Power tonight at AAMI Stadium, in a game reminiscent of the record breaking destroyation over Richmond at Telstra Dome four weeks ago. Geelong led by 71 points at half time, and ended up winners by 54 points. After a five goal to one opening term the Cats led by twenty-five points but missed several easy goals so could have been in front by more. Geelong dominated Port Adelaide in the first quarter and with an eight goals to one second term, blew any chance Port had of coming back to the proverbial 'shizenhousen'. A pedestrian second half played mostly in light drizzle saw the lead pegged back to fifty-six points
The Cats now leapfrog past Port Adelaide into second position on the AFL ladder, behind only the West Coast Eagles. Port Adelaide were shunted back down their ladder from second to seventh position, their percentage plummeting from 114 to 105, although equal with Geelong and six other teams on six wins in Adelaide, Hawthorn, Collingwood and the Kangaroos.
Geelong coach Mark 'Bomber' Thompson was rapt with the win, his team's sixth from the first nine games, and again had a backhander for the media who continue to bring up Geelong's forty+ year premiership drought. The fireworks for a premiership aren't being ordered just yet, Bomber's taking it 'one week at a time'.
GEELONG 5.4 (34) 13.9 (87) 14.15
(99) 16.20 (116) DEFEATED
The Cats set the tone of the match from the opening minute. Josh Hunt showed his worth by crunching into Daniel Motlop's side with a bone crunching hip and shoulder that saw the livewire forward immediately leave the field. His opponent, the Geelong backline's newest edition in Andrew Mackie, soon found himself on a new opponent in Damon White.
Geelong opened the scoring with a goal to Max Rooke. Rooke, in doubt for this match, ended up being the surprise packet up forward, kicking two goals in the opening term. Although Port Adelaide answered back in emphatic fashion from Dominic Cassisi, it was to be their one and only goal of the quarter.
Travis Varcoe got himself on the scoreboard early with his first goal, and continued his good work so far this season,his defensive skills like that of Aaron Davie at Melbourne. Defenders fumble and stumble with the pressure he applies.
Nathan Ablett kicked his first and Geelong's fourth goal after taking a strong contested mark 30m out directly in front of goal. From this point on the Cats were relatively wasteful, Travis Varcoe (x2), Matthew Stokes, Gary Ablett and Steve Johnson each missing shots at goal.
In the first quarter Geelong was quite strong all over the ground, particularly on the ball through Brad Ottens, Joel Corey and Jimmy Bartel. David 'Bomba' Wojcinski was hot across the middle, delivering the ball inside 50 and kicked one goal himself. From the outset Matthew Scarlett started well and showed signs he was going to have a good day, defending his man and rebounding from the backline. The quarter time lead was twenty-five points.
The second quarter had most of the hallmarks of a training run. Geelong blew away any chance of a Port Adelaide resurgence in the first three minutes. Matthew Stokes was first to pounce, making amends for his earlier miss and celebrating indigenous round with a goal from a free kick. Stokes appeared to relish the chance given to him to start on the ball, rather than play the small forward role he's been accustomed to in his brief AFL career thus far.
Cameron Ling kept up his goalkicking record, creating a mismatch by leading his tagging target, Peter Burgoyne, to the Geelong forward line. Ling's forward nous were too good for Burgoyne, putting in a near 360-degree turn and finishing off with a trademark right-foot snap and celebration.
Cameron Mooney was next to open his account, one of ten to do so by half time. Mooney had moments earlier sent a shudder through the Geelong coaching box (and plenty of cheers from the Bronx crowd) after pulling up sore, and appearing to injure his ankle. Immediately after kicking the goal Mooney ran off, seeking minor attention to the ankle and his knee.
After minutes of end to end football with no scoring, Steve Johnson produced some trademark white lightning to kick his first goal of the evening, putting the lead at 43 points. The Cats should really have extended the lead to beyond fifty points soon after but kicked three consecutive behinds through Andrew Mackie, Jimmy Bartel and Stokes. Importantly, the rock-solid defence led by Scarlett, athletic Matthew Egan and the utility Darren Milburn were not in the mood for conceding any scores whatsoever.
Across the centre, the timber merchant in Joel Selwood played a hand in most of the late-quarter goals. His poise and workrate have been a key factor in the Cats' five wins (and this, the sixth win) so far this season.
Jimmy Bartel did his chances in the Brownlow Medal no harm at all, kicking two goals inside a minute, both brilliantly roved kicks from outside the 50m arc. His second came just as the heavens opened up. Of course, being a wet track specialist this didn't bother Bartel, who appears to relish a challenge, and certainly knows where the goals are.
The Cats took an amazing 71 point lead into the half time break, 13.9 (87) to Port's 2.1 (16).
Port were always going to come back hard after receiving a Mark Williams bake at half time. Predictably they kicked the opening goal of the second half. The Cats should have kicked their first goal of the second half a little earlier than they did, making a meal out of several forays into goal that appeared certain to end in a goal. Eventually it was a rain sodden Cameron Mooney who soccered through his first goal before slapping a high five to a loyal but outnumbered poncho-wearing Geelong fan on the fence.
The third quarter was probably one of the more boring this correspondent has seen, but at the same time a satisfying one as the lead was pegged back only slightly to sixty-five points as Port had a crack but the Cats struggled to kick accurately with the wet ball, and probably took the foot off the pedal.
Rooke's third goal, the first of the final quarter, sent Geelong's score past one hundred points. This was followed by four goals straight to the Power before the Cats finished off with a final goal to David Wojcinski, who played a top game and joined Max Rooke with three goals.
To their credit, Port Adelaide fans stuck out the second half, and loudly cheered the 'junk time' goals scored towards the end.
Geelong again plays in the Fox Sports twilight fixture next weekend, against St Kilda at Telstra Dome. The week after that, the Cats travel back here to play Adelaide, again the Fox Sports twilight match. Keep up this record and the likes of Frank Costa (and maybe even AFL boss Andrew Demetriou favourite Steve Bracks) will be lobbying the AFL to take up Channel Ten's offer of a twilight Grand Final. Now all we need is for the match to be covered on Fox Sports instead of Free to Air for this run to continue!
HOW GOOD ARE THE CATS PLAYING?
AS OF 21/5/2007 GEELONG HAD 28,590 MEMBERS, UP JUST 142 (0.5%) FROM 28,448 MEMBERS LAST WEEK (14/5/2007). TARGET: 32,291 (3,701 TO GO!)
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