GEELONG OPENS SEASON WITH WIN OVER TIGERS; BRAD OTTENS
DEBUTS AS GEELONG'S 1000TH EVER PLAYER
GEELONG opened their 2005 season with a good win by ten goals over the Richmond Tigers at the MCG in front of just under fifty thousand people. Geelong lost the 'Big Hairy Cat' Cameron Mooney on Friday after training and then lost another two key backmen in Tom Harley and Darren Milburn on match day. Still, a side of Geelong's quality would have no excuse losing a match to Richmond after losing three players, even if they are of the calibre of Mooney, Harley and Milburn.
BRAD OTTENS became the 1000th player to ever wear the Geelong jumper at the highest level (Matthew Egan was the 999th). Ottens, after crossing to Geelong from Richmond at the end of season 2004 was the subject of a verbal attack from new Richmond coach Terry Wallace during the week (see article below). Starting off in the ruck, Ottens kicked his first goal midway through the second quarter, and was immediately mobbed by his new team. Even Matthew Scarlett ran down from the backline to congratulate him. Ottens finished up with three goals, a competition high of 9 tackles, 15 hitouts and nine possessions.
ANDREW MACKIE kept his side in the hunt early in the game, booting three first quarter goals. Richmond dominated the first half of the opening term, but once Geelong kicked four in a row and lead at quarter time, heads dropped and never looked up again. Geelong, after taking a two goal lead into quarter time, went on to boot another six goals in the second quarter, and never looked like giving up their lead.
The third quarter was a lot more of the same - Geelong grew their lead by four goals, courtesy of a very determined midfield setup, disciplined backline and plucky forward line.
Towards the end of the game, which turned into a pedestrian affair, Geelong chipped the ball around to conserve their fitness; up to ten players were treated for cramp. As a result, the Tigers managed six goals like Geelong, the winning margin being the same as at quarter time lead, ten goals.
MATTHEW EGAN, from Essendon District FL club Oak Park, who came into the side to replace Tom Harley, played very well. Egan's game ended during the third term, after he bravely backed into a contest with a leading Matthew Richardson. Suffice to say Egan was cut down like a Greenpeace inflatable in front of the USS Nimitz, but his act of selflessness will be remembered by his peers and coaching staff - we're sure to see a lot more of Egan in the future. Egan spent 2004 on Geelong's rookie list, and after being promoted to the main list after the 2005 draft, took on number 19.
STEVEN KING began the game on the bench, which was not only a show of confidence in new recruit Ottens but also smart - King had not played a game all pre-season; a game against the Tigers was not the time to risk the best ruckman in Victoria. King finished with ten possessions and 8 hitouts.
SHANNON BYRNES, another newly elevated 'recruit' from the Rookie list, continued to show that little guys can play! Byrnes kicked two goals and had a third taken away, having a total of fourteen possessions.
The likes of Joel Corey, David Wojcinski, James Kelly, James (or is it now 'Jimmy'?) Bartel completely dominated the Richmond midfield. Down back Matthew Scarlett, Egan, Corey Enright had the better of their opponents. Enright, who kicked two goals, caused much grief in the Richmond coaching box after running free all over the ground, starting off in the backline. Both Enright and Kelly were missing for virtually all the second half of the 2004 season (Enright returned to play a cameo role in the finals) due to injury.
Gary Ablett, who had a quiet word to cousin and Richmond on baller Shane Tuck after the game, was relatively quiet but displayed his patented brilliance at times. Ablett kicked two goals two behinds.
Leading goalkickers on the day were Kent Kingsley (four), Mackie and Ottens (both three), Henry Playfair, Ablett, James Kelly, and Enright (all two). Playfair presented well up forward but finished the match down back, after Egan and Scarlett left the field due to injury and cramp.
Coach Mark Thompson was very happy following the match. He highlighted the fact that his team had kicked a high score (160 points), a fact assistant coach Ken Hinkley noted probably hadn't occurred since he was playing under Malcolm Blight in the mid nineties.
The rest of the team all contributed very well, the proverbial 'team effort'. Still to come back into the side are Mooney, Milburn and Harley. The likes of Steve Johnson, Charlie Gardiner and Tim Callan played in the VFL this week, and don't forget Nathan Ablett waiting in the wings. Peter Riccardi continues to be the best 'nineteenth man' in the competition; coming off the bench to have immediate impact. Riccardi's 261st game netted him one goal, fifteen kicks and eight marks, in his fourteenth season of AFL football. Paul Koulouriotis is likely to be dropped, after replacing Darren Milburn at the last minute.
Next week Geelong travel to Perth to play the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night, a tough game - the Eagles defeated the Adelaide Crows on their home turf Saturday night.
GEELONG: 6.2, 12.6, 19.10, 25.10 (160) DEFEATED
GEELONG'S 1000TH PLAYER, BRAD OTTENS IS MOBBED BY HIS NEW TEAMMATES AFTER KICKING HIS FIRST GOAL FOR THE CATS
SHANNON BYRNES ENJOYS THIS GOAL