CATS HOLD OFF HAWKS
IN THRILLER AT MCG
By Ben Jensen HAWTHORN V GEELONG GEELONG held on to defeat a fast finishing Hawthorn side by just eight points at the MCG last night. Many supporters were describing the match as a 'disgrace' rather than a 'thriller' on the ride home, as despite being fourty-one points in front five minutes into the final term, the Hawks caused at least one heart attack of a Geelong supporter as they rammed through six unanswered goals from forward guns Roughead and Franklin to give the Cats a real run for their money in front of nearly seventy thousand people. The encounter was not as spiteful as the list of reports suggested however there was plenty of noise from the crowd, which was overwhelmingly pro-Hawthorn (many of them wearing very new looking gear it must be said).
Hawthorn forwards Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead put on an awesome display of how to play the power forward role in the final quarter, kicking six goals straight between them after earlier on kicking several behinds. Next week Geelong host Richmond at Skilled Stadium while Hawthorn faces Sydney, whose coaching staff including Paul Roos and John Longmire were in force observing their foes. Gary Ablett was simply superb, who had thirty-five posessions and only two 'clangers', although he did add to Geelong's goalkicking woes with one goal two behinds.
GEELONG 4.8 8.16 14.19 15.21 (111) DEFEATED
CROWD: 69,593 at MCG
UMPIRES: McBurney, Wenn, S.Ryan
The Hawks initially took the lead with the first score of the match (a behind), but from that point onwards the Cats held the lead, Ryan Gamble kicking the opening goal of the match. Michael Osborne answered back midway through the term with his side's first goal, before the Cats dominated the next ten minutes with three goals. They did, however, display shades of the 2008 Grand Final as they also piled on eight behinds, one of them which was rushed but not 'deliberately' hence no free kick. Geelong led by a maximum twenty-two points, but two late goals to the Hawks to Roughead and Stuart Dew pegged that back to twelve points at quarter time.
The second term was another interesting quarter of footy, albeit predictable; the Cats appearing to dominate play, peppering the goals but not capitalising with actual goals. The Hawks regained the lead at the twenty-second minute mark after their fourth goal of the quarter through Cameron Stokes. As they often do just before half time, the Cats answered back in the dying stages, booting three goals, amoung the scorers Cameron Mooney with his first, to go to a eighteen point lead. Seconds before half time however Hawthorn's excellent second-year player Cyril Rioli snagged one to peg Geelong's lead back to twelve points (from twelve behinds).
For the Geelong supporter, the third quarter was 'more like it', although seeing Max Rooke reported was not welcome. Rooke however provided the impetuous up forward that may have won his side the game, kicking two goals in the middle of the quarter as the Hawks threatened to answer back Geelong's two goals in the first ten minutes. Up to the twenty-minute mark, Paul Chapman, Mooney, Rooke (two) and Tom Lonergan each kicked goals while the Hawks barely troubled the scorers.
That man Dew did eventually open the Hawks' account 23 minutes in, Lance Franklin kicking his second of the match a short time later to cut Geelong's lead from what was fourty-one points back to twenty-nine. Steve Johnson kicked truly from outside the fifty-metre arc minutes before the three quarter time siren to increase the lead to thirty-six points, giving his side a handy six goal buffer. Hawthorn should have pegged Geelong back another goal before the final break, however messed it up while the Cats scored yet another behind to see them lead by thirty-seven points at three quarter time.
After Geelong's kicked the first (and their only) goal of the final term through 2008 All Australian Corey Enright, the margin was fourty-three points in their favour. The official Betfair odds were flashed up on the screen: $1.01 for a Geelong win, $100 even for a Hawthorn win. At the time one scribe mused to his neighbour that if the players were allowed to bet, that'd be a fair incentive given it was only seven and a bit goals with most of the game left. (It was also observed that if you put $1 Million on you'd get back an easy ten grand).
Harry Taylor had done an admirable job on Franklin up until the last quarter, but as Matthew Scarlett was forced to spend extended periods off the ground he and Roughead really started to tear it up; all six of their goals coming from set shots from marks around the thirty to fourty metre mark, generally on an angle. It probably didn't help that Darren Milburn had what had to have been his worst game ever for Geelong. But you couldn't help but admire the twin towers Hawthorn snared with picks two and five in the 2004 National Draft after bottoming out that season. While they cleared out the cobwebs earlier on in the game, in the second half when the game was there to be won (or clawed back) they made absolutely no mistake, the left footers confidently slamming home goal after goal.
Up forward, the conclusions aren't good for the Cats but you can only hope improvements can be made to confidence as the season progresses, although last night's 'yips' on the big stage couldn't help. Mooney missed two early shots, including a kick eerily similar to last year's shot after the half time siren in the Grand Final. He did slam home his next two shots however. Steve Johnson kicked three behinds although they were all marginal shots; his two goals were from set shots, one of them from outside fifty (to the surprise of this scribe's neighbour in The Cattery press box). Lonergan didn't get into the game at all in the first half, and his only goal came courtesy of a fifty-metre penalty after Luke Hodge was reported for high contact after Lonergan marked near the boundary line twenty-five metres out. He had his only three kicks in the third quarter, and no posessions at all in the last quarter.
A question being asked over breakfast across Geelong and the Western District this morning was: "Who is the Geelong goalkicking coach? Do they have one?". On the evidence from last night and indeed the NAB Cup final, they probably don't have one and they need one. It's obviously a confidence thing, and the fact that a team like Hawthorn is one of the only in the competition to keep Geelong 'honest'. The Cats simply peppered the goals from general play, under pressure from the Hawks. Not a lot you can do about that, but it's kicking from set shots that cost the Cats five or six goals last night.
$100 HAWTHORN WIN Betfair's official odds five minutes into the final quarter (Geelong were paying $1.01 at the time)
AFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON 2009, ROUND 1
HAWTHORN V GEELONG
FRIDAY 27 MARCH 2009, 19:40 AEST
GEELONG NAB CUP GRAND FINAL WIN DVD
HAWTHORN 2008 PREMIERSHIP DVD