CATS TESTED BY ABLETT'S SUNS BUT
WIN BY 11 GOALS
By Ben Jensen twitter.com/thecattery GOLD COAST SUNS V GEELONG CATS GEELONG were tested by AFL new boys Gold Coast and in fact trailed at half time, but won after a 13 goal to 1 second half to cement their position on top of the ladder undefeated after nine games. Gary Ablett and former teammates embraced warmly after the match as hostilities ceased, and even Steve Johnson and Campbell Brown hugged and had a good chat. Johnson was certainly in a good mood after kicking seven goals, his best yet. Read The Cattery's Mark 'Heano' Heenan's report of proceedings here; Mark moved to the Gold Coast late last year.
The Suns smashed the Cats in the first quarter, leading by 24 points at the first break after pre-match fireworks literally fired them up (and scared the hell out of Ten/One commentators.) Geelong nipped ahead in the second quarter briefly thanks to a run of goals by Steve Johnson, Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins, but the Suns snatched it back to lead by 11 points at the main break.
Obviously disappointed with their first half, the Cats didn't waste any time at all after half time, no doubt after a bit of a talking to by coach Chris Scott. Johnson treated the third quarter as his own personal highlight reel, booting two in the first couple minutes and three for the term and helping out for a few more. The only Gold Coast goal came from Zac Smith, and in fact it was to be the Suns' final goal for the match. Selwood bagged his second (and didn't he love it!?), Podsiadly got a couple and before you knew it Geelong was in front by 58 points when the siren rang.
The last quarter was a bit of a yawn fest, the Suns scoring just two behinds while the Cats were entertaining enough; Johnson booting his seventh, bettering his previous match-best of six. The real highlights were the first goals to Nathan Vardy and Josh Cowan respectively, Vardy in his second game and Cowan his first. Cowan started as Geelong's designated substitute, and replaced Hawkins in the third quarter. Vardy looked like he may only last the first few minutes of the match after running into Sun Karmichael Hunt. After the neck brace was called for it didn't look good, but Geelong medico Chris Bradshaw once more showed his pragmatism, assessing the injury as non-threatening and Vardy walked off to rejoin play a bit later on.
The win goes to show you how good the Cats' brains trust and recruiters have been at list management. True, there's still half a dozen to retire in the next two seasons and the Cats may not win another flag, but the main point is they're a genuine contender. Players like Taylor Hunt, Dan Menzel, Allen Christensen and when he isn't injured Mitch Duncan are pretty much regulars now, and for the most part were unheard of in 2009. Others such as the recent débutantes Cowan and Vardy, along with Mitch Brown, Cam Guthrie and Tom Gillies will get their chances soon enough and are ready to go. For mine that'll be the difference between us and early noughties premiers Essendon, Brisbane and West Coast who all pretty much dropped off a cliff competitive wise as they hung on far too long to aging superstars without much pressure from the 'twos'.
Umpiring was a bit of a thread on Twitter and no doubt in most Geelong households, but for mine the Cats got a decent enough run of it. We simply played unintelligent footy in the first half, gave away too many frees. Were lucky not to give away more in the first half! Maybe we could've got a few more ourselves, but of course in accordance with The Cattery tradition, if we won, no point complaining about the umpiring.
Geelong play the Western Bulldogs next weekend down at Skilled Stadium, a side in a fair bit of disarray after a 123 point spanking by the Eagles last weekend and what looms as another belting by Hawthorn tomorrow. We're off to watch Mark Webber hopefully bag another pole at Monaco on One not-HD (well it is but the HD moniker's gone); life's good down at The Cattery!
3.2. 8.3 16.9 21.13 (139) DEFEATED
CROWD: 21,485 at Carrara, Gold Coast