NO WINNERS IN DRAWN OUT AFFAIR; TOM
LONERGAN LOSES KIDNEY; RICCARDI SIGNS OFF; VFL TEAM LOOKS TO FINAL SHOWDOWN
By Ben Jensen GEELONG AND MELBOURNE football clubs fought out a draw at Skilled Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Cats did well to fight back after an awful first half whilst the Demons can kiss goodbye any chance of doing well in September. Peter Riccardi made his final farewell to his fans and teammates with a well deserved lap of honour. But the big story is young defender Tom Lonergan, who Sunday morning had a kidney removed and remains in intensive care.
Melbourne lead at half time by five goals, and looked to be running off with the game and Geelong's season eleven minutes into the final term when they kicked their twelfth goal of the match to Geelong's six. But the Cats didn't lie down, with the Ablett brothers, Steve Johnson, Matthew Scarlett and indeed most of the team knuckling down and slashing the margin to just nine points at the final change.
But, it ultimately wasn't to be. Matthew Scarlett's desperate snap at goal in the final few seconds was spilled by Demon defender Matthew Carroll. Jimmy Bartel pounced and despite his efforts to rush a behind, the siren sounded just as he gained possession. No siren-gate this time around, just a lot of stunned faces on both sides as they made their way from the field.
ROUND 21 2006, SKILLED STADIUM
GEELONG: 2.1 5.4 11.5 14.10 (94) DREW WITH
The Geelong Football Club released the following statement Sunday afternoon on Tom Lonergan's condition:
Tom Lonergan, who played a blinder in the back half, was hit from behind after bravely backing back in front of a leading Demon Brad Miller. Embattled coach Mark Thompson praised the versatile Lonergan in his post match press conference. "That's just brave and that's what people admire about some (players). Some (people) have got it in them to do it; he went off to hospital and fingers crossed he'll be OK, but he'll be admired for what he did today."
"I think today we probably learnt more about Tom than the three other years that he's been here and to me, he looked as if he played a reasonable game. I'm not sure how you've seen it, but knowing the boy, he took a few contested marks and played on difficult match-ups - tall ones, small ones - and he's another positive out of today." Couldn't agree more on that one - one of several positives to come from the day was Lonergan's emergence. He will probably never be in the best twenty-two but will get opportunities in seasons to come.
Nathan Ablett, returning for just his tenth career game and sixth for the season, looked the goods across centre half forward from the word go. He kicked two goals and had a hand in several others, and will be a key to the VFL team's push for a flag. Brother Gary Ablett had a quiet first half but really turned it on in the second.
Steve Johnson is almost at his electrifying best. He had one or two moments of madness but the simple facts in this game are 'who dares wins'. The Cats were being trounced and needed to take risks to have a chance of winning. Johnson took the risks and nearly delivered a win.
Paul Chapman was again fairly quiet but he provides leadership and stability to the midfield and forward line. Tom Harley was Geelong's best defender, playing on dangerous forward Russell Robertson. Robertson kicked just two goals, one coming from a free kick. Harley beat Robertson in nearly all marking contests; Harley is clearly nearly at peak form, it's a pity his season was once again ruined with injury.
Cameron Ling had one of his better games disposal wise. Jimmy Bartel continues to put his body on the line as well as dishing it out to opponents. With his number obscured he certainly appeared to play with the body of a Josh Hunt.
Mark Thompson has to go. Why? Unfortunately our current web host does not have enough storage space nor bandwidth to go into the complete list of reasons. Suffice to say a team that manages to win a pre-season final series; defeats and reigning premier and the next week finds itself six goals down yet fights its way back in front, has serious problems with leadership that begins in the coaches box.
Kent Kingsley made a belated comeback to the AFL team, replacing the much improved Andrew Mackie. Why wouldn't you give a kid like Ryan Gamble, who was handed the number fifteen jumper by retiring Peter Riccardi (dunno what was wrong with following in James Rahilly's footsteps, but anyway..). with much pomp and ceremony. Especially considering Nathan Ablett had finally earned a recall and surely deserves, no, NEEDS, some quality game time.
Matthew Scarlett played most of and indeed started the game at full forward. He contributed quite well in the second half but surely this is beyond the point - as Professor Julius Sumner Miller said "WHY IS IT SO?". The late withdrawal of Melbourne Captain David Neitz obviously meant Scarlett's obvious opponent was gone. But don't forget Melbourne's other deadly forward, Russell Robertson, who tore the Cats apart here last season, was giving Tom Harley one hell of a migraine at the opposite end to the competition's premier full back in Scarlett.
Harley turned out to be one of Geelong's best. Having Scarlett in front of him would have helped immensely and who's to say we wouldn't have won the game with Matty back there.
GEELONG 5.3 9.5 11.6 14.6 (90)
TOM LONERGAN BRAVELY BACKING BACK INTO THE MARKING CONTEST
PETER RICCARDI ON HIS LAP OF HONOUR WITH SON OSCA
VFL SECOND SEMI FINAL - SATURDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 13:10