GEELONG celebrated Steven King's 150th game with a sixty-five point win over Hawthorn, keeping intact their 100% home game record for 2004, and securing forth spot on the ladder. Geelong started off shaky while the Hawks put in a good effort in the first term, before the Cats put the foot down - from then on the game was all but over, the winning margin a matter of trivia. Geelong has earned a double chance and plays Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium (Football Park) next Sunday.
David Spriggs came into the side as a late replacement for Kane Tenace. Hawthorn kicked the first goal of the game, through Lance Picioane. The Cats kicked the next two and also added another five behinds. The Hawks kicked four more goals for the quarter to hold a fifteen point lead at quarter time, drawing jeers from the terraces. Geelong played some sloppy football while Hawthorn played quite well.
It was a different story in the second term, the Cats booting five goals seven behinds while the Hawks could not score at all. Steve Johnson booted two more and backmen Darren Milburn and Brenton Sanderson dobbed one through each.
The third quarter was more of the same, although Hawthorn did kick two more goals. Kicking to the 'city' end, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson, Cameron Mooney and Cameron Ling kicked a goal each.
In the final term Ben Graham bagged three, two coming from long bombs from outside fifty on his 'wrong' side. The other was a clever snap from general play in front of goal. Steve Johnson booted his fifth for the day, his eighteenth this season from ten games.
A feature of Geelong's game were so called one-percenters that won't appear on any stats sheet, but are just as effective as handpasses or short kicks. Time after time, when meeting a loose ball, a Geelong play would tap it to their team's advantage. This won't get counted in any stats, but this team's about winning matches, not stats contests.
On stats, the forwards were once again fairly inaccurate in front of goal. Kent Kingsley had an ordinary day in front of goal, but did give off a few goals to teammates. The poor delivery at times didn't help, the ball frequently bombed into the forward line, Kingsley having no choice but to contest to split to pack open, for a crumbing Johnson, Gary Ablett or Paul Chapman to pounce.
Although Ablett had a handy twenty-one possessions, he kicked just the three behinds, no goals. Chapman kicked two goals but had just ten kicks, no handballs, coming off a quiet game against the Crows last week. Johnson and Graham were definitely the pick of the forwards, with five and three goals each. David Haynes, who replaced Charlie Gardiner in the side, was promising but didn't quiet deliver anything outstanding.
The backline, once again lead by Matthew Scarlett, was superb. They had a difficult time in the first quarter, and repelled many Hawthorn sorties. From then on, they spent most of their time in Geelong's half of the ground, most Hawthorn forwards flooding down the ground. Brenton Sanderson was great, as was Darren Milburn. Milburn spent some time on the ball, starting at centre bounces. Tom Harley played mostly on Nick Holland, who was ineffective.
Steven King's 150th game was one of his best for the season, beating one of this season's premier ruckmen in Peter Everitt. King, who played in what can only be described as 'runners' with cleats, had nearly twenty possessions and thirty hitouts, and spent most time on the ground.
Midfielders Cameron Ling, Joel Corey and Paul Koulouriotis had field days, roaming the ground at will. Ling paid little attention to opponent Sam Mitchell, to his advantage. Peter Riccardi, who possibly played his last game at Skilled Stadium, contributed well, making few mistakes.
Next Sunday Geelong play Port Adelaide on their home turf. Should Geelong cause an upset and defeat the Power, they'll have a week off and play a preliminary final at the MCG. If they lose, the Cats will play the winner Melbourne (5th) v Essendon (8th), at the MCG.
Selection is sure to be a nightmare this week, with no players injured today. James Bartel comes back from suspension, while Corey Enright's and Tim Callan may also be back from injury.
GEELONG: 2.5 7.12 11.15 17.21 (123) DEFEATED
GOALS: GEELONG: S Johnson 5, Graham 3, Chapman 2, Riccardi, Mooney,
Sanderson, Moloney, Milburn, Koulouriotis, Ling 1
1ST QUALIFYING FINAL:
Geelong plays Port Adelaide in their biggest game in over five years this Sunday. After storming home to finish forth, the Cats face the top ranked Power, at AAMI Stadium. Both sides take their own 'hoodoos' into this match. FULL MATCH PREVIEW
THE BACKLINE GENERAL, MATTHEW SCARLETT
NEW DAD PETER RICCARDI LAPS UP GEELONG'S EIGHTH WIN AT HOME