CATS CLAW VICTORY OVER TIGERS - FACE
DEMONS IN ELIMINATION FINAL
LAST SUNDAY the Geelong Football Club farewelled Skilled Stadium for another year and scraped over the line against a dogged Richmond side by just one behind. Brenton Sanderson played his final game at the venue while Richmond's 297-game veteran Wayne Campbell bowed out altogether.
It was one of the more frustrating games to watch as both sides struggled into the wind at the Gary Ablett Terrace but excelled toward the Hickey Stand end. During the third quarter Terry Wallace employed ugly stalling tactics, which the Cats duly copied in the final term.
In the first quarter Geelong kicked four goals to Richmond's two behinds. Most game highlights occurred during the opening term. Nathan Ablett marked the ball on a wing in front of the new stand, and kicked just inside fifty to a pack, including brother Gary. Gary rose "like a phoenix from the ashes" to take a speccy that should have been given mark of the round (see image on right) but for some reason barely rated a mention.
Steve Johnson's goal while practically lying on the ground was the goal of the day. Johnson provided most of the spark in the first half, having a hand in most goals.
The umpiring was once against perplexing and very nearly shaped the result. Case in point - during the final quarter Steve Johnson was infringed while near the boundary line. Johnson picked the ball up and snapped it through for what appeared to be a miraculous, match sealing goal. Instead the umpire pulled the pick back, which Johnson duly kicked out on the full. The Cats went on to score just a solitary behind that quarter which turned out to be the winning margin.
Another one was when Brenton Sanderson took posession of the ball deep within Richmond's forward line - only to be tackled right away. He went to ground and held possession despite having one arm pinned, yet a free kick was awarded to Richmond who converted for a goal.
Countless other times Geelong players caught their opponents with the ball and for the most part went unrewarded. Quite frustrating - potentially life threatening for those like Sanderson with heart complaints.
But in the end the Cats prevailed. 'Ace' players such as Steven King and Paul Chapman were literally kept on ice for most of the game, spending extended periods on the interchange bench. The Geelong coaching staff are clearly thinking ahead to this Saturday's final against Melbourne.
For the final, players such as Corey Enright, David Johnson and Josh Hunt are reportedly close to being declared fit. So too is Melbourne's David Neitz and Cameron 'The' Bruce. Mercurial Travis Johnstone is also a good chance to play, probably the most likely of the trio to make an impact.
Should Neitz not play Matthew Scarlett will surely take Demon match-winner of late Russell Robertson. If Neitz does play, Scarlett may still play on Robertson but at least Tom Harley will be back to guard Neitz. Having all three of Scarlett, Harley and new boy Matt Egan in the same side will most likely get the Cats over the line.
It must not be forgotten that the Demons scraped into the finals playing well planned four quarter games - albeit winning by small margins each time. Geelong needs to build a sizable lead by three quarter time and not let it slip - they'd do well to take note of Richmond's tactics on the weekend. While not pretty, they almost enabled the Tigers a win to farewell Campbell in style.
Tickets went on sale on Monday, and there should be plenty left - but get in now before all the good seats are sold out.
GEELONG: 4.2, 7.2, 10.8, 10.9 (69) DEFEATED
GOALS GEELONG: Milburn 2, Johnson
2, N Ablett, G Ablett, Harley, Kelly, Mooney, Riccardi RICHMOND:
Richardson 2, Krakouer 2, Pettifer, Campbell, Bowden, Kellaway, Tambling,
GARY ABLETT JUNIOR'S GRAB IN THE FIRST QUARTER WAS ONE OF THE MARKS OF THE SEASON. BEST OF ALL, HE KICKED THE GOAL! CLICK FOR 'FULL SIZED' IMAGE
CAMERON LING'S BRAVE MARK IN FRONT OF THE RAGING BULL MATTHEW RICHARDSON SAVED THE GAME