WINNING FEELING: Kent Kingsley and Darren Milburn congratulate each other as the Cats' campaign picks up pace in the final quarter at Skilled Stadium on Saturday. Photo: REG RYAN
Monday, April 21
UNTIL Saturday Geelong hadn't won a final quarter of football this season but it put paid to that statistic in emphatic fashion at home against Melbourne.
The Cats booted six goals, three behinds to Melbourne's solitary behind in the last quarter to run out easy 46-point winners, 13.12 (90) to the Demons 6.8 (44).
Heading into the last quarter holding an eight-point lead, the social club and Brownlow stand supporters found their voice as Geelong defied its early season trend.
And among their heroes was one of the Cats most maligned players Brent Grgic.
After playing most of the game in defence blanketing Brad Green, Grgic was shifted forward and had an immediate impact, ending the quarter with the sort of statistics he would normally tally for an entire game.
Grgic had five kicks, took two marks and booted the Cats opening goal for the quarter three minutes in, effectively opening the floodgates.
From that point, it was a procession as Geelong's midfield took a strangle-hold on the match, feeding the ball forward relentlessly much to the delight of Kent Kingsley.
Held to one goal for three quarters by Melbourne first gamer Nathan Carroll, Kingsley hit a purple patch and booted three goals in three minutes to blow the game open.
But the architect of the win was the Cats deputy vice-captain Cameron Ling who cut loose in the last quarter picking up 10 kicks, three handballs and four marks.
For three quarters the game was reminiscent of traditional slogging matches despite the perfect conditions. Man-on-man was its nature and not an inch taken nor given by either side, a fact reflected in the low scores.
Just eight goals had been registered to half-time and, but for some high leaping from Melbourne forward Russell Robertson, the game was low on modern day highlights.
Geelong coach Mark Thompson described the first three quarters as ``sloppy'' and suggested his team was perhaps suffering a little from ``stage fright and lack of confidence''.
Not so James Bartel though. In his first game of the season the nineteen-year-old adjusted quickly to the pace to kick the opening goal inside three minutes and although he drifted in and out ended the day with 12 possessions.
The signs were promising for Melbourne early too, with skipper David Neitz kicking two goals in the first quarter and getting the better of Matthew Scarlett.
It proved to be short-lived with Neitz having just one more kick, mark and handball for the day.
It was a committed defensive display that drew praise from the coach and went some way to ensuring that Melbourne's dreadful record at Geelong remained in tact.