Monday, April 21
YOU could almost hear Melbourne's spirit snap.
Villain Adem Yze had petulantly kicked the ball away after teammate Daniel Ward gave away a free kick to Geelong deputy vice-captain Cameron Ling deep into the third quarter with the game in the balance.
Geelong already held a two-point lead after a soaring goal square mark by Darren Milburn and when Ling found Corey Enright alone and streaming forward he pinpointed the kick and Enright finished with a goal on the run to extend the lead to eight points.
It was the second of what was to be eight unanswered goals in a barnstorming finish for Geelong that snapped a three-game losing streak.
And yet only eight minutes earlier the Demons had skipped out to a seven-point lead after a long goal to Chris Heffernan. The momentum, so briefly and marginally, looked to be in Melbourne's favour.
Such a goal would normally have been the catalyst to lift a team but in a rude twist it effectively threw Melbourne into a coma and Geelong, sensing the lapse, had pounced quickly.
Melbourne could manage just one more point for the match in a display described by coach Neale Daniher as ``embarrassing'' and an indictment on the club's character.
Conversely, Geelong would have drawn enormous spirit and confidence from the win after being under the hammer and having its commitment questioned so early in the season.
The nature of the win and its subsequent effect on the playing group was not lost on coach Mark Thompson after the game.
``I'm sure it's a big relief for them and the sense that they know they can play this game again will be refreshing for them,'' he said.
``It gives them a chance to go into next week (St Kilda) not under the sort of pressure they've been under.''
But for the coach, he always held faith that a win was never far away and always maintained he was oblivious to the pressure that inevitably comes with losing the opening three matches of a season.
``Either way for me I knew the victories would come and I knew that essentially this group of guys would work their way through it,'' he said.
``It's hard for them, they're young and immature and they haven't been through footy for long (but) I've been through it a long time and I know how it all works - it works in cycles.''
Just why Geelong ran this game out so hard when it had faltered so calamitously in its previous three encounters was a matter of ``persistence'', according to Thompson.
``I think our boys were pretty keen to see it through today,'' he said.
``They wanted it pretty much today, they're not a bad group of guys. They work pretty hard and they were pretty desperate to have a victory.''