Dons crack under pressure

Monday, July 22

GEELONG coach Mark Thompson wasn't going to be fooled the second time round.

In round one Essendon surprised Geelong with its intensity to run out easy 50-point winners but the Cats reversed the trend on Saturday night to score a 39-point victory, 14.11 (95) to 8.8 (56).

The win pushed Essendon out of the top eight for the first time since round 16, 1998, while the Cats are sitting pretty in fifth spot with a genuine crack at a top-four spot next weekend when it plays the team above it, Adelaide, at Skilled Stadium.

Thompson was true to his word when in the week leading up to the match he said he would tackle the Bombers head on.

He said after the match that he believed it had been Geelong's best chance to beat the Bombers in his time at the helm. That belief must have gone up a notch when he found out shortly before the game that Dustin Fletcher was a late withdrawal due to a virus, but even he was surprised by the ease of the win.

``I wouldn't have thought after round one that we would have beaten Essendon like that on the return visit,'' he said.

Cameron Mooney set the tone early for Geelong with his attack on the ball, providing the focal point up forward in the first quarter kicking three goals.

Peter Riccardi, James Rahilly and Paul Chapman were relentless in driving the ball forward, exploiting Steven King's dominant ruckwork over Steve Alessio and David Hille.

When Essendon did push forward, it broke down across the half-forward line.

David Wojcinski was running hard off half-back before being forced from the ground with a rolled ankle that will put him in danger of missing out against Adelaide.

Darren Milburn had Dean Rioli covered early, Matthew Scarlett turned the tables on Matthew Lloyd and Tom Harley, Daniel Foster and Ben Graham were giving great support.

David Clarke was thrashing Damien Peverill on a wing and James Kelly was again a standout, belying his youthfulness.

Geelong broke the game open in the first 14 minutes of the second quarter, kicking four goals before Essendon added to its first-quarter score.

Sheedy had shifted Sean Wellman on to Mooney, quietening him, but it only served to ignite Kent Kingsley who kicked two goals in two minutes.

Essendon put the brakes on Geelong in the second half of the quarter and pulled back two goals, thanks largely to Blake Caracella who was the leading possession winner on the ground.

Essendon challenged in the second half, fighting back after Geelong had skipped out to a 41-point lead. Certainly the crowd sensed a late charge but that was snuffed out, fittingly, with a goal to Kingsley at the 17-minute mark of the last quarter.

He followed up three minutes later with his sixth for the night to seal the game.