STRONG SHOWING: Gary Ablett junior celebrates his opportunist goal off the ground. Photo: MIKE DUGDALE
Monday, Feb. 24
EVERYTHNG worked for Geelong yesterday as it handed out a 59-point belting to the Western Bulldogs in the Wizard Cup first round at Skilled Stadium.
Across the centre, up forward and down back, Geelong players put into practice what they had drummed into them through the preseason to record a resounding victory, 2.19.14 (146) to 4.7.9 (87).
In doing so the Cats booked themselves a trip to Cairns next week to play last year's AFL premiers Brisbane in a quarter final on Saturday night.
The forward line shared the goals, the midfielders dominated on rotation, and the backline rebounded strongly and played tightly when threatened as Geelong controlled the game.
David Spriggs returned to take up where he left off in the midfield, Cameron Mooney, Kent Kingsley and Steve Johnson kicked 10 goals between them and Ben Graham looked relaxed down back.
``The things we've been working on over summer, the structure, it worked the whole day,'' coach Mark Thompson said after the win.
``Previously, when we've played the Bulldogs we've had good leads and they've broken our game plan apart and we just weren't going to let it happen today.''
Corey Enright on a wing and Paul Chapman on the ball were prolific and kicked a goal apiece, and Gary Ablett two late in the game.
Matthew McCarthy returned the club's faith, with coach Mark Thompson describing him as ``a bit of a surprise packet'' in his first senior game for the club.
Starting in the forward line McCarthy made his presence felt early with a handball to Paul Chapman at the nine minute mark for the Cats' opening goal.
He had a hand in a couple more goals before finding himself on the end of a slick Geelong movement early in the third quarter, marking and kicking truly to open up a 40-point lead.
Geelong's forward line has for some time been considered the most fragile element of the side but yesterday it proved hard to contain as the Cats kicked 21 goals, the best return since round four last year against St Kilda at home.
``(We had) a lot of goal kickers and I thought the options we had up there were good,'' Thompson said.
``Matthew McCarthy playing his first game for the club was a bit of a surprise packet. He had a few good marks and a hand in some critical goals and looks like he might be an option for us later on.''
The Bulldogs scored the opening goal of the match but it was Geelong that then dominated the play and by quarter time had already opened up a 20-point lead.
Geelong posted its first nine-point goal early in the second quarter, courtesy of Cameron Ling, and Paul Chapman followed suit 10 minutes later to give Geelong a 31 point lead.
Mooney kicked two late goals to take his tally to three.
Bulldogs coach Peter Rohde described the Geelong side as ``very physical'' and ``very good''.
``They were obviously hard at it,'' he said.
``It was a hard physical game early on. I thought the first half they were very physical and hard at it.
``I thought their skills stood up a lot better under that sort of pressure.''