The Cats bounced out of the gates and withstood a challenge from the Crows before kicking away in the last to record a great road win, and start the season 3-0.

Some inaccuracy from in front of goal (Brad Crouch and Tom Lynch) really hurt Adelaide at crucial times. Meanwhile at the other end, a long range bomb from Gary Ablett, and a running shot on an acute angle by Gryan Miers enabled Geelong to kick away.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

 

PATRICK DANGERFIELD

Oh man… let me rattle a few of these off for you.

32 disposals, 11 score involvements, 10 clearances, seven tackles and 12 inside 50s. That, my friends, is a complete midfielder’s game.

In the third quarter, he managed just five disposals, as the Crows threw Matt Crouch onto him to head to head at centre stoppages, and it seemed to be working.

Right up until he kicked a game-breaking goal.

The goal he rammed through in the third quarter was an absolute cracker, taking a beautiful ruck tap from Rhys Stanley, Danger found open space ahead of him as he collected the pill. He turned on the jets, and slammed it through from 55 metres in a scintillating piece of power football.

If there was any question as to whether Danger has entered the 2019 season in great shape, the first three games of the year have answered them, emphatically.

He is averaging 32 touches with over six clearances per contest. Could another Brownlow be in his sights? He’d have to be outright favourite at the moment, and he probably won’t have Dusty to contend with this year, given the start he’s had.

 

TIM KELLY

Heart in mouth stuff as he limped off the park late in the game, huh Cats fans? Maybe a few nervous West Coast fans as well???

I listened to Brad Scott’s press conference, and strangely, he didn’t show up. But his brother did, and he said it was actually an ankle injury, and Kelly probably could’ve come back on in the last quarter.

That was wonderful news, as he is starting to produce the sort of form that makes you wonder whether he’ll want to upset the apple cart at the end of the year and move home after all?

Whilst he “only” had 24 touches due to spending over 30 minutes on the bench, he had 13 contested touches and five centre clearances in that time. He continually presented for those running out of defensive 50, and had five score involvements as well.

If Kelly is looking to return home at season’s end, everything he is doing right now is adding dollars to his asking price. He may have made the leap over the first three games into the elite bracket of the competition’s midfield. I know he is scoring heavily in the upcoming Mongrel Player Power Rankings, due to drop after Round Four.

 

BRAD CROUCH

The comeback continues.

As the Crows fall to 1-2, including two losses at their Adelaide fortress, they’d have to be looking for good news stories. Brad Crouch is the best of them.

He had a game-high 35 touches for the Crows, and added eight clearances to them to make for an excellent night at the office. Though he was untidy at times, he managed eight score involvements, and applied good defensive pressure as well.

Crouch was sorely missed by the Crows in 2018, and has resumed duties where he left off in 2017, but he seems to be playing in a team with too many of the same players in the middle at the moment. He, his brother and Rory Sloane are all very see-ball, get-ball kinds of players, and they’re looking currently as though offence is their only weapon at stoppages.

It’s the same problem Geelong had last year with Dangerfield, Ablett and Selwood all in the middle. They need to rectify it quickly, but how?

I reckon Bryce Gibbs is needed in the middle to provide a bit of poise and skill once the initial clearance takes place. The Crows are getting their hands on it first (37-31) but they’re not doing much with it. Someone like Gibbs on the spread creates problems. He didn’t show it tonight (keep reading,we’ll get to him) but as a permanent fix, he would surely add another dimension to Adelaide through the middle.

They’re very one-paced at the moment.

 

MARK BLICAVS AND HARRY TAYLOR

There’s a very good reason Blicavs has a couple of best and fairest awards with the Cats – he gets the job done.

Alternating between beating Tex Walker and beating Josh Jenkins, Blicavs used his run and endurance to collect 22 touches, leaving both opponents in his wake whenever the opportunity presented.

There are not many forwards who can lay claim to beating Blicavs over the course of an entire game, and we didn’t add any to the list tonight either. He just wears them down,and wears them out.

And then there was Taylor. I heard a few people question whether Harry actually walked straight back into the Cats’ defensive six this season. Well, he hasn’t walked back in; he’s strutted back in and has taken control again.

He looks fit, he looks sharp, and whilst the Cats have other defensive anchors that have bobbed up over the last few years (Stewart and Blicavs are excelling in their roles), Harry has quietly gone about the business of making sure that backline is in sync.

What an addition to be able to make.

 

DANIEL TALIA

Like Blicavs at the other ended, Talia is as dependable as they come.

His stats won’t ever tell the story – he doesn’t even get a heap of one percenters, but his body work, and his ability to work his opponent out of the contest without giving away free kicks is wonderful. Hawkins got away for about two minutes in this game, and handed off an assist to go along with a mark and a goal, for the remainder of the game, Talia played a classic Talia game.

You don’t often see his name up in lights, or even listed amongst the best players, but his efforts don’t go unnoticed at The Mongrel.

 

LUKE DAHLHAUS

In the Mongrel chat, someone mentioned he is not a bad replacement for Daniel Menzel. True… true. In actual fact, he is a huge upgrade, particularly when it comes to the defensive pressure he brings.

He had eight tackles again this week, taking his season total to 24 – they are incredible numbers. Three of those tackles were inside 50, which is probably three more than Menzel had for the year last season. That’s the second time in those three games he’s hit that three-tackle mark, giving the Cats a disruptor when the ball hits the deck.

When you combine him with Gary Rohan, who despite not getting a heap of it, knows how to use his body beautifully to create space, and you don’t have to think about Dan Menzel, who is doing bugger all in Sydney as he recovers from injury.

Many said the Cats would fall away this year, and you know… they still might, but it won’t be because of poor recruiting. They brought Luke Dahlhaus in for a reason, and he is earning his spot in that side each and every week.

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Grab a Mongrel Bumper Sticker – click the image, grab a sticker and help spread the Mongrel word. We’d really appreciate it.

 

THE BAD

 

JOSH JENKINS

Really close to making the ‘ugly’ category this week.

He started well, and then all of a sudden, looked tentative, confused, and tentatively confused for most of the game. At other times he was confusedly tentative, just to complete this complete butchering of the English language.

Forget that shitful handball out of bounds after ignoring every lead his fellow forwards made – Jenkins’ overall efforts, sans his first quarter, were poor.

He looked like a clumsy oaf in this one after a promising start to the game, where he looked as though he may have been Adelaide’s most dangerous forward. He marked on the lead, then took that mark with the flight against Henderson, and had he decided to attack the ball hard, probably would’ve drawn a free kick against Sam Menegola who ran in and killed the ball with the flight. He could have ended the first quarter as the Crows’ best player. But he didn’t. For the rest of the game, every time he went near it, he kind of stopped and propped, never fully attacking the contest.

Part of me wanted Pyke to send him into the ruck, where he kind of found his groove last week, but his time in that role was extremely fleeting this week.

I know a lot of Crow supporters like to take a swing at Jenkins, and really, over the past couple of years, he’s been their most consistent forward, so I don’t think it’s been entirely justified…

… but swing away after that anaemic performance. For three quarters, he was putrid.

 

RORY LAIRD

I never thought I’d be writing this – it hurts me to do it, but despite a third quarter where he managed to get himself involved in the play, Laird was largely a non-contributor.

The stats say he went at 70% efficiency, but it was painfully apparent that he was not his usual self. He picked up 24 touches, but was completely unsighted in the first quarter as the Geelong forward worked hard to make sure Laird was kept boxed in, and unable to provide that run and carry he had over the past couple of seasons.

Whenever he ventured anywhere further than the defensive 50 metre arc, his ability to hit targets really dropped off, and his handball to Alex Keath in the last quarter put the big man under the pump and he was caught holding the ball. This game was un-Laird-like.

You know what? If he gets seven touches in the first quarter, we’d be sitting here thinking that he was pretty serviceable, but he wasn’t. I like to see when an accumulator does something meaningful with his touches – Laird had just one score involvement all game, and that was despite having 14 of his touches between the arcs. His grubbing exit from defence in the second quarter made me wonder if someone had thrown the number 29 on some stocky bloke from the crowd – Laird just doesn’t kick like that, and it was lucky that Tim Kelly didn’t make him pay.

I expect him to bounce back – he is too good a player to have too many of these games early in the season. One is enough. One is too many.

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THE UGLY

 

THE PLAYERS WHO STOOD UP LAST SEASON

You’ll have to forgive me for picking on an injured bloke here, but he is part of a duo I wanted to highlight as really ineffective.

Paul Seedsman was a running, metres-gaining machine last season. His drive was able to give the Crows great penetration, and get players like Josh Jenkins out the back for goals. This season, he has been reduced to the type of player who, had he not had that awkward landing, may have found his way back to the SANFL next week.

At half time, Seed had just one effective possession. For a guy who runs hard, there is no excuse for this. He averaged over 20 touches a game last year. Even if his feet were nailed to the ground, surely he could’ve done something a little better than one touch that found a teammate?

The other bloke is Bryce Gibbs.

First off, I am a huge fan of his ability, and if you read the reviews of Adelaide games I posted last year, you’d know that I was a huge supporter of the way he played the first half of the year when his ball-winning teammates were struggling. With the Crouch brothers, and Rory Sloane all spending time out, Gibbs went into the middle and played a fantastic role for the team, averaging 26.8 touches, and 6.2 clearances over the first 11 games.

As the in-and-under mids came back, Gibbs moved to a more outside role.

Well, now he is all outside role, but he isn’t doing that very well. He is traveling at 22 touches per game over the first three weeks of the 2019, and is collecting just three clearances per game. To make matters worse, his outside ball isn’t clean, and whilst he banged it long either inside 50, or rebounding from 50 eight times, he only went at 63% efficiency.

So while the Crows have welcomed back Brad Crouch, and Rory Sloane is playing some excellent footy in the guts, the drop off has come from Seedsman and Gibbs. They’re supposed to be the polish to complement the inside work of the aforementioned players.

But they’re just not. The grunt is there, but the outside work has fallen in a hole.

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Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

 

 QUICK BITS

Interesting to see Eddie Betts up the field a little in the first half. Adelaide are obviously desperate to get him involved, but close to goal he really can’t get a sniff. I thought Eddie was in for a big year, and perhaps a return to the 50-goal returns he produced regularly, but we’re now three games into the 2019 season, and he has just three goals to his name. Someone asked last week if he was cooked. I don’t think he’s cooked, but the heat is increasing every week.

Gryan Miers… there’s a crappy name if I’ve ever heard one, but he sure knows where the goals are, doesn’t he? Actually, the name Miers is a good one, and if he spelt it differently… like, hmmmm…. Meyers, I’d probably like him a lot more.

On a serious note, he must have a lot of belief in himself, because on that last shot at goal, he really burned a couple of players in the corridor, including Mitch Duncan, who was wide open. Still three goals for the young man… great return.

That long goal from Gary Ablett in the last quarter was an absolute beauty. I have to admit, I am barracking for Gaz this year. I want to see some more Ablett magic before he decides it’s time. I liked the fact he was a bit grumpy at Kyle Hartigan in the last quarter… it shows he still cares.

He only had two contested touches out of the 17 he had, which means he is trying to get outside quite a bit, but his nine score involvements indicate that when he gets the ball, good things still happen, and you know the day he snags five isn’t too far away.

Those three 50 metre penalties in the first seven minutes – that’d have to piss Don Pyke off a little, huh? I thought the one against Tex was probably a little harsh, but the other two were definitely there. That was just undisciplined by both Bryce Gibbs and Rory Sloane.

Speaking of Sloane, he was probably a goal away from playing a real captain’s knock, particularly in the third quarter. His second shot looked great off the boot, but faded and hit the post. That goal would’ve been huge in the context of the game.

I really liked the game of Sam Menegola (I didn’t call him Todd) tonight. He has a ripping pair of hands, and is so strong over the ball. The one issue I see with him is that he’s an absolute one-speed player. He always looks as though he is sitting in second gear while everyone else is in fourth.

This was evident in the last quarter where you saw the best and worst of him. His contested work over the ball was great, but his inability to create space and get a kick clear hurt him. He had three kicks smothered in the last quarter, and kicked another out on the full. Not everyone can have lightning hand to foot skills, but Menegola seems like he is a little too robotic to develop that aspect of his game.

Is it fair to say that was Tom Lynch’s best game in a while? Yet he still wasn’t all that great. He had plenty of it (26 touches) but that miss in the last quarter… that snuffed out the last of the Adelaide hope. He had 11score involvements and nine inside 50s, but you’d really like to see him hit the scoreboard more. With Mitch McGovern wearing navy blue, the Crows need him to be more than a bloke who misses four of his six shots at goal.

Tom Stewart is looking like he’ll be right in the mix to repeat as an All-Australian this season. Ten of his 23 touches were rebounds from defensive 50. The Cats trust him with ball in hand, and opposition teams would be well-served dropping someone into that forward half to play a defensive role on him.

Pretty quiet night for Joel Selwood, which made me a little sad. You all know I love this bloke, and even though I think he is the perfect guy to completely embrace a new role, I still like seeing him thrown into the guts when the Cats need a real physical presence in there. His 16 touches resulted in one of the quieter games he’s had in years (he had 16 in 2018 as well).

That said, some of his touches were important. His vision to enable him to handball over traffic and into the path of a teammate was excellent, and on one occasion resulted in Tim Kelly hitting Tom Hawkins on the chest, giving Talia no chance to spoil.

The kids? Constable was good again, as was Jordan Clark in patches. Chayce Jones showed a bit early, but faded.

I want Darcy Fogarty in the Adelaide side, damn it! Even if he comes in, runs into a few people and gets rubbed out, I’ll take it. they need a bit of mongrel in there.

Decent outing for Alex Keath. Probably the best I’ve seen him look. He really needs to make a fist of this opportunity to fill the Doedee role.

Really liked the resilience of the Cats. The Crows really challenged them twice in this one. Once late in the first quarter, and then again in the third. A young team can kind of panic when those moments occur, but the old heads at Geelong steadied the ship, and allowed the young blokes the freedom to play their game without getting sucked in to chipping short and trying to save the game. When it was there to be won, the Cats won it. They didn’t go into their shell and try to eke out a win. They took the game on, and it paid dividends.

A bit of a disappointing game for Brandan Parfitt, I thought. I expect him to be up and down at this stage of his career, but I also expect more ups than downs. He went at 43% efficiency on the night, and really missed the opportunity to give Ablett a legitimate one-on-one match up in the third. He held the ball for way too long and was run down as a result. First option, mate.

Geelong fans, are you seeing enough from Ratugolea yet? He is averaging under six touches per game this season, and just one mark. If you weren’t winning, the blowtorch would be on this bloke.

Tom Atkins was brought into the side for his tackling pressure, right? He pulled a Dustin Martin and had none tonight. I’m not sure he gets the same leeway to do that as Dusty.

Really liking what the Cats have been able to do with a mishmash of youngsters and a solid defence. How are they going to fit Bews and Tuohy into the defence with it performing so admirably? Who drops out? Henderson? He was solid today, but Jenkins did make it easy for him at times.

On a final note… did they drag out Seedsman’s exit off the field, or what? It looked to me like they drove the length of the field to allow players to slap hands with him. I’m not sure we want a tour of the oval when a player needs to come off with assistance, do we? I know it was nice for Erin Phillips to have that, as she is an icon in the women’s game, but I am not sure Seedsman carries the same weight in the men’s comp.

That’s me done – let us know what you think on the links below. And while you’re at it, if you want to support a new footy podcast doing the rounds, you could do far worse than to check out Billy Didn’t See It Coming. Vinnie White and friends take a look at the AFL and give you their take on recent happenings. Give ‘em a like, and give ‘em a listen.

 

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