Geelong sent Port Adelaide crashing back to earth with a resounding thud as they handled the league leaders with the kind of ease you’d expect to see when facing a bottom four side.

The Cats took control of this game early behind some intelligent ball use, extreme pressure around the contest and comparative excellent hands in close. They out-worked, out-muscled and out-thought a lacklustre Power team who seemed shell-shocked and/or fatigued after their bruising encounter with the Tigers last week.

But to give Port any sort of out here would discredit the enormous effort of the Cats, and the magnitude of the result. A ten-goal win over the best team in the land… and the ladder still indicates that Port are the best team in the land over the journey in 2020, is significant.

Geelong fans would now rightly be eyeing off the flag, whilst Port fans may be sobered a little by such an insipid performance. In a topsy-turvy season, the Cats just threw another wrinkle into the mix, and though we had some questions answered about Geelong, we now have more questions to ask about the Power.

So, with that brilliant little segue, let’s launch into our big questions stemming from the Geelong v Port Adelaide clash.

 

HOW DID GEELONG CONTINUALLY MANUFACTURE ONE-ON-ONE CONTESTS FOR TOM HAWKINS?

It would be easy to point the finger at Tom Clurey and state that he was slaughtered in his one-on-one contest with Tom Hawkins.

Look, he was. It was a massacre 15 metres out from goal, but there is blood on the hands of Ken Hinkley, Tom Jonas, Trent McKenzie and anyone else who fumbled and bumbled their way around the Port Adelaide defence in this game. Clurey was given no help whatsoever in his battle against Hawkins and was often left to contend with the best forward in the game despite being out of position and out of ideas as to how to stop him.

Overpowered early and often, alarm bells should have been ringing immediately for the Port coach. Surely they’d done their homework? Hawkins is the number one man in the league for goal assists and score involvements amongst forwards. When the ball touches his hands, good things happen for the Cats.

But no… Sam Mayes and Tom Jonas were off chasing around blokes like Gary Rohan and Patrick Dangerfield, leaving Clurey to be monstered by Hawkins metres from the goal line. Whilst it was great coaching from Chris Scott, it was a terrible effort from Ken Hinkley who could have (puts on Captain Hindsight outfit) dropped someone back to play directly behind Hawkins, forcing him to compete with two defenders every time. One, evidently, just was not enough.

At half time the score 27-12 in favour of Geelong. Of those 27 points, Hawkins was either directly responsible (19) or assisting (6) for 25 of them. How about some damn help?

Throwing Dangerfield forward really seemed to throw the Port defence off balance and what can sometimes be a hit/miss tactic from Chris Scott definitely hit on this occasion. Dangerfield drew Jonas and in the process, the Power lost their best help defender.

And Port lost the game as a result. You have to ask… did Hinkley not see this coming? Danger has pinch-hit forward all season!

 

WHY WERE PORT ADELAIDE UNABLE TO DO THE SAME FOR CHARLIE DIXON?

Because the Geelong defenders aren’t idiotic sheep that will simply fall into the plan you have for them. And because the Geelong defenders knew where 90% of the kicks inside 50 were heading – right to Charlie Dixon. They didn’t both chasing their less-threatening opponents on go-nowhere leads designed to clear space. They’re smarter than that.

I have zero intentions of bashing Dixon here – he was consistently hammered by two or three opponents in the air to the point I actually felt for him. There are some that will revel in the fact he could only manage two grabs for the game (none contested) and registered no goals from three disposals, but he was thrown under the bus by both a poor forward set up, with multiple teammates dragging their defenders to the contest, and some of the worst inside 50 delivery you’ll find from a team in the top four all year.

Harry Taylor refused to leave Dixon’s side, but it was the help defence – something that was non-existent in the Port Adelaide defence – that made Harry’s life easier.

Jack Henry was backing into Dixon in contests, Lachie Henderson refused to believe that Mitch Georgiades would provide anywhere near a legitimate threat, so he was never too far from the Dixon contest, and the Port midfielders refused to do anything but go long and high in the hopes Dixon would have a contested marking day out and save their bacon.

As much as I like bacon, the Port midfield’s was not worth saving in this game.

Zak Butters tried, but was well beaten by Mark O’Connor inside 50. He picked up some ball up through the wing and half forward, but not much in the range where he could be dangerous, and Robbie Gray looked like the player of a month ago as opposed to the bloke who found form last week. Credit Jed Bews there.

The difference between the forward lines was that the cats actively worked to free up space for Tom Hawkins, whilst the Power seemed to actively work to crowd the space for Charlie Dixon. Beating one man in a body-to-body contest is tough enough at this level. Beating three from one of the best defences in the land… that’s nigh on impossible.

 

WAS IT THE WORST NIGHT OF TOM CLUREY’S PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLING LIFE?

I don’t think I have ever seen Clurey so comprehensively beaten. As touched on above, he was hung out to dry by his teammates in his contests against Hawkins, but even after he moved onto less threatening targets, he continued to be beaten.

If ever there was a performance to shake your confidence, this one would be it.

Clurey has been fantastic this season as an unsung defensive pillar for the Power. Jonas has received most of the love, but Power fans have assured me that Clurey is held in the highest regard. He now has to be on a mission to redeem himself.

By my count, he was beaten in the air nine times in this game – seven by Hawkins, once by Rohan and once by Stanley. I really don’t know if he’s been beaten that many times for the rest of the bloody season!

It will be important that his teammates get around him this week and let him know that they well and truly let him down. He had four intercepts and seven spoils in this game, so there are 11 contests he either won or split, but in the context of this game, they will not be remembered. It’ll be the big grabs that were taken on him, and the goals kicked by his direct opponent.

He will need to put this debacle behind him quickly.

 

CAN MARK BLICAVS GO DOWN AS A GEELONG GREAT?

He’s sneaking up on it, believe me.

With two Carji Greeves medals in the bag, we could be seeing Blicavs on the way to picking up his third, yet some Cats fans still get a little down on him. I cannot understand why.

Whether he is playing defence, or making way for others to have their crack as part of the back six and playing on the wing, Blicavs’ ability to play both big and small continually creates mismatches all over the park.

Playing three positions in this game – wing, ruck and floating defender, Blicavs did as he pleased for most of the game, winning clearances, running to space and bringing teammates into the game. His tank is huge and he has no trouble putting distance between him and his direct opponent at stoppages in the back half, only to run forward and provide an option 60 or 70 metres away within moments.

Confession time – Blicavs was one of the players I kind of sneered at initially. He came into the league with that “former track and field athlete…” kind of CV, and I’ve often found that code/sport jumping athletes do not possess the ability to pick up the game. they’re athletes – not footballers. maybe that is the same opinion some of the Cats supporters have? But Blicavs has grabbed that opinion, turned it sideways and shoved it straight up… if you’re a wrestling fan, you know how the rest of that goes.

Here’s a list of three-time Geelong B&F winners.

Paul Couch

Patrick Dangerfield

Joel Selwood

Ian Nankervis

David Clarke

George Todd

Guys like Gary Ablett Jr and Polly Farmer have two apiece. The way Blicavs is travelling, he has a great chance to join the six blokes above this season. Of course, he’ll have to beat out the scoring-machine known as Hawkins to do so.

 

HAS DAN HOUSTON GONE A LITTLE BACKWARDS THIS SEASON?

The stats sometimes tell you one thing and you know you saw something completely different. His would be one of those cases.

The stats say that Dan Houston had 14 touches of the footy and ran at 71% for the night, but I thought his kicking was disastrous in this game. He showed none of the poise and composure he normally does, and continually missed targets, even when under minimal pressure.

He kicked out on the full under no pressure, turned the footy over with inboard kicks and basically looked like a man whose confidence in his skills had deserted him.

Ken Hinkley has been playing him off half back, but he was completely ineffective in this role tonight, missing targets and providing no run and carry at all for the Power. Between him and Darcy Byrne Jones, the Power got sweet FA from their running half backs, which put the half forwards under constant pressure to create something out of kicks that gave them nothing.

There was no hard run with the footy tucked under Houston’s arm. There was none of that from DBJ either. They were forced to contend with the defensive efforts of Gryan Miers, Lachie Fogarty and Tom Atkins all evening, and in the end those efforts were a bit too hot for the pair to handle.

 

WHERE DOES MARK O’CONNOR RANK AS A LOCKDOWN DEFENDER? AND JED BEWS TOO, WHILE WE’RE AT IT?

Dan Butler last round, Zak Butters this round… who’s next?

Mongrel writer, Matt Oman was heard cursing loudly as Butters failed to have an impact inside forward 50 in this game, fearing his planned Butters fan page on Instagram won’t get the traction he wants. Chris Scott has been watching Port Adelaide quite intently and with O’Connor having great recent form, throwing him onto Butters whenever the young Power star ventured inside 50 was another huge win.

Butters had 12 touches but none close enough to goal to make a significant difference.

When O’Connor didn’t pick Butters up, the responsibility fell to Jed Bews, who also relished the opportunity to sink his teeth into a job on Robbie Gray. The result… Butters and Gray finished with a combined total of five touches inside 50 for no goals.

That is a solid day’s work for Messrs O’Connor and Bews.

 

HOW MANY PASSENGERS CAN YOU CARRY AGAINST THE CATS?

Evidently, none.

However, Port were forced to do so in this one.

How many Geelong fans were smiling as they watched Steven Motlop run around out there doing a whole heap of bugger all? Go on, admit it – you were rapt to see this bloke go a couple of years back, and now when he underperforms against you, you have this little knowing smile.

Xavier Duursma looks like he needs a week off. I am not sure he managed to cleanly glove one footy tonight. He was poor below his knees, too easily pushed out of the contest and looked timid.

But Duursma looked like Greg Williams compared to Sam Mayes, who had eight touches and looked about as effective as Joe Ganino’s open-neck pants at the Coffs Harbour forced celibacy club.

I could dive into a few more – Hartlett and Farrell chief amongst them, but it would be akin to flogging a dead horse. You know these guys weren’t up to scratch. If we named the bottom ten players on the park, I reckon Port would have eight or nine of them. Comfortably.

 

WHO DID THE JOB ON DARCY BYRNE-JONES?

Whilst the Port bigs had their hands full either chasing Dangerfield or Rohan around, and Tom Clurey will now be in the foetal position thinking about Tom Hawkins, the nullifying job on the run and carry of Darcy Byrne-Jones was carried out by…

… no one person in particular, actually.

Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

Several Geelong forwards took their turn in keeping an eye on DBJ and ensuring he didn’t get any space to take off with the footy under his arm. After a rewatch, Tom Atkins played the majority of the time opposed to him and did a great job, but Lachie Fogarty and Gryan Miers also took the responsibility of ensuring his influence was minimal.

Byrne-Jones had just ten disposals in this game – his lowest output for the season in what is an excellent sign for the cohesion of the Geelong small/mid-sized forwards. The way they coordinated their responsibilities when one went into the middle or ran into defence to help is a shining example of discipline amongst forwards. Let’s face it, forwards are usually the most undisciplined of players, but these blokes are going about changing that.

 

ARE GEELONG’S BACK SIX ACTUALLY GETTING BETTER?

It’s hard to imagine, but over the past couple of weeks, they have looked absolutely spectacular. They are interchangeable, cohesive and rarely lose a one-on-one contest. They allowed just two marks inside 50 all evening, which is miraculous, particularly when you compare it to what was going on at the other end of the ground.

Port’s key defenders are no slouches, irrespective of what you saw in this game. Jonas, Clurey and McKenzie have been excellent all season, but they ran into an absolute buzz saw in the form of Tom Hawkins and he cut them to ribbons. Throw in Gary Rohan clunking marks and the Port defence didn’t know where to run to help.

Port had just 16 disposals inside 50 all game. Their forwards were completely and utterly blanketed by the desperate Cats back six and were simply not permitted to contest in one-on-one situations.

The Power didn’t exactly aid their forwards by hack kicking it every chance they got, but Geelong were their masters in this one and in the last two weeks have come together as the unit that will underpin any Geelong surge toward a flag.

Do not underestimate the influence of Tom Stewart to this line-up. He is calm, collected and aware of what is going on around him at all times, and with Lachie Henderson a luxury to bring into this team as required, the Cats’ defence look as though they can handle whatever is thrown at them this season.

I’ll just add that most teams play six defenders, or maybe even five with a running half back doubling as a midfielder at times. Geelong played nine players who could legitimately lock down a defensive place in any team in the league. O’Connor, Henderson, Bews, Henry, Stewart, Taylor and Kolodjashnij with Tuohy and Blicavs playing further up the ground and ready to be called on if needed. That is quite amazing.

 

WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO MOVE TOM JONAS ONTO HAWKINS?

Were you scratching your head about this one as well?

It was obvious that Hawkins had Clurey’s number in this game, which was the complete opposite of the last time these teams met back in Round 14 last year. In that game, Clurey gave Hawkins a hiding, restricting him to five touches and no goals.

I reckon Hawkins may have tucked that performance away as inspiration.

When you look at it that way, you can start to understand why Hinkley stuck with Clurey – he’d seen him do the job effectively before, however I have to ask – how much help did he get in that game? The Cats stunk, and Tom Jonas was playing the role of contest killer as the third man up. He was kept a lot busier in this game, and the result was very different.

Given time over again, when do you make the switch of Jonas to Hawkins? For me, it would have been immediately after Hawkins’ third goal. He’d also marked and given one goal off to Tom Atkins by that stage, so he’d been in the thick of all the Cats’ goals. That would have been time to pull the trigger.

 

WAS BRANDAN PARFITT’S TACKLE ON KARL AMON THE TACKLE OF THE SEASON THUS FAR?

A picture says a thousand words, so I am not sure how much a video says. Take a look for yourself, but I don’t think I can remember seeing a better one this year. Parfitt has really become a great tackler this season.

 

 

WHO WON THE BATTLE OF THE WINGS?

You guys know we love a good wingman here at the Mongrel, and with Sam Menegola matching up on Karl Amon, we had the best winger in the game up against the Port star who is making great strides in the role.

Notch up another win for Menegola.

After both guys bounced out of the gates, Menegola continued his hard work all over the park. Both guys ran really hard defensively, and Amon did have a couple of tough chances to hit the scoreboard, but it was Menegola who notched a goal late in the piece to solidify his position as the best outside man on the ground.

For those interested, Menegola features heavily in our most recent weekly wingman rankings. It’s a members article and I reckon it goes alright.

 

WHY CAN’T BT AND BRUCE PRONOUNCE “MENEGOLA”?

I’ve had a few people comment over the journey regarding the standard of commentary in our game. Some have cracks at Bruce’s forgetfulness and penchant for asking questions constantly…  “that was a great kick… wasn’t it?” Others can’t stand Brian Taylor going off on a tangent about cars, or horses, or paddle boards. And then, there are others who cringe when Luke Darcy or Cameron Ling opt to offer bugger all insight and engage in banter that gives zero insight into the game we’re watching.

And then there are the times they mispronounce a name.

You look at Bruce McAvaney at the Olympics and you get surnames with as many letters in them as the alphabet and they roll off his tongue like he’s known them since they were kids. Yet Sam Menegola grabs the footy and both he and BT can’t pronounce the bloke’s name without adding an extra ‘N’ to it nine times out of ten.

These blokes are the prime time announcers in the biggest timeslot of the AFL week – the least they could do is get the poor bugger’s name correct!

Menengola… Menengola… geez boys, it’s  MENEGOLA! One bloody ‘N’. How hard is it?

I reckon they may have got a message in the earpiece at some point, because as the second quarter commenced, they actually started getting ti right, but it is a shithouse look for Channel Seven and should be addressed.

Oh, and memo to whoever hosts the All-Australian awards this year – pronounce it right. It’s Menegola.

Thanks.

 

IS CAM GUTHRIE THE MOST UNDERRATED MIDFIELDER IN THE GAME?

He’d have to be close. We all hear about Dangerfield, and yes, he was potent in this one… oh, wait on, I wanted to add about the commentators talking about his kicking in this one. yes, he has a couple of belting inside 50 deliveries, but he also hacked three or four in the first half – just horrible kicks. How quickly they forget!

Anyway, Guthrie is so underrated that I started talking about another player right in the middle of his bloody section!

If you need him to do a job, he does it. If he is allowed to roam around by himself, he finds plenty of the footy.he led all players on the park with 27 touches in this one and he is at the stage where you either start paying some attention to him defensively, or you pay for it.

 

IS THE SHORT TURNAROUND GETTING TO TEAMS?

Trick question!

No, it is evidently not, given Geelong played on Monday and the Power played two days earlier, giving them a six day break.

I know there is this feeling in the media that short breaks mean a hell of a lot, but it’s not like these boys are fronting up 48 hours later to go round again. The players who need to rest up and recover will do so. The ones who are younger and able to recover quicker will have light sessions, but anyone who has ever played footy knows that after you play on a Saturday, you usually rock up to training on a Tuesday ready to rock.

With the recovery these fellas have, a four day break is plenty as a one-off and any excuse that a team, an analyst or a supporter uses for the remainder of the season should be pointed in the direction of Geelong. They were supposed to be fatigued here. They were supposed to be worn down by two days less rest.

Instead, they were first to the footy, tackled in gangs and displayed a workrate that will embarrass Port when they view the replay.

Don’t give me this garbage about short breaks when a team can have one and perform like Geelong did tonight. They basically put paid to that theory in one clinical, meticulous display of football.

 

WHAT LESSONS DOES KEN HINKLEY TAKEOUT OF THIS?

Will dot points do, Ken?

Key defenders cannot get sucked up the ground

Charlie Dixon cannot be the only option inside 50 via long bombs on his head

Instruct your forwards to lay some blocks

Don’t trust Steven Motlop

Don’t underestimate the value Justin Westhoff can bring as a legitimate marking target.

If Darcy Byrne-Jones is getting attention, get Sam Powell-Pepper to lay a shepherd to free him up. If it costs a free kick, so be it.

Get Connor Rozee back… quick!

 

WHO WERE MY TOP FIVE IN THIS GAME?

This is a pretty easy one… until I get to the last one.

In no particular order, Harry Taylor was excellent, that Hawkins bloke can play a bit, Dangerfield was damaging, Blicavs was excellent and the last one… I am tosing up between a few but Cam Guthrie probably edges out Sam Menegola and Lachie handerson…

… but I have been known to change my mind.

 

AND FINALLY, WHERE TO NOW?

The Cats get Adelaide next week and could take the opportunity to introduce Josh Jenkins back to AFL footy, and to his old teammates in the process. I’m pulling for JJ to kick three if he gets a run.

The Power get to take on my Hawks, and they should redeem themselves. The Hawks are so up and down, it’d be just like them to turn it on against the Power and lose to the Crows two rounds later. If it happens, you heard it here first.

That’ll do me. If you have any questions of your own you’d like me to have a crack at, hit me up in the comments below and I’ll have a go. And if I can’t satisfactorily answer, maybe a fellow mongrel can. Cheers.

 

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