Sometimes I’ll start to do these reviews and I can fill up each of the good, bad and ugly really quickly, but there are other times when I watch a game when the first section I go to is the questions.
And this game was the latter of the two. So much so that I’ve changed up the template to address the questions I had in-depth rather than just at the end of the review as I usually do.
We saw in the Essendon v Hawthorn game that teams are capable of getting on runs and completely overpowering their opponents, and whilst this Geelong comeback wasn’t quite as dramatic as the rolling Essendon second half onslaught, it demonstrated that one bad quarter doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.
Hell, it should have – the Dogs were all over the Cats in the first quarter. Their pressure was better, their delivery in close by hand was outstanding, and their willingness to run to position and receive was top-shelf.
And then it stopped.
No, it didn’t stop – it WAS stopped; stopped dead in its tracks, actually.
Geelong emerged from the quarter time break with a goal in mind. Patrick Dangerfield said it after the game – “two goals per quarter… it’s not rocket science.”
That’s all they needed – to outscore the Dogs by two goals each quarter and peg back that six-goal lead.
They did just that and a little bit more, outscoring the Dogs ten goals to three for the remainder of the game and in doing so, would have built on the belief that they are a team that can take a hit, pick themselves up off the mat and continue the fight.
Here are The Mongrel’s big questions stemming from the Cats’ great come from behind win.
IS PATRICK DANGERFIELD THE BEST CONTESTED BALL PLAYER IN THE GAME?
Hmmm, this is bound to annoy non-Geelong people, but if there was a loose ball on the deck 20 metres away and anyone else was matched up against Patrick Dangerfield to win it, would you bet against Danger?
Not the version we saw of him in this game, anyway.
I’ll tell you what – no one fights to regain his feet and dispose of the footy harder than Dangerfield. He had tackle after tackle laid on him in this game but can you remember an instance where he was taken to ground and didn’t find a way to either get to his feet and dispose of the footy, or work his arms free to get offload to a teammate?
I sure as hell can’t.
Over the past few weeks, it seems as though the established stars of the game have elevated their game. Dusty has been good for the Tigers, Bont had been good for the Dogs as well, and Danger was working into the kind of form that gets Cats supporters a little bit tight in the pants.
He had 19 contested disposals amongst his equal-season high 32 touches, and if you’re looking for where the Cats’ lift came from, look no further than Danger’s massive second quarter. He willed the Cats back into this one with a barrage of hardball wins and a desperation that could not help inspire those around him.
This is usually the role Joel Selwood has played over the years, putting the team on his back and working in and under to drag them back into the contest – god knows he has done it so many times against my Hawks – but this time it was Dangerfield doing the heavy lifting to ensure his team wasn’t going to go down without having a red hot go.
It just so happens that red hot go was a little too hot for the Dogs to handle.
SHOULD WE TIP OUR HAT TO JAKE KOLODJASHNIJ?
Did I spell that right? I don’t want to come across as an Eddie McGuire type here…
And yes, we should tip our hats to him. Last week, Mitch Wallis snagged four goals and was a real focal point for the Dogs as they disposed of the Demons. This week, he attracted the attention of Jake Kolodjashnij, and he played an inconsequential role as a result.
The Geelong defender with the horrible name to spell played a wonderful defensive game on the dangerous Wallis, limiting him to just six touches on the night. Wallis is a potential match-winner for the Dogs. He has hardly been beaten all season and has 20 goals for the season. He remains stuck on that amount this evening after Kolodjashnij completely locked down on him.
You won’t see many outlets praising the defence of Kolodjashnij, but holding Wallis so effectively deserves recognition.
WHY DID LUKE BEVERIDGE PERSIST WITH JOSH DUNKLEY IN THE RUCK?
Not only does he get soundly beaten and occasionally throw out of the way, it means that Tim English goes forward and gets to stand around doing a fair bit of nothing.
So in effect, having Dunkley contesting stoppages even when English is in the vicinity hurts the Dogs on two fronts.
Does Beveridge believe that English forward is hurting teams? He’s kicked four bloody goals for the year, Luke. He’s not a Matt Taberner-type figure up there, or Rowan Marshall. He doesn’t clunk big marks, and truth be told, he put down several definite chances in this game that screamed to me that he should be moved up the field.
In the second quarter, English returned stats of zero disposals and zero marks. Yep… goose eggs across the board as the Cats got on top at stoppages. Poor bloody Josh Dunkley, who is an excellent two-way running midfield, was thrust into ruck contests against Rhys Stanley and Mark Blicavs, who enjoyed shoving him out of the way.
Apparently some consider Beveridge innovative, but innovation is supposed to make things easier, isn’t it? I don’t know what this move of Dunkley into the ruck is supposed to be, but innovative wouldn’t be the word I used.
They’re words that are probably more like it.
The Dogs elected not to chase a second ruck this season. If this was their plan – to throw Josh Dunkley at teams, then it is about time questions started to be asked of those who made those decisions. In a word, it was dumb.
HOW DO TEAMS NOT KNOW WHAT TOM HAWKINS PLANS TO DO AT STOPPAGES INSIDE FORWARD 50?
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
It’s as though after every Geelong game, the coaching staff and players on the opposition teams have their memory wiped or something. You can bet your bottom dollar that when – not if, but WHEN Tom Hawkins takes the boundary throw-in or ball up inside attacking fifty, he will lean into his opponent, push off them and take clean possession. From there, chaos ensues.
How do teams not have a player designated to tackle him immediately? How do teams and coaches continually forget to allocate this role to someone? Why not have Ryan Gardner standing really close to the fall of the ball and when Hawkins grabs it out of the ruck – tackle him! Every time! Just wrap him up and don’t allow him to get the sneaky handball out or the quick snap at goal.
As Dangerfield said, it’s not rocket science – if you know it’s your job, do it!
Hawkins got rid of Tim English like a man swatting away an annoying fly and got a clean look at the goals. His shot missed, but right there was an opportunity that should not have eventuated.
AFL coaches, I know you don’t read this and I don’t blame you, but if someone knows one of them, for god’s sake get the word to them to have someone in a defensive role at every stoppage inside Geelong’s forward fifty to ensure Hawkins does not get to do whatever he likes to whoever stands opposite him in the ruck. It is happening so many times these days that it is completely embarrassing for the opposition.
WAS LACHIE HUNTER THE BEST WINGMAN ON THE PARK? COULD HE BE THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE?
Yes, to the first and sadly, we will not know the answer to the second one due to his suspension and self-imposed hiatus.
However, in the last three weeks, Hunter is sitting right at 26.7 touches per game and easily got the better of the Geelong runners in this one. It was his ability to find space and get the Dogs off and running that played a huge part in establishing the six-goal lead in the first quarter. Attacking the ball at both ends of the park, Hunter amassed nine touches and picked up a goal assist as he led Sam Menegola a dance.
That’s something I have not written about once this year – no one has really gotten the better of Menegola this season, but Hunter is something different, and when he is up and about, it generates enormous momentum for the Dogs.
After a terrible start (six touches with just two hitting the target) in the first quarter, Menegola was better, but he looked a little shell-shocked early due to the insanely hard run of Hunter.
I wonder how the Dogs’ line up may have fared with Hunter in the mix all season? He has been their most consistent mid since returning from some time off and looks to be moving beautifully.
I guess in regard to whether he could be the best in the league, it’s all guesswork. If circumstances were different, possibly, but as it stands, Hunter had a good game against the guys with the runs on the board this season. Menegola remains the best outside man in the game, despite how good Hunter was in this one.
DID TOM HAWKINS LAY A BLOCK ON ALEX KEATH IN THE LAST QUARTER, LEADING TO GARY ROHAN’S EARLY GOAL?
Well, Keath was slumped over on the ground as Rohan flew and clunked a mark 12 metres out to get the Cats off and running.
Keath appeared to have his eyes on the footy as he started his run back to the goal square, but Hawkins looked to simply hold his ground after positioning himself in Keath’s way.
Was it a block? Technically, yes. Would I have paid it? Probably not.
In a game where we are seeing less and less physicality, tonight’s game provided a fair bit. There’ll be a few sore and sorry boys back at the Cats’ hub this evening, and just as many in the Dogs’ camp, but Hawkins’ body contact on Keath was minimal. Yes, Keath went down and I am sure there are people who swear black and blue that Hawkins is a dirty so-and-so and that it should have been a free-kick against him…
Give it a rest. He held his ground, Keath wasn’t looking where he was going, and as a result he ended up on the deck. Play on.
ARE THE DOGS WASTING EVERYONE’S TIME WITH JOSH BRUCE THIS SEASON?
It really seems it.
At one point this season he bagged four goals in a game. Remember that?
You’d want to hope you remember, because the rest of his season has been completely forgettable. Here’s what the Dogs got from him this evening.
Six disposals, four marks and 0.2 return.
Bruce looks like he couldn’t even jump over a piece of paper at the moment. He is slow to the contest, looks lost once in the contest and at one point he lost sight of the ball as it bobbled around and it bounced off the top of his head. He was like a Three Stooges bit; only there was just one of him! And no one was laughing.
Not with him, anyway.
CAN THIS BE THE YEAR GARY ROHAN LAYS SOME GHOSTS TO REST?
Gary Rohan has had some shocking games over the journey. Just games where he has gone completely missing for the whole contest, and looking at his first-half numbers, I was thinking that we were about to witness another one of those games where cannot buy a disposal.
I mean, that’s what it looked like at that point. His half time numbers provided a good opportunity for a slow toddler to do some counting. Two touches and one tackle. Pretty educational stuff from Gary, but he is the kind of player that can turn it on for a quarter, or on this occasion a half, and make a huge difference to a game of footy.
Gary Rohan’s second half was Geelong pressure football at its absolute finest. His attack on the contest both in the air and at ground level spoke of a man determined to have an impact. Matched up on Ryan Gardner – current Bulldog whipping boy – Rohan gave angry Dogs fans plenty of ammunition as won big contests and became a decisive factor in the Geelong win.
How Gardner allowed him to get goal-side in their one-on-one contest at half-back, I’ll never know. Rohan was always going to leave him for dead if Gardner over-committed, yet he did… and Rohan tore away up the wing to gain the Cats 100 important metres at a crucial point in the contest.
Rohan finished with two last quarter goals and combined with Tom Hawkins to power the Cats home up forward, but it was his desperate lunging tackle on the slow-motion kicking action of Tim English that stood out. He won a free-kick and saved a scoring opportunity in the process, and his closing speed was electrifying.
I suppose the takeaway here is something coaches would be teaching kids all over the country except Victoria where everyone is locked down like prisoners in our own homes… just because you’re having a poor day doesn’t mean you cannot have an impact and be an important contributor. Rohan added four tackles and a goal assist to his evening as he demonstrated how important he can be to this Geelong team.
WHY DO TEAMS ATTACK TO THE POCKET AND PLAY FOR A STOPPAGE?
Oh man… one of my pet hates when watching a game of footy.
We know why they do it – it creates the forward stoppage and they like their chances to score from it.
A bloke bursts from the centre and the forward fifty is chaotic – the 6-6-6 rule ensures that, but as he reaches about 60 metres out from goal, he turns on a 45-degree angle and kicks to the pocket. We see a contest in the air, the ball is knocked out of bounds and the forwards actually applaud the bloke who kicked it because he created a forward half stoppage.
Do you know what would be better than a forward half stoppage? A mark. A goal. An opportunity to feed the big dogs that are plonked deep in attack. Instead, we get this… what would you call it… attack by defence?
Yes, these stoppages give the team an opportunity to lock the ball inside 50, but these kicks to the pocket drive me nuts. The AFL are trying to their best (and failing) to provide a product that allows for high scoring. The Dogs did it in the first quarter and then they couldn’t thereafter. They looked so terrified to kick to a contest at times that the boundary line became the best option.
So yeah… I just threw this question in there so I could vent. When one of the Dogs players did it in the third quarter, I groaned so loud that my missus thought something was wrong with me…
… something other than what’s normally wrong with me.
This is coaching in the modern game. Not playing to win – playing not to lose, and until coaches opt not to play that way, nothing the AFL implements will matter.
WAS TORY DICKSON A BETTER OPTION THAN BEN CAVARRA?
And if so, how lowly do the Dogs rate Ben Cavarra?
Dickson looked slow, out of shape and out of touch… both with the footy and with reality out there. Shouldn’t get a look in for the rest of the year.
People may argue that it was his first game back and that he will be better for the run. To that I will respond right now – he couldn’t get any worse.
IS CAM GUTHRIE THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE RIGHT NOW?
Do you know what I like about this bloke? His versatility.
You want him to play defensively? He will.
You want him to get in and get his own footy? He’ll do that too.
Lay tackles? Yep.
Win clearances? Yep.
When you play a game like basketball, a lot of the shooters need plays run for them to get the open looks, and then you have the guys who don’t need plays run for them. They’re the ones that get to the end of the game and the stat sheet says they had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and they did it without ever having much of the offence run through them.
That’s Cam Guthrie.
He scraps, runs hard, makes his own luck and when he touches the footy, he makes good things happen. His disposal quality on a couple of the late-game kicks was absolutely first class down the line, which was in stark contrast to the delivery coming to him several times during the game. For a while, it seemed as though if the Cats were going to miss a target, it was Guthrie they were going to miss.
He finished with 21 touches, four clearances and five tackles and must be sitting in the top handful of the Geelong B&F at this point of the season.
WAS HAVING ZACH TUOHY BACK ON THE GROUND A GAMBLE?
I really think this could have gone either way.
As it turns out, Tuohy was the one passing inside 50 to set up the Tom Hawkins goal that snatched the lead, but prior to that he was avoiding contact like women avoid Joe Ganino.
The sadistic side of me wondered why no Bulldog made the decision to test him out and drop a shoulder into him in a contest. Maybe that’s a little too old school to happen these days, but I tell you what – if I had been coaching the Dogs, I would have had Libba crunch him, just once and see if he stayed on. He looked sore and his actions were those of a man who was protecting himself first and going for the footy second.
It got to the point in the last quarter where he was sticking his foot in to toe-poke the ball rather than commit to the contest and I wondered whether he was going to be provide something or be a liability.
It turns out he provided something. And that something turned out to be the goal assist to hit the front.
So, yes it was a gamble. Tuohy was sore and didn’t want to be hurt again. If you watch a replay, you’ll see what I mean, but Chris Scott rolled the dice on the Irishman and he came through for him.
Gutsy effort to get back out there by Tuohy. Many others wouldn’t have bothered.
DOES JASON JOHANNISEN DO AS MUCH HARM AS HE DOES GOOD?
He seems to. Fumbles at crucial moments, missed goals… he would be infuriating to coach.
I saw some of the good he did as well – his kick to Bont in the first quarter to set up a goal was lovely and he laced out Josh Bruce (who, of course, missed) as well, but that goal he missed in the second quarter… 30-35 metres out after a 50-metre penalty – that could have broken a few Cats hearts.
He let them off the hook and that’s all the Cats required.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Both teams sit back and watch things unfold in Round 15. They’re two of six teams with the bye and the Dogs will be keeping a very close eye on results around them as this loss could see them end up staring down a huge task to make finals.
The Cats… well, they now sit equal with Port on top and would be feeling mighty fine about life. Their first game back is against the Bombers, whilst the Dogs return to take on West Coast
And that’ll do me. Got any big questions of your own? Feel free to add them in the comments below or as part of our socials and together, we’ll nut them out.
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