In a game of swinging momentum, it was the Cats who flew in, raided the Adelaide Oval and ran out of there with a 21-point victory on the back of their “big three” forward line and some fantastic intercept work from their defence.
As we ticked into the final quarter, the Power made their charge, but the Cats were able to, not just withstand the onslaught, but rally and hit back with a blistering surge, led by three last-quarter goals to Jeremy Cameron.
Geelong now find themselves sitting pretty… or at least as pretty as a team of ordinary-looking blokes can be, inside the top four, whilst Port is left to ponder just how far they can go in 2021 when they cannot knock over good sides at home.
Yes, yes… they beat Richmond there, I know.
Plenty to get through in this one – let’s jump into The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER
Yes, we all know they kicked 12 between them again, but there is one aspect I want to single out above all others in this section, and that is the work rate of Gary Rohan.
As he kicked his third for the game, I could not help but smile. I know he has these games where he goes missing and, sadly for Gary. He has had a few of them in huge games at the pointy end of the season, but I will never, ever doubt the effort he puts in without the footy.
His willingness to run and chase, to work hard up to the middle and then sprint back inside fifty, and then to put pressure on the exiting kicks was elite – absolutely first-class. He’ll head home when the Cats get back home and his high-profile teammates will get a ton of credit – with Jeremy Cameron kicking five and Tom Hawkins kicking four, but I loved the work of Rohan in this one – he just refuses to stay remain out of the contest.
A little tip of the hat here to Chris Scott – he played Rohan on the mark for kick-ins, which given Rohan’s closing speed, severely limits the ability of the opposing defender to play on from the goal square and be creative. I have watched Simon Goodwin do the same thing with Kosi Pickett, and to have someone with genuine leg speed standing the mark is a really intelligent move. Looks like it’s catching on.
But back to the big blokes.
Cameron was a monster, kicking the first of the game as Tom Jonas threw himself at his legs in a smothering attempt. The impact and fall from Cameron looked nasty, but luckily the prized recruit was able to get up and continue.
His three goals in the last quarter were the killing blows to the Power who had thrown down the gauntlet. Cameron picked it up, slapped Port across the face with it and then ran them through with repeated shots at goal that acted as daggers to their heart.
And then there is Tom Hawkins… I actually thought Trent McKenzie, despite being overmatched, did a pretty good job on him, but then we look at the Tomahawk finishing with 4.4, having 11 score involvements and taking eight grabs and you realise that Hawkins continually does the things that other forwards do not do.
Yes, at the other end, Charlie Dixon doubled Hawkins’ contested marking numbers. Was he more influential? Not by a long shot. Whilst Dixon battled manfully in situations where he was outnumbered, Hawkins positioned himself perfectly to capitalise on the stretched Port defence, and used his clearance work to set up his teammates, as usual – his tap to the running Jeremy Cameron to set up a goal in the last quarter was picture-perfect.
There would be plenty of coaches watching this game and seeing how the Cats handled the Port defence. They’d be taking notes and looking for answers, because when you have Cameron, Hawkins and Rohan working as cohesively as they did in this one, they are going to take some stopping.
Port started the last quarter like a house on fire.
I’m not quite sure what that means in a footy context, as they weren’t rolling on the ground trying to extinguish the flames, but in the clearances, they did get down low and go, go go!
With three goals to open the quarter, it looked as though the home ground, a renewed belief and all the momentum would see Port overrun the Cats.
And then Geelong simply shook their heads. Not today. Not this game. Not is we have anything to say about it.
Geelong kicked five in a row to not only snatch back that elusive bloke name Mo Mentum, but they put their arm around him, bought him a couple of drinks and had their way with him. And Mo felt pretty satisfied with the way things turned out.
A lesser team would have capitulated as the Power roared back into the contest. Port’s prime movers started getting the mitts on the footy – Wines, Boak, Amon, Houston… they started to force the ball forward almost by sheer force of will, resulting in hitting the lead, but the way Geelong stood their ground, fought back and won the ball from the centre on consecutive occasions completely demolished the belief that Port had just found.
The Cats matched them at the coalface and started to win their own footy. Brandan Parfitt injected himself into the action, Joel Selwood did what Joel Selwood always does and dragged his team along with him. It was a powerful display of resilience from the Geelong Football Club that demonstrated that they have learnt how to conduct themselves when the pressure is turned up.
They have had to learn that the hard way over the last couple of years, and Richmond has been a very harsh teacher, but the Cats looked to have taken those lessons to heart. In a game that felt like a final, the Cats stood up to the finals-like pressure and turned the blowtorch on their opponents.
And this time, it was their opponents that could not stand the heat. It is a performance that may very well hold them in good stead in around three months or so…
TOM F’N STEWART
I’m not sure I have ever seen this bloke cleanly beaten over the course of a complete game. I will happily admit to not watching every game he’s played, but if one of you can direct me to an occasion where Tom Stewart is flat out beaten by his opponent, I am happy to track it down and take a close look.
Every time I have watched him go about it, he always emerges looking like the winner in his individual tussle.
This game was no different – Stewart started on Robbie Gray, who moved through half forward and up onto the ball at points. Gray is at his best when he can attack the ground ball, so seeing the Power kick to him in the air would have made Stewart smile widely. Unlike so many defenders, who turn away from the footy to watch their opponent, and in doing so concede the contest, Stewart keeps his eyes on the prize.
I reckon he’d make a fortune off those street hustlers in New York who try to trick you with the shell game. Which one did I put the pea under… keep your eyes on it.
By about the fourth time, the bloke would move Stewart on – “you can;t play this anymore… you’re too damn good!”
Stewart didn’t play on Gray all game – he ended up rotating over to help on Charlie Dixon, and was the Cats’ main weapon to run and carry from defence. He is everything you want in a half back flank, and if you’re throwing together your rolling All-Australian team at this point of the season, and you don’t have Tom Stewart in the team, I really don’t know what to say to you.
THE KID IS BACK!
Ah yes… welcome back, Connor. We’ve been expecting you.
Rozee’s first quarter blast had the crowd buzzing as the enigmatic Port star reminded his home fans of just how potent he can be up forward.
Gifted Port’s first goal of the contest after Todd Marshall was concussed in a marking contest, Rozee looked to have a spring in his step, and went on his merry way, slotting three more for the term as the Power rebounded from a bit of a slower star to head into quarter-time with the lead.
With Orazio Fantasia and Zak Butters out of the side, and Robbie Gray spending a bit of time in the guts, Rozee’s pace off the mark, and sudden changes in direction troubled Zach Tuohy, with the Irishman unable to keep up and corral him when the ball hit the deck.
Rozee’s season has been on a slow burn. A foot injury early in the season saw him sit out, then a heavy knock to his quad left him looking sore for a couple of weeks, but this version of Rozee is the one Port fans have been patiently, and impatiently waiting for, His hands were clean, his movements crisp and his goal radar was back on song.
After one goal in his previous five games, Rozee finished with five for the game, matching his career-high in the process. With Fantasia at least a couple of weeks away, and the injury cloud hovering over Butters getting darker the longer the season progresses, Port are going to need their young star firing if they plan on making some noise in 2021.
This was a great first step.
And just after I wrapped up the work of Rozee, a bit of a pat on the back for his opponent through the final three quarters.
Jed Bews, for whatever reason, did not start on Rozee. Maybe Chris Scott was cheating a little, thinking that Rozee’s recent run of poor form didn’t warrant using his best small defender? Or maybe he just had a bit of faith in Zach Tuohy.
Regardless, but the time the first break rolled around, something had to be done, and our old mate, Jed… who has names such as Charlie Cameron, Eddie Betts and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti as previous victims, rolled up alongside Rozee and decided to put a stop to the rot.
After four first quarter goals, Rozee troubled the goal umpire just once after quarter time, the strong-bodied Bews positioning himself beautifully to take away Rozee’s run at the contest, and ensuring that he was able to maintain contact with the fleet-footed forward at most contests.
It was a nice reminder of what Bews is capable of when he sets his mind to something, and if there is a good small forward on any opposing team, I really have no idea why you wouldn’t just send Bews to him right away.
The man just gets the job done.
LET’S KICK IT TO RILEY AGAIN?
The inboard kicks in the last quarter were gutsy, and Port were obviously being directed to take the game on and open up the ground as much as possible in the last quarter, but tired legs and long cross-ground targets are great when they come off…
… and when they don’t, they’re not so great at all.
Unfortunately for Riley Bonner, he was playing on the far wing, and twice on the switch he was forced to hang out under a slow ball into the centre, with Cats converging from all over.
Credit to Bonner, he did not flinch on either occasion, but the Cats were prepared and as the ball hung in the air, you just got this feeling that these kicks, as gutsy as they had to be, were just not going to pay off.
Sometimes fortune favours the brave, but I can guaran-damn-tee you that it does not favour the silly, and those kicks back onto the middle, with Geelong players swarming only served to further swing momentum in the Cats’ favour.
Isn’t it amazing how we just accept what we once pretty good, hard tackles as being dangerous, these days?
A bloke gets taken to ground, has the stuffing knocked out of him, and panicky idiot one, two or three blows the whistle immediately and runs in to reward the bloke who basically got caught with the footy.
It happened twice in this game – one each way, but the one that pissed me off the most was when Brandan Parfitt nailed Kane Farrell with a driving tackle that really took the wind out of the Power player’s sails.
The umpire explained that Parfitt lifted his opponent into the air and drive him into the ground. Yep, he did… just like you do when you need to take someone off their feet.
Farrell got up, took his kick and, obviously still feeling the effects of the tackle, quickly turned the footy over and Geelong kicked a goal through Cameron – his fifth, and the game was over.
I am sure there are champions of this tackling crackdown, and I am sure you will let me know in no uncertain terms how irresponsible it would be to allow players to be out there driving each other into the ground with reckless abandon…
… but that would be hyperbole, wouldn’t it?
When there is a legitimate dangerous tackle – one that smashes a bloke’s head into the ground on purpose, by all means, throw the book at them and trot out the “duty of care” line til the cows come home, but don’t guess at it just because someone tackles hard. That’s not what you’re there for, and that’s not the way the game should be played.
Now, I’ll just grab my club, go home to my cave and try to work out this thing you civilised people call fire.
Was it just the two 50 metre penalties against Charlie Dixon for abuse in this game?
That’s okay, right? I mean… he was frustrated. He wasn’t having things go his way, and he needed to vent his anger at the umpires. We should give him a pass, right?
As big, bad and angry as Charlie is, when you’re out there screaming and swearing at umpires, I am sorry, but you come across like a petulant child. Dixon is anything but – he is a man-mountain and his towering presence inside 50 almost saw Port able to run over Geelong early in the fourth quarter, but his undisciplined actions hurt his team and allowed Geelong passage out of defensive fifty without having to work for it.
One time, he was angry at the umpire and the free kick wasn’t even against him – he gave away the fifty for abuse in a situation where he didn’t actually know what he was talking about!
Dixon’s hands were good in this one. I can see why he would have been upset, as the Geelong defence consistently collapsed on him for the entire first half, and his teammates kept bloody kicking it to them, meaning he had to fight past the efforts of his own direct opponent to make a contest, and it proved too much in just about all those instances.
So yeah, you can see why he was frustrated, but how does abusing the umpire help in any way, shape of form?
Short answer – it doesn’t, and at 30-years-old, Dixon should know better by now.
WHAT IS THE ONE ASPECT OF PORT’S GAME THAT IS MOST WORRISOME?
It’s not news – it is the over-reliance on Charlie Dixon to be the man inside 50. I know Todd Marshall went down like a sack of… spuds in the opening minutes, and the Power have high hopes for both him and Mitch Georgiades, but geez they’re missing a bog body who can crash packs and help Dixon out.
Georgiades could be really good, but he is 19 years old, and he is not ready to be the standout second marking forward just yet. That is supposed to be Marshall, and whilst I know it is harsh to assess him on this game given the knock he took, I am not sold that he has the physicality to pull that role off.
He still looks like a Mr Puniverse contestant.
Marshall is 22, stands 198 centimetres tall and weighs 90 kilos. He is 16 centimetres taller than me and weighs five kilos lighter. Either I am a really fat bastard, he is a really skinny bastard, or there is a bit of truth in each of those statements. The only issue is that I don’t need to be able to hold off 100kg defenders to write these articles.
WHO MAKES WAY FOR CAM GUTHRIE?
Someone will be unlucky, but who???
There are some who think Brad Close or Luke Dahlhaus will be most likely to have a “rest” next week, but I am not sold on what Shaun Higgins is providing at Geelong this season at all. He is so far removed from the player they envisioned getting, and I reckon you can see that he looks as though he is losing confidence in his ability to impact games.
At the moment, he looks timid and a bit reluctant to play his natural game. Maybe he is being instructed NOT to play his natural game?
Anyway, I would not surprised if Higgins is “managed” for a week or so.
HOW DID DANGER GO?
He won’t be counting this amongst his best games, that’s for sure, but he was pretty damaging in the last quarter when the Cats dropped the hammer, and looked to have a bit left in the tank.
Danger may take a couple of weeks to find his groove, but unlike other seasons, the Cats seem really well poised to cover him as he finds his feet. He finished with 18 touches and seven clearances in his return, and you’d tick this off as a success.
WHO WON THE TRAVIS BOAK V MARK O’CONNOR BATTLE?
O’Connor was on top early, really clamping down on Boak in the second quarter in particular. The Port star had just eight touches to halftime, but after several weeks on the sidelines, the work ethic of Boak worse O’Connor down to the point he was trailing Boak around, rather than running shoulder to shoulder with him.
Boak wins the war, fighting through the tag to register 19 second-half disposals and record 27 for the game. O’Connor had 13, unable to match the fitness base 13 rounds of AFL footy provides.
HAS ALIIR ALIIR FALLEN OFF THE PACE A BIT?
He was the toast of the town six weeks ago, but in watching him in this game, some of the lustre is wearing off.
His ball use was terrible, he mis-read several long balls inside 50, and looked a bit lost with the Cats having too many options. He was supposed to be the floater, slotting in and picking off the rushed kick forward, but at times found himself one-on-one with Jeremy Cameron… and that spells trouble.
Whilst his eight intercepts tell you he was effective enough, there were some glaring errors in his game against the Cats, and it will be well worth watching how he goes in a couple of weeks’ time against the Swans, particularly if Heeney and Franklin are both up and firing.
Steven Motlop’s miss (and boy, it was a BIIIIG miss) had a huge impact on this game. Geelong were really getting on top in the third quarter, and Motlop had a chance to halt their momentum. His kick at goal from 45 out missed everything by a good 20 metres as he put together perhaps his worst game of the season.
Port actually bookended a Gary Rohan Goal with that abysmal shot from Motlop, followed by another miss, this time by Georgiades. Meanwhile, Rohan’s little shimmy and snap around the corner at the other end was exquisite. Chance like those make a huge difference.
Kane Farrell’s goal… fucking wow!
If that were Eddie Betts, people would be calling it the goal of the century, but it’s Kane Farrell, so I just hope it gets nominated for goal of the week! No way you get a left foot banana from the pocket to bend that way… it almost defies physics!
The Cats and Dogs tangle in what should be a mouth-watering contest next Friday. They’re saying it’ll be at Kardinia Park at the moment – let’s hope Victoria can get their shit together so that actually happens.
Meanwhile, the Power head to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns in what now looms as a danger game. Port are better than a team bound to reside in the bottom half of the eight, but they need to start proving it. They have to beat the Suns and then stand up against the Swans the week after at home.
And that’ll do me – another successful trip down memory lane… because I was remembering the game that finished just an hour or two ago…
Ah yes… memories. Thanks to our awesome members for their support, and for enabling all this to happen. You’re greatly appreciated.