Geelong v Sydney – Carnage at Kardinia Park

The prelude to this game, this …. Grand Final Rematch was interesting for me, personally. I hastily did my tips early in the week, and Sydney seemed the obvious choice, right? To be fair, I’ve been on a large boat for much of the last two weekends, and haven’t seen lot of footy, but when I left Geelong were having the premiership hangover of all hangovers, and surely wins over Hawthorn and West Coast aren’t necessarily convincing of a return to form.

Besides, Sydney have a good record at Geelong and they’d want some revenge in the Grand Final rematch. Although, avenging a Grand Final loss with a Round Six game for four points could be seen as stumbling upon the murderer of your one true love and poking them gently with a sharp stick. But anyway, I was surprised when I looked just before the game that Geelong were favourites. Had they found some confidence in those wins? Had Sydney stopped playing good footy?  Was their backline too undermanned for the Cats? Or would their midfield be able to pressure enough, as is their style? Suddenly the questions poured in, and the game suddenly looked much more interesting than I had anticipated; it might be close; Geelong might win.

So naturally, I changed my tip and thank the footy gods for that because interesting… it was not.

Turns out Geelong had improved. They had awoken. They’ve taken a couple of Beroccas, eaten some raw egg, and done all the things they needed to do to get rid of this hangover and get back to what they do best: win games of footy. Maybe rounds 1-3 were more like pre-season games. They only lost four games last year; maybe they only want to lose three this year and decided to get them out of the way early. Who knows, but whatever they’ve done -it’s worked




Footy is a pretty simply game. Sure, there are some complex setups and defensive structures, and a few different ways to go about moving the ball but, ultimately, whether you’re 12 or 32 and earning a million dollars, the basics are the basics: Do whatever you need to do to win the ball and get it to a teammate who can get it through the big sticks. If you don’t win the ball, make it as difficult as possible for the opposition to do anything with it, so that they give it back to you. It’s a basic game, really. From the first few minutes, it was clear Geelong had got back to those basics. There was nothing fancy, which is not to say some of the kicks weren’t delightful; they just weren’t trying to be cute. They went hard at the ball, hard at their opponents, and demanded the footy from their teammates. Simple, simple stuff. They made it easy for themselves and difficult for Sydney.

As an English teacher, I am full of silly idioms I like to pass on to my students, and one of my favourites is If you think too hard, your brain falls out. Simply put, it means to trust your gut and stop worrying so much. Once you start worrying about making mistakes, and not being perfect, you end up not doing anything at all. No. It’s much better to trust your instincts, allow yourself to make mistakes and then fix them when you do. Take risks and be rewarded; think only about winning and winning will exist only in thought. If you need an example of overthinking versus just doing: See Fremantle’s game VS the Dogs.

And Sydney definitely got into their heads during this game. They won the first couple of clearances, but generally, they couldn’t win the ball with any authority, nor pressure their opponent to try win it back. They didn’t know whether to defend, attack, tackle, or chase. They tried everything – and in the end, achieved nothing. What resulted was Geelong waltzed the ball inside 50 and kept it there for much of the game. About halfway through the second quarter, the Swans were nine goals down, and the more they looked for answers the worse it was getting. Where the Cats were finding the first option and sticking with it, the Swans were often looking for the best option, which took just enough time for the best option to be removed.

There was a good half a quarter or so where Swans stopped thinking and starting doing, and it seemed like the second half could be much more competitive.  Their pressure lifted and, suddenly, they started winning the ball and moving it forward well. Funny that. They managed a few late goals in the second, then, in the third quarter, we got really good, proper, high-pressure footy!

It lasted about 10 minutes.

They weren’t doing well enough to score, but they were enough to match the Cats’ intensity and maybe turn the tide. Until they weren’t.

In a ten-minute clinic, the Cats piled on another five goals and the Swans whimpered a single behind. The Swans had put up a fight, briefly, but then lay over, got back in their own heads, and allowed the Cats to complete a pretty light training run for the remaining quarter and a half.




The Fox, the Hawk and the Jezza? Gazelle? (get a better name, Jeremy.)

Sydney put Robbie Fox on Hawkins and he couldn’t handle it, so they moved him to Cameron whom he couldn’t handle, so he went back to Hawkins. and so on. Look, I’m not gonna say he had ten goals kicked on him, but it felt like it at times. Hawkins, like Jezza, had his five. But it was so clinical, so… expected from him….that he doesn’t get his own segment.


Jezza you great Gazelle of a man, you.

Jeremy Cameron has one hand around the Coleman Medal this year, but if it wasn’t for Mr Daicos, he’d probably have a hand on the Brownlow too, such is the season he’s having.  Jezza is such a versatile player, he goes well beyond being a good forward. Genuine footballers who are also genuine athletes are rare, especially among the tall forwards. Gary Ablett Snr, Lance Franklin, Pavlich, and Richo (later in his career) all had the ability to play a range of roles, which just gives your team so many options. Got momentum? Throw him forward, and take advantage. Need Momentum? Throw him in the middle and get a bigger body around the contest. Can’t get it out of the backline? Throw him to halfback for your “Get out of Jail” marking option. Jezza finishes with his five goals, but importantly, he’s collected it 17 times and had his 384 metres gained. He’s on track for 100 goals, and I hope he gets it.



Logan, who I am assuming was doing a Macca’s run for most of this game

Conversely, at the other end, Logan McDonald was at having a game a little like his mate, Robbie Fox. When I looked at the stats, about halfway through the third, I noticed he had not touched the ball at all. He ended up with five disposals, but not a single one of them ended in a score involvement, which is criminal for a forward. If you’re only going to touch it a few times, you should be able to impact the game a little bit. Five kicks could end up with three goals, even if they’re off someone else’s boot. Let’s compare the pair:

– Hawkins: 8 Touches, 7 Kicks,  7 Score involvements, 5 goals, 365 metres gained, 8 pressure acts. Pretty good day out.

– McDonald: 5 touches, 0 score involvement, 1 tackle, 10 pressure acts.

I know he’s young, and he’ll learn, but if you can’t get yourself into the game, at least take your opponent out of it.  He may have had ten pressure acts (whatever that means) but Geelong, through Ratugolea and Kolodjashnij, just intercepted and rebounded way too easily.


Guess who’s back.

Back again

Sam Simpson’s back.

Tell people

who is he

Because it’s a great story. Sam Simpson made his return to AFL footy in this one. He had a terrific 2020 finals series, and then a series of concussions kept him out of the game for all of last year and all but four games the year before. He had a standard game, a couple of goals, and contributed well. Nothing to write home about, but simply getting back to footy after significant concussions and having a reasonable game is, I think,  a win worth celebrating.



The first game in Geelong was pinned for this week, purely to unveil their new flag in front of 40,000 fans sitting in their nice shiny new stand. They planned everything beautifully (including winning the flag), but it was stolen away from them, as they’re still waiting on the metal to arrive. Bummer.



Much gets said about ruckman, and a good ruckman can swing a game. There are few things aesthetically pleasing then a beautiful tap to a rover running past who hits up their full forward. Or better yet, goals themselves. With Stanley a late out, however, Geelong’s rucking was left to Blicavs and De Koning, who in fairness, aren’t ruckman. This allowed Ladhhmas to have a nice day out, winning 28 (only 28?) taps, which really went nowhere. Because when you don’t have a dominant ruckman, you can rely on sharking the opposition ruck, or your ruck putting in enough pressure to just make those clean taps a little less frequently. Then, with those more mobile options, Blicavs and Dekoning can be- and were- a lot more damaging around the ground.

Now Ladhams had a good game. He got his 14 touches, four clearances, and contributed around the ground well enough, but he just did not take the opportunity to dominate the lesser rucks around him. Some of that is inexperience, but it’s almost as if you don’t have a dominant ruckman who’ll win 40 or more taps and go forward and kick a goal, or get your 198cm midfielder who can jump a bit, and use him instead. Because you’ll get more Bang for your Buck.



There was a great moment in the third quarter where Dangerfield, going hard for the footy, lay a beautiful, old-fashioned bump, sending his adversary out of the screen like he was an under-18 playing his first game of seniors. And I thought how good is this? The bump is not dead. And here’s a beautiful example of it.

Then poor Robbie Fox, already having a rough night, half ran half slid for a ball and was cleaned up by Duncan running past. Fortunately, Fox could continue after being cleared of concussion, but it looked bad. It looked initially like he’d legged Duncan. Then it looked like one of those real late bumps. By about the 4th slow-mo replay, common sense had kicked in, and it was clear Duncan could not really do much. Both were going for the ball. Fox was going a lot faster, a lot lower, and the ball was wobbly. His bump was one-third bracing for impact, one-third going for the ball, and one-third setting up for the bad bounce to not got past him; importantly, both eyes were on the football. Hopefully, this one goes down as a football incident, but it shows just how close the line is between a good bump and a bad one.


Paddy Dangerfield

He did what Patrick Dangerfield does. This was about as complete a game you’d see from the Geelong star at this stage of his career. A goal, 31 touches, and 600m gained. He was absolutely everywhere, barrelling through contests like he was 26 again. What’s impressed me about Dangerfield over his career, is that he’s built the size to be a genuine inside midfielder but he’s never lost an inch of pace. Often players who are quick get big, and lose some of their run but not Danger, and he was in full flight and full truck mode tonight. It was a beautiful performance to watch.


WHO Have I missed and what else should you know

  • Sydney’s Matt Roberts did his knee early and was subbed off.
  • Luke Parker played well, as he does. A lone battler in a team of not-battlers.
  • I really like Max Holmes’ game. He uses the ball so well, so efficiently. An absolute weapon when he’s at his best, which we was in this game.
  • The Swans’ 0.1 third quarter was their worst third quarter since their Grand Final offering of 0.1. The Cats kicked 6.2 tonight and 7.2 then. Premiership quarters, hey?




It was a 93-point, 130-37 drubbing, which saw no Sydney goal for a little over two quarters of football. More importantly, the Cats made a genuine announcement to the rest of the competition that they are Geelong and that they are, in fact, the greatest team of all. I don’t know if that’s historically true, but it’s the first two lines of their song, and it’s the best opening of any song. Ever.



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