Geelong v North Melbourne – The Stuff

It was a dreary afternoon down at Kardinia Park. Or Alphabet Stadium for those who follow current trends, or Sleepy Hollow for those stuck in the past. Whatever you call it, North Melbourne headed down there not much hope at all, only a fool’s hope.

Both teams took conservative options for players on their list as the Cats held out Jeremy Cameron and “managed” Isaac Smith. Both Jake Kolodjashnij and Jed Bews went out injured and just happened to make way for two Irish boys in Mark O’Connor and Oisin Mullin. Of course, the Cats brought their Irish contingent in for this one. They just seem to do these things right every time.

Meanwhile, North Melbourne swung the axe, dropping Miller Bergman, Will Phillips and club legend, Todd Goldstein. Liam Shiels was also injured and George Wardlaw was also a late withdrawal, which was particularly annoying, as a Wardlaw v Atkins match-up sounds really juicy on a miserable Geelong day. But in their place, came Charlie Lazzaro, Flynn Perez, Lachie Young, Tristan Xerri and a kid named Cooper Harvey.

For this Mongrel, there were two major stories to the match, Zach Touhy breaking Jim Stynes’ all-time games record for Irish players and Cooper Harvey’s debut for his father’s club.
But enough preamble, let’s get into the stuff that mattered.


The Best Stuff


Zach Touhy

Touhy celebrated his game with an array of moments, and was probably unlucky not to get a free kick for tripping in front of goal late in the first quarter. He was given a few chances for a goal in the second quarter but missed one and couldn’t beat the wind for the required distance for the other. They searched for him uforward d again late in the game but it was not to be.

Touhy did get rapturous applause almost every time he touched the ball from an adoring Geelong crowd. Many having donned some sort of green to mark the occasion. His loudest cheer was reserved for his attempted Torpedo in the last quarter. The crowd caught on quickly and Touhy received a standing ovation at full back before launching a near trademark worthy mongrel torpedo punt.


Cooper Harvey

A great story starts a new chapter. Clubs manage this process so well these days and we got to experience the moment AFL Games record holder and North Melbourne legend Brent Harvey got to tell his son he was making his debut this week. The father-son tradition is one of the great traditions in Australian Rules Football. Sightly watered down and reduced due to fan and club whingeing alike, but it still holds a special place in the game.

Cooper’s debut was quite impressive all things being considered. Playing against one of the most consistent side in the competition on one of the toughest grounds in the league. Playing for a team that doesn’t have a lot going for it. Harvey took an incredible five contested marks and was a consistent link in North Melbourne scoring chains as he offered a solid option across half forward.


Gryan Miers

Not sure what the lowest goal tally has been for a small forward making the All Australian team, but Gryan Miers looks destined to test that stat. 110 score involvements for Miers and a league leading 28 goal assists, and yet only three goals to his name. He is currently the game’s best facilitator and assist player, so it will be interesting to see how the All-Australian selectors value that type of play versus just looking at goal tallies for players.


Tom Atkins

When I see Tom Atkins play I think of the Al Pacino speech in Any Given Sunday. That speech is about inches and what they mean in sport and life. The difference between winning and losing. Basically, Atkins is one of those players that is willing to die for that inch. In a game that was effectively over at quarter time, Atkins cracked in like it was still an elimination final. It is the reason Geelong fans have come to love him so much. Honestly, if you haven’t seen it, forget the rest of the movie, just search it on YouTube and view one of the all-time great sporting movie speeches.


The Good Stuff


Luke Davies-Uniacke

Had a forgettable moment in the first quarter where he didn’t go as hard as he could’ve but overall was very good for North Melbourne in this match. One of the few players, along with Bailey Scott, who looked up for the fight for the duration of the game. One of the few North players to win a clearance in the face of Geelong’s dominance and kicked a couple of goals as well.


Dwayne Russell Commentary

Honestly, just sit back and enjoy the wordplay. “Lazzaro the local, Ford, not a local but Ford’s are local” describing Miers actions as a “Beer Pong Kick”. The man is a gold mine. He may not be everyone’s favourite but he is one of the best callers in the modern game.


Ben McKay

For some reason McKay copped some flak for this game, but he genuinely beat Hawkins all things considered. Two of Hawkins goals came from a dirty bounce and a kick off the ground in the goal square and a ruck contest. Two things really outside of McKay’s control. You can try and say McKay should’ve been switched on to the one out of the ruck, but that is really on Xerri to hold his own and know what Hawkins is going to do in the ruck contest and allow McKay to play goalkeeper in defence.

All day on the lead McKay consistently outpointed Hawkins and read the flight of the ball. He was too quick and was not going to be outsmarted by the veteran. With possibly no Logue for a long time and McKay apparently considering offers, what is North Melbourne planning on doing for a key defender?


Tyson Stengle

Yes it was an easy kill, but you still have to land the blows. Stengle feasted on the hapless Kangaroos defence and found some much needed form. Having struggled to maintain the form of 2022 that saw him kick over 50 goals and earn an All Australian selection, Stengle has been resettling into this Cats team after a delayed start to 2023.


The Not So Good Stuff


Griffin Logue ACL

Very tough luck for Griffin Logue. Having a very solid first season for the Kangaroos after crossing from Fremantle and seemed to just slip in a patch of poor turf about 10-15 minutes into the first quarter.


Lachie Young – a bit rushed.

Seemingly unaware that there wasn’t a Geelong player within 10 metres of him, Young tried to rush a behind early in the third quarter, only to be pinged for it by the umpire. All young had to do was fumble or even just take a look around and realise the situation.


Luke McDonald What were you thinking?

Just a minute after Oisin Mullin had to be reminded that out on the full was free kick, Luke McDonald seemingly forgot that a mark also means that you get a free kick as calmly wandered into the Cats’ forward fifty after Brad Close had taken a clean mark and simply tackled him. No one knew why as there wasn’t any call of touched and no player was even near the kick. Just weird stuff from the North Melbourne captain.


Some Other Stuff


Ollie Henry

Very good game from O. Henry that could’ve been great if things had have gone his way just a little bit more. With four goals and some great marks. Henry seems to have really found his place in the Geelong forward line over the last month of football.


Nick Larkey

Larkey lost no admirers in this game. With very limited supply and high quality opponents on every line he did very well for his two goals and worked hard to present for most of the day. Really robbed himself with a poor shot in the second quarter after beating a couple Cats on the lead and turning for home on the fifty.


The Wrap

Geelong Cats

The Cats did what they needed to and got some players in form. They celebrated a champion’s milestone game in style and honoured the man who blazed the path for him. They put the Kangaroos out of the match with a blistering first quarter and cruised to victory after that. They now sit back inside the top eight for the first time since round 12 and the games don’t get any easier form here on out.

Next up is the Bombers in a big Saturday night clash back at Kardinia Park. There will be cries about fans being locked out, blah blah blah. The Melbourne clubs in the AFL are going to have to get used to travelling down the highway. The City of Greater Geelong and Victorian Government haven’t spent 20 years and $500 Million+ redeveloping this stadium for all of the good fixtures to be shunted up the highway to the big smoke.


North Melbourne

Outside of the debut of Cooper Harvey, there wasn’t much to smile about for North Melbourne. The injury to Griffin Logue a real low point as something Kangaroos could not afford. Then add the concussion to Jy Simpkin and things went from bad to worse. This is exacerbated by the fact that North Melbourne arguably had some real chances in the next two weeks. An off kilter Saints under the roof at Marvel before a trip west to play the Eagles. Let’s hope Brett Ratten can rally the team for a big few games that could define how this Kangaroo’s season is remembered..