R6 – Geelong v Brisbane – The Prophet’s Perceptions

The Prophet’s Perceptions


Coming into Round Six, the Brisbane hype train was chugging along nicely, having previously dispatched the Demons at the MCG, while the undefeated Cats were being considered the softest 5-0 side ever. Would that ring true at the GABBA? Or, would the Cats be able to inflict another home defeat upon a Lions side striving to recapture their form of last year? I’m the Prophet, and these are my Perceptions.


New Cement Head

Giants star Callan Ward has been dubbed cement head for most of his career. Why? Because of his willingness to stick his head over the footy and win a hard ball – plenty of current players could learn a thing or two from this. However, I think the moniker of cement head has found a new owner, in Lions youngster Kai Lohmann.

I feel bad making fun of concussion, but Lohmann survived two head knocks, McInerney and Stewart didn’t. Lohmann was present in a number of big contests, and his head got hit front and back. He got back up both times and kept harassing and chasing. The two players who were exited from the game had a big impact on their respective sides, however, it was the Cats who were able to structurally cover this loss better.


Midfield Renaissance

Coming into this one, Brisbane were rated #1 for clearance differential, Geelong were at the other end. The Lions were brutal early. Registering 2.2.14 while the Cats collectively had three disposals. However, the Cats started the grind and gradually worked their way back into the game, and brought the clearance differential numbers much closer together.

The ruck battle definitely had a say in this, primarily with Oscar McInerney being subbed out with concussion. The Big O isn’t one of the household ruckmen you read about from the experts, but he is vital to how the Lions play the game. He helps their structure, and he regularly gives the Lions mids first look at the footy. Toby Conway was in game number three, and while he was competitive, it did seem that Oscar had his measure for much of the first half. However, Conway was able to take over around stoppages, giving Cats players good looks at first use of the ball. This helped to extinguish some Brisbane momentum, and give the Cats a chance at building their own.

Neither midfield is super quick as a collective, however, they do have burst players and outside speed. The Cats were able to maximise this the most, which is probably a big factor in them outscoring Brisbane 38-11 from the back half, and 36-15 from turnovers, while leading the inside 50s by seven. It was the Cat’s ability to transition in the wet that ultimately got them over the line.



This was evident from both teams. The Cats made it hard for themselves early with some lazy tackling, and poor decision-making – both with the ball, and without it. This gave Brisbane significant momentum for stages during the game. Geelong were able to rectify this, but they wouldn’t want to put themselves in positions like this again, giving away cheap entries and cheap scores, especially against some higher ranked sides.

The Lions weren’t immune to this, either. Their ill-discipline proved costly and changed momentum in the second half, bringing Geelong back into the game. They opened the door, and the Cats stormed right through it. There’s nothing wrong with playing angry, or there being some heat between two sides (and there’s plenty of spice with the Cats and the Lions), but you need to regulate your emotions in a way that doesn’t cost your own side.


Setting the Game Alight

Tyson Stengle has rediscovered his 2022 AA form and proved a class above. He was clean in the conditions and showed out in his 50th game in the hoops.

It was Stengle and the other small forwards for the Cats who were able to get goal side of their opponents, and when the ball was kicked over the Lions defensive line, their leg speed would beat the defenders to the ball. The Cats small forwards are crafty, and none of them shy away from physical contact and were very clean.

While he played as a mid, but Parfitt’s crumbing goal from a F50 stoppage in the fourth quarter was masterful. Hit the ball at speed, outworking his opponent, snapped, and pretty much broke the resistance.


You Don’t Mess with the Zach!

The junior of the two Guthries on the Geelong list – Zach – is having a fantastic season thus far. He would be firmly in the AA squad of 40 at the moment, and you see him grown in confidence every time he walks out onto a football field. He led all-comers with 737 metres gained, five inside 50’s, eight intercept possessions, and 21 disposals.


Defensive Anchors

It’s never an easy day at the office when your key defensive pillars look at the teamsheet of the opposition and see Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins listed. However, Jack Payne now has some seriously good exposed form against the Tomahawk. This is not the first time he’s held the big Cat goalless.

And in terms of Cameron, he’s a nightmare to matchup on. Ryan Lester did a fantastic job with his positioning, ability to close space, and he didn’t make it easy at all for Cameron on the night.

It’s worth highlighting that while there were some defensive lapses and structural challenges for the Lions, in the pure man-on-man stakes, both Payne and Lester (that combo sounds like a law firm) were very good in their individual roles.


What Did We Learn?

Lions – have the Lions become a little bit too one-dimensional? Are they a bit too predictable? This week probably isn’t as cut and dry as most due to the monsoonal weather greeting the sides, but we are seeing a trend with the Lions. If they don’t dominate around the ball, and if they can’t keep possession, they struggle. They play skinny football – they try to keep possession in specific channels that, for sides with a good defensive structure, is easy enough to harass and pressure.  Is it personnel? Is it coaching? Whatever it is, they need to sort it out fast. Their season is unravelling quickly. Without some kind of dramatic circuit breaker, finals could be a tall order.


Cats – some are still yet to buy into the Cats as a contender in 2024. They speak of a soft draw, of the teams they’ve beaten not being great, etc. It’s monotonous dribble that screams tall poppy syndrome. Their system is strong, they have unearthed some talented young players, and they keep on keeping on. Where do the Cats sit in the scheme of things in 2024? We know flags aren’t won in April, but you can set your season up then. And the Cats are building a fantastic foundation for what’s to come.


Other Bits

Cam Rayner needs to keep his cool. He has so much talent – I love watching him in full flight – but he lets his emotions get the better of him.  A dumb free kick in Q4 – Geelong laid a tackle, Rayner dragged Cats player off the ground and slung him down. Also kicked another later in the term. Little things like that creep in when he’s frustrated, and it gets in the way of the player he’s becoming.

Holmes rising value. Continues to show his worth. Cats fans hoping he signs sooner than later.

Toby Conway took a towering intercept mark in Q4. Lions with a few repeat entries, he drifts back, and cleanly clunks a beauty. He showed a few weeks against the Hawks – again in the wet – that he possesses very clean hands in challenging conditions for a guy of his size.

Josh Dunkley had a lot to say about umpiring interpretations during the week, so he needed to back things up during the game. He was good. Not his damaging best, but early in the contest, he was brutal around the stoppages. He finished with 26 disposals, 6 tackles, 14 contested possessions, and six clearances.

Jack Bowes re-deployed behind the ball after Tom Stewart was subbed off. He continues to grown, and show what he can be as a footballer. As his consistency comes, and his development progresses, it becomes even more evident as to how much that future third round pick for him was daylight robbery.

Dayne Zorko is a serial pest, but he’s a damn good footballer. Zorko led the way for the Lions with two goals from his 26 disposals. He finished with 641 metres gained as well, showing the benefit of experience in these conditions, and recognising the need to move the ball forward – in the wet, it’s a territory battle.

Cats win without Jez and Hawk doing much. This was their 62nd game together, and the first time they’ve both been held goalless; I feel like that makes their win even more impressive. In fact, Hawk’s 100m penalty was bad. His Q4 torp marked by Stengle helped to rectify a little bit. Hawkins has had some big games already, but in heavy conditions, it looks like he is struggling more than he ever has. I expect more rests for him when it’s wet.


Well, the Cats win again and go to 6-0, meaning they are the last undefeated team standing. The Lions have now lost three from three at the GABBA and really need to get their game in order if they are going to feature at the pointy end this year. As for next week, the Lions travel to the nation’s capital on Thursday night for a special ANZAC Day night match, while the Cats host the Blues at Carlton’s home ground in the twilight Saturday fixture, a must watch for fans of football in general.


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