Usually at The Mongrel, we go the Good/Bad/Ugly type of review, but in viewing the fantastic West Coast victory over Geelong, we found that there was simply too much good to focus on the other areas.
As such, here’s the Mongrel’s Good, Great and Brilliant of the clash out West.
TEN MINUTES OF TOM HAWKINS
No, it’s not some terrible teen band put together by the producers of Australian Idol looking for a heart throb with a mouth too big for his face. This is about a power forward taking the game by the scruff of the neck and shaking it within an inch of its life.
Hawkins helped the Cats surge back into the game in the third quarter as he stamped his authority on the contest. Had he not got too close to the man on the mark, and had his shot at goal touched, it may have been one of the better quarters by a power forward in a long while.
Sheed started like a rocket, and not one of those ones you can buy at on ebay that kind of spiral off into your neighbour’s yard and you don’t see it again.
Actually, he did spiral off a bit after the first quarter, but the good news is that he spiralled right back late in the game and played a big role in the Eagles running over the top of the Cats.
Sheed finished with 30 touches and a couple of goals.
MARK HUTCHINGS ON JOEL SELWOOD
When you’re confronted with a three-headed monster, you’ve got to concentrate on one head at a time. The Eagles focused on Joel Selwood, and the results were very pleasing.
Hutchings matched Selwood’s output, and was damaging going the other way. Both men finished with 21 touches, and with Ablett going down injured early in the last quarter, it left only one head to deal with.
Hutchings’ job made the beast easier to kill, and the Eagles killed it.
I don't often find myself barracking for someone who does not play for my team, but I cannot help wanting Ryan to get the ball.
He was excellent today, kicking three goals, including one off the ground in the last quarter when the heat was well and truly on. Here's hoping he heels up quickly and is back on the park next week.
PATRICK DANGERFIELD’S THIRD QUARTER
He gets a bit of flack, but by God he is a good footballer. Danger was everywhere in the third, and for the second consecutive week, he was instrumental in his side rampaging their way back into the contest.
11 touches in the third quarter, with five of them the result of clearance work, Dangerfield reminded everyone once again as to why he is one of the best players in the game.
JACK DARLING’S LATE GAME HEROICS
Losing one of the best key forwards in the game is supposed to negatively impact your side, but Jack Darling has made great strides as the number one target this season in the absence of Josh Kennedy.
With the game in the balance, Darling was huge in the last quarter. He clunked a mark after working his backside off to get back into position to contest. Just moments before, he was fifty metres away.
Another forward entry saw him held and awarded a free kick for his second goal in minutes, and then he was strong in the contest to bring the ball to ground, where Liam Ryan swooped to kick the Eagles into the lead.
His opponent, Jake Kolodjashnij (Yes, I looked it up) was excellent for most of the game, taking several intercept marks, and looked to have Darling’s number, but things can change quickly in footy.
It was not Darling’s greatest game, and was far from his worst, but when it counted, he stood up, and he made a huge difference in the game.
With fourteen disposals and 2 goals, you could be forgiven for thinking that the second-gamer had a run of the mill outing in the West.
However, that assumption would be incorrect. Ratugolea was a real presence for the Cats, playing the role of their number one ruckman, as well as drifting forward and kicking goals. He looked really strong overhead, and early on, was even able to match it with Naitanui at centre bounces.
Of course, that changed later on, but Ratugolea showed plenty today. The Cats have a keeper.
When Shuey gets his hands on the ball, and a bit of speed built up, it spells definite trouble for opposition teams.
He had 13 contested possessions amongst his 28 touches and looked like a bonafide star as he streamed through the midfield to propel the Eagles into attack.
Shuey is now the number one man in the Eagles midfield, and today indicates why.
NIC NAITANUI IS A FORCE OF NATURE
I’ll admit it – I had my doubts. I may have even jotted them down, but he is proving me wrong. Dead wrong.
Nic Nat’s ruck work was exceptional today, and when the Eagles saw the Cats fight back in the last quarter, it was the move of Naitanui back into the centre that swung the momentum back West Coast’s way.
In thirty seconds, he gave absolute silver service to Shuey at the centre bounce, allowing him to grab the ball in stride, and pump the Eagles into their forward 50.
He followed the ball down, contested a stoppage and tapped the ball straight down the throat of Mark LeCras, who slotted a goal. It was half a minute of ruck brilliance.
But there was a moment I loved even more than that. In the third quarter, Brandan Parfitt found himself with the ball, and a very large man was bearing down on him. That man was Nic Naitanui.
Parfitt tried to ride the tackle, but was driven into the ground by the wall of force that is Nic Nat. It was one of the best tackles of the young season, and one Parfitt won’t forget any time soon.
Gary Ablett going down with a hamstring injury early in the final quarter may have had a bigger impact on the contest than we know. Already two men down on the bench, Ablett’s absence not only put an enormous strain on the Cats’ rotations, but robbed them of their best ball-winner at that stage of the game.
Had Ablett stayed healthy, could the Cats have held on to win away from home? We’ll never know, and the experiment known as DangerwoodLett could have very easily been winless if it wasn’t for a shank from Max Gawn in Round One.