The Geelong defence strangled the life out of a Greater Western Sydney forward line that looked rather clueless at time.
GWS were needing a lot from their midfield, and they failed to get it as the Giants fell to the Cats by 61 points at Kardinia Park.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
So here we are, into Round 7 and Tim Kelly continues to make people scratch their heads. How did he slip to #24 in last year’s draft? He is displaying all the talent in the world, and looks like a seasoned veteran in the middle.
As if Geelong doesn’t have enough top-end talent in the midfield, Kelly has added to it, and rather than play a secondary role, he has jumped to the forefront of that celebrated midfield with another stellar performance tonight. Though he amassed 30 touches, it was the 16 first half touches that did the damage.
What was most impressive about Kelly tonight was his patience and his ability to assess the situation and deliver the ball after putting thought into it. There is no belting it forward and hoping with Kelly. He has poise.
While you’ll always hear the names of Selwood, Dangerfield and Ablett (when he plays), keep an ear out for Kelly’s name. There may be times when he is squeezed out of this midfield unit, but for the time being, he is no cameo appearance – he was the lead tonight.
Tom Hawkins’ contested marking
I love when ‘experts’ start talking about what Hawkins needs to do more of, and how he needs to work further up the ground. Did you see what he did tonight? He clunked a few big marks – that is his value. And when he wasn’t clunking marks, he was using his brains to dribble goals through.
Whilst Hawkins will be under scrutiny for touching an umpire (get the chequebook out), his one handed, body to body mark against Aidan Corr was as good as it gets. Hawkins looked out of the contest, and Corr had done everything right – he took front position and maintained contact with Hawkins…
… and then he was just moved out of the way. Only 40-50 centimetres out of the way, but enough to cause the drop zone of the ball to be in line with one of Hawkins’ arms. The Tomohawk cradled the ball and the home crowd loved it.
The Cats defence
With Harry Taylor getting closer to return, the Cats’ brains trust would be licking their lips at the possibilities. Their defence made the GWS forward set up look completely inept all night.
Now, this is the defence that was supposed to fall apart. Mackie and Lonergan were gone. Taylor was injured. But names like Tom Stewart, Jack Henry, Zach Guthrie and Jake Kolodjashnij are more than holding the fort – they are anchoring a back half that embarrassed the Giants.
Stewart was tremendous, and as always, provided great run out of defence. He took 12 marks, one better than Henry’s 11, and strengthened his claim on an All-Australian spot. Henry was tremendous when the game was still in the balance.
But it doesn’t stop there for the Cats backline. Jed Bews was good again, Mark Blicavs drifted back to help whenever he could, and Zac Tuohy was great in compiling 22 disposals without being a stand out.
If the GWS forwards were feeling a little bit down before this game, imagine how poorly they’re feeling after being caned by this Geelong back six?
OK, big fella. You’re a number one pick. You have the potential to be one of the best big men in the game. You’re being called the General, but really, you’re doing nothing to earn that nickname other than having a famous surname.
It’s quite damning, but in the notes I took in the first half, most things I wrote about Patton were negative. He looks like a man who has no confidence in his own marking ability. He is doing the hard work, but he needs to glove the marks in order for it to pay off.
Patton’s dropped mark early in the second quarter would've sucked the life out of teammates. He was the only one contesting in the air after making the best position. All he had to do was clunk it – that’s his job, and that’s what he’s good at, supposedly. It went straight through his hands.
He finished with 16 touches and three marks. He didn’t take a shot at goal. Not good enough.
The GWS midfield
You know what? I see that Dylan Shiel got 32 touches. I see that Stephen Coniglio had 28 as well. They did not hurt the Cats whatsoever. They had plenty of mates, too.
Getting numbers are great, but if you’re doing bugger all with them, then what good are they? Shiel picked up 13 touches in the last quarter, which you could look at two ways. Either he kept battling irrespective of the score, or he took the opportunity to bump up his numbers late.
It was painfully apparent tonight just how much GWS are missing Josh Kelly in the middle. A ruckman wouldn’t go astray either.
GWS delivery inside 50
I’m not sure I’ve seen worse delivery to forwards ever. The Giants’ build ups were slow, and it allowed Geelong to get their numbers back. It seemed at one stage that GWS were actually kicking it to Geelong players.
Credit the Geelong mids, who put pressure on the kickers, but GWS need to be better than this. The Cats intercept-marked the ball 27 times tonight. Where the hell were the Giants aiming?
There’s an old saying – the harder you work, the luckier you get. The Cats worked harder than the Giants tonight. They got to contests, they fought and scrapped when the ball was in dispute, and they reaped the rewards of that hard work on the scoreboard.
Saw Coniglio starting forward each quarter. It’s not a bad move, and it worked against Collingwood earlier in the year, but if you’re going to have a smaller midfielder coming out of the goal square, you need to lower your eyes and try to hit him up instead of bombing it on his head and hoping he’ll take a mark against guys who dwarf him.
Whoever thought it was a good idea to put orange on the socks of the Cats players needs a whack across the back of the head. You’re playing the team with predominantly orange colours. Should've waited a week.
I still feel that Lachie Whitfield is targeted by opposition tacklers. Whenever he gets it, opposition supporters delight in crunching him in tackles. This is not the first week it’s happened this season.
Really loved the way Hawkins moved the ball out of the way after he marked it in the first quarter, which prevented Phil Davis from getting a fist to it. Really intelligent.
Loved hearing the commentators suggest Heath Shaw has a high IQ. They must think we’ll fall for anything.
Speaking of Shaw, he looked up in the first quarter and saw a sea of Geelong jumpers in front of him. He threw the ball on his foot – a bit of a tumble punt as anything longer would’ve been marked by two other Cats, but it didn’t matter. A Geelong player got it anyway. Credit a great defensive set up by the Cats, but what were the Giants doing? No one was offering Shaw anything.
Geelong’s lead at quarter time should’ve been much more. Many opportunities went begging.
Great awareness by Coniglio to catch Dangerfield after he played on from a mark. Sorry Geelong fans - it was definitely holding the ball.
The GWS tried hard during the first part of the second quarter but could not break through, but as soon as the Cats went forward, they goaled.
No idea why someone couldn’t get a body on Cory Gregson 20 metres out from goal. Only poor old John Patton got back to clog up the space and got a knee in the back for his trouble. No way Gregson should be afforded a free run at the ball so close to goal.
Didn’t like seeing Tim Taranto pull out of a contest on the wing that saw Blicavs mark uncontested. Sometimes you just have to go, Tim.
Mitch Duncan just did what Mitch Duncan does. Unassuming, workmanlike and very effective around the ball all game.
Dangerfield was isolated for an eternity in the forward line. I thought it was really poor coaching, and terrible on-field leadership that saw him remain in a one-on-one contest as every man and his dog could see that if Geelong got the ball, Paddy was going to get it. Hawkins got it, kicked it to Danger who marked and goaled.
Dylan Shiel’s kicking on the run is suspect. He has missed a lot of targets going forward over the past few weeks. Many of those forays forward have seen him miss everything. He’s kicked two goals for the year, but it hasn’t been due to lack of opportunity.
I thought Blicavs definitely interfered with Finlayson as he ran back with the flight into a marking contest. He didn’t take his eyes off the ball – granted, but he did run into him and chop his arms. When Dangerfield is getting softer calls at the other end, you’ve got to pay that a free kick.
For those who sing the praises of Daniel Menzel, this is how the forward line operates without him. His tackllng pressure in minimal, but Geelong's pressure inside forward fifty tonight was as good as it's been all season. For the record... I like Menzel in the side, but he just has no defensive presence at all.
Esava Ratugolea is starting to look really, really good. As soon as he starts taking one grab marks, he will be a monster.