It was billed as a battle of the two top defences in the league, and in the first half, that’s what we got. Geelong broke the shackles in the last quarter to kick five unanswered goals and run out winners by 37 points.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
The back six
If this was going to come down to which defence held up, take a bow Geelong defenders.
Jake Kolodjashnij, Jack Henry, Jed Bews and Zach Tuohy held their ground, refused to be beaten and backed each other in all day. Yeah there’s two missing there, but they get their own write up.
I’ve really been loving Kolodjashnij’s form whenever I’ve watched the Cats… but I really hate spelling his name. He rarely loses a contest, but given the cats gave up just two goals in the first half, you could say that for just about every one of their defenders
The Little Master
I’ve watched games where Gaz has racked up 40+ touches and I haven’t thought that he’d hurt the opposition. Today wasn’t one of those days. There was no running around the back of the pack for the easy ones. He was damaging and played a big part in several passages of play at half back that saw the Cats able to launch into attack.
He had no tackles last week, but he had eight this afternoon to be equal leader for the game.
If people are looking to criticise Ablett, they may want to avoid this game to illustrate their points – he was excellent today.
Ben Jacobs’ first half
If you hold Joel Selwood to six touches in a half, you deserve a pat on the back. Jacobs is the premier tagger in the game, and his negating talents were on full display in the first half.
Selwood has the kind of game I thought Jacobs would struggle to stymie, but there he was, wet-blanketing one of the hardest nuts in the game. It got to the point at one stage where the ball came toward Selwood at a stoppage and Joel just backhanded it away. He was flat-footed and looked as though he expected that he wasn’t going to get the ball. He backhanded it away - that is an anti-Selwood action. You know you’re doing a great job when Selwood looks defeated, and he looked that way in the first half.
Joel Selwood’s second half
And if Jacobs owned the first half, Selwood owned the second. After six touches in the first half, he had 20 in the second.
Admittedly, quite a few of the Captain’s touches came late in the game, but he broke the tag in the third, with nine touches. I wonder whether Chris Scott had a chat to Selwood at half time, or whether Selwood just persevered, knowing that his ability would win out?
Selwood finished with 26 touches, only bettered by Ablett and Shaun Higgins. Quite a recovery.
Also, in case I forget, how good was it to see Ablett working hard to put blocks on Jacobs to free up Selwood in the second quarter? It allowed Selwood to get two disposals in the ensuing chain of possessions. Great team play by Ablett.
So he played on the leader in the Coleman medal race today, and yes, we covered the excellent defensive unit he had help from above, but Ben Brown was Blicavs’ responsibility today. Had Brown kicked five, we’d be looking at Blicavs and people would be pointing the finger right at him.
Well, Brown didn’t kick five. He didn’t kick three. He didn’t kick any, and if you’re gonna cop it when things go bad, you can lap up the plaudits when things go right, and today they went very, very right.
Blicavs was fantastic at full back and anchored that defensive unit all day. In doing so, he opened the race for the Coleman medal right up.
All Australian Tom Stewart
Another ripping effort from Stewart today, despite limping off in the second quarter. Even though he was hurt, he still managed to be involved in the next contest.
He returned pretty quickly and went about what is his regular game – 26 touches and 7 marks across the half back line, and providing the Cats with a running option out of defence.
Another Cat who gets a lot of flak when things go wrong. He was taking on the second most stingy defence in the game (behind his own back six) and really, if he’d been beaten he had a good out as a result.
He wasn’t beaten. He worked hard up to the wing and back deep to the square, giving Patrick Dangerfield room when required. He took four contested marks and kicked three goals, but it was the way he continually presented and made Robbie Tarrant and Scott Thompson accountable whenever they were responsible for him.
Whoever he was on, he won more times than he lost.
We mentioned Ablett’s tackling, but there were some absolute belters today.
Simpkin nailed Tuohy in the first quarter, and followed up with a nice hit on Danger as he got rid of the ball. Ziebell had one not much longer on Bews.
In the third quarter we saw Shaun Atley catch Lachie Fogarty holding the ball in the middle of the ground and completely against the flow as the Cats streamed forward, and Bews caught Wood in a beauty as well. Ranked number two was Marley Williams nailing Mitch Duncan in the last quarter.
But possibly the best one of all saw Tom Stewart absolutely dump Jack Ziebell on the wing. It was a crunching tackle. Loved it.
North delivery inside 50
This is probably a bit harsh, but if you watched the game from start to finish, you would’ve seen plenty of North players either bombing it to an outnumbered Ben Brown, or missing the leading target.
Shaun Higgins had a heap of the ball and took it inside 50 on ten occasions. I counted four times in the first half he went inside with what I’d call a “nothing kick”. Other than getting it in there, there was no real purpose to the kicks. The one time he lowered his eyes, he allowed Mason Wood to follow up the spilled mark and snap a goal from 40 metres.
This is probably more to do with the excellence of the Geelong defence than poor kicking by Higgins, but he was an easy one to point out as he went inside so much.
I reckon North really missed the sure hands of Jarrad Waite today. His presence spreads the defence, and without him, they knew the long ball was always going to Brown.
Aaron Black’s knee injury
This looked bad. A hyper-extension is one thing, but his knee bent back way too far for my liking.
He was nudged in the marking contest by Ben Brown and landed straight-legged. His knee had nowhere to go but backward… and that’s the way it bent.
I hope he bounces back from this and it isn’t as serious as it looked. I feel for him – I did my knee exactly the same way. The result wasn’t great for me, but I have my fingers and ligaments crossed that it’s better news for him.
Two costly misses
Momentum is a crazy thing, and just one straight kick early in the last quarter may have changed the game.
Trent Dumont had a routine 30 metre snap go astray to open the last quarter that would’ve dragged the deficit to two goals. Moments later, Sam Wright took an intercept mark and sent the ball to Luke McDonald 40 metres from goal. He went back and missed as well.
There were plenty of opportunities that we could point out, but at a critical time, with the margin still very gettable, these two shots were disheartening, particularly when you consider the Cats went on to kick five consecutive goals later in the quarter.
You just have to make the most of those opportunities. They change games.
Good to see Brandon Parfitt playing good footy again. I reckon the Cats missed him while he was sidelined. Was very good early in the year and looks to be getting back to that level now.
There were a couple of perfect ruck taps from Goldstein to Higgins in this one – just hit him in stride. Stanley more than held his own around the ground, though. He made Goldstein look slow several times, and took marks around the ground before Goldy got going.
I have heard David King talk about the Kangaroos kicking down the guts from kick outs. The Cats have obviously been listening. The one time they tried it today, Ablett cut it off and gave to Mitch Duncan, who goaled. They didn’t attempt it again.
Dangerfield looks incredibly dangerous up forward. Once he is done running around the middle, he’ll make an incredible permanent full forward.
Mason Wood’s two early misses were costly. He looked the most likely North player to hurt the Cats on the scoreboard early.
The Geelong rebound was excellent early, and it was only the diligence of the North Melbourne defence that prevented them really getting hold of the game. They ran to spread very well, and had it not been for the efforts of Tarrant, Thompson and friends, it may have been much worse.
Jy Simpkin had a really good start to the game. Couldn’t maintain it. Is it his tank?
I loved Mitch Duncan taking on the Majak Daw fend off, and winning!
Paul Ahern didn’t have a game like his first, but he did have one good moment, making a tremendous spoil against Dangerfield when it looked like Danger had the better position in the second quarter.
Dangerfield v Ziebell one out is a great match up. In their one contest today, Dangerfield won, and kicked a goal as a result.
Good to see Ziebell nail a difficult shot at goal. It was a gorgeous kick from the boundary, especially when you consider his record kicking for goal this season.
Only seven touches for Cunnington in the first half by my count. Not good enough really, in a big game. He and Selwood’s ineffective play cancelled each other out in the first half.
Loved the Ablett fend off on Higgins. It started the ball rolling Geelong’s way, and ended with a Hawkins goal.
Soooo, it may have been unintentional, but Joel Selwood dropped a couple of knees into the back of Shaun Higgins. Pretty sure an unpopular Hawk was suspended for dropping the knees into Selwood early this year…
Clear holding the ball decision should’ve given Ablett his fourth free kick due to tackling. You could see the frustration in the Geelong players around the ball as it was called play on.
Really stiff 50 metre penalty against Ablett early in the last quarter. He was exiting the area and had no influence on the kicker. Sometimes these ones just get plucked. Just pay the obvious ones and don’t look for them when they’re not really there!
Amazing that after over 250 games, Joel Selwood still won’t throw the ball on the left foot, thirty metres out. He went for a right foot banana and had no angle to do it.
Cracking goal from Jordan Cunico in the last quarter. Just held the line to sneak in. A heartbreaker for the Roos.
Tim Kelly seemed to use the last quarter to run himself into a bit of form after being down the last time they played an actual game (come on… the Gold Coast game was a glorified training drill).
If there was one error from Blicavs all day, it was a clear infringement on Ben Brown late in the last quarter. But the Footy Gods, in the form of umpires, were on Blicavs’ side today, and they didn’t call it. That’s the way to top off a perfect day.
Great win by the Cats, defending their home turf and setting up a massive game against the Tigers next week. Like what you’re getting from The Mongrel? Give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and get more like the gluttons you are. Go on, you little gluttons.