Sometimes the games that you expect the least from can turn out to be the tight contests that keep bums in seats.
That was the case (for the first half anyway) as we saw the glaringly evident top of the table Geelong, take on the 15th placed St. Kilda In a game that threatened to be a huge percentage booster for the Cats, and ultimately a Saturday night fizzer.
However, the Saints surprisingly avoided embarrassment early by showing plenty of first-half fight down in Geelong. Gradually the cream rose to the top as the skill and sheer class of the Cats allowed them to best the Saints - a clear indication as to why they sit two games clear atop of the ladder.
Another good week for Dangerfield, Duncan, Selwood and Co. ultimately proving too good for an under-fire St. Kilda outfit, the Cats running away with the game in the second half.
Despite leading by two points at half time, the Saints could only muster a meagre two goals, six behinds for the second half of the game, while the Cats piled on seven goals, five behinds to eventually run out 27 point winners.
Staring down the barrel of a bottom-four finish after their tenth loss of the season, there is seemingly nothing keeping the wolves away from the doors at St. Kilda. With a change of coach before season’s end almost imminent, it's hard to get a clear indication of which direction this club is heading with its current list.
At the opposite end of the spectrum you have a resolute Geelong side ticking all the boxes and seemingly cruising to another finals series.
Versatility the key
One thing we've learnt from Geelong this year is their depth and versatility is up there with the best in the league. They have the enviable ability to tweak players positions and roles mid-game and totally change the tempo and pace of a game in a matter of minutes. When something isn't working for Chris Scott, it doesn't take those who follow long to notice his subtle changes that can turn a game on its head before your eyes. Just another string to Geelong's coaching bow
Another week, Another mention
Apologies in advance for the code jump, but it's the age-old tag that reigns evident at the Cattery; Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust - if Lillee don't get you, then Thommo must!
Even with Ablett managing hip soreness, and Selwood battling a hard tag for parts of the game, it's the aforementioned versatility that allows other players to step up in their stead.
Week in, week out it's the same names that keep on presenting for Geelong. Dangerfield, Selwood, Miers, Duncan, Kelly, Stewart. If Tuohy goes quiet, Stewart steps up. If Rohan and Dahlhaus don't kick goals, Ratugolea and Guthrie do. If Tim Kelly is held, Mitch Duncan plays a role. Leading up to the pointy end of the season, it's the little things that can make or break a team, but with the depth and cohesion of Geelong, its easy to see why they're going Into the finals as clear favourite
The emergence and improvement of Rowan Marshall as St. Kilda's number one ruckman is another successful example of clubs looking outside the box for mature age players. His averages over the last 6 week's rank him up there with the best players in the league. Not only is he winning hit-outs, but he's roving his own ball, laying tackles, taking marks and kicking goals. Which makes it hard to understand why the Saints have shown such an interest in Essendon's Sam Draper. Their pursuit of the uncapped Bomber certainly leaves us scratching our heads, especially when there are other facets of their game that require a lot more attention than their ruck stocks.
Patrick Dangerfield finished the game with 32 disposals (23 contested), nine clearances, seven tackles, five inside 50s and three contested marks. The 2016 Brownlow medallist proved to be the difference, particularly in the second half. His poise and ability to make things happen at either end of the ground dug Geelong out of their first half deficit and showcased a level of football above all others on the ground.
Defence of defence.
Alan Richardson has been adamant that his defence can hold up against the best forward lines in the league when they work together and play their natural game style. But time and time again we see the same defenders being easily beaten. The scoreline flattered a few of the Saints defenders come the final siren. It seems that all the groundwork is left up to a few players, while others guard grass and point fingers. Credit is due for them putting the screws on Geelong in the first half, but to steal a line from Kevin Sheedy; "it's hard to accumulate success when your backline is chocolate, that is they're all sweet to taste but they melt as soon as things get hot". Expecting more changes than just the coaching position in the near future. It's getting more and more obvious that players are either unhappy with who they're playing for, or where they're playing.
Time for a spell, mate.
Fan interaction is all a part of the game. Without the fans, there really is no game. Which is why it absolutely baffles me as to why almost every week we read of a fan taking it too far. To the fan that threw half a beer at Gary Ablett during the first quarter, not only are you an imbecile for wasting half a beer, you're part of a bigger problem. That problem is a select group of supporters who feel that the price of admission entitles them to act like idiots and tarnish the reputation of a supporter base. Here's to hoping he/she is found and dealt with accordingly. The less of this rubbish that we even have to acknowledge the better.
Wait, watching whose balls?
From the early days of Auskick we are taught not to be caught watching the ball. Always maintain touch on your opponent and read the passage of play. Had the Saints players at each end of the ground remembered their basics during the third quarter, they may have had a closer score come the final siren. In what became the turning catalyst for the match, more than once were Jake Carlisle and Nathan Brown caught wondering. How bad it must look upon replay at your team meetings during the week, standing there watching your opponent Mark the ball whilst you are metres away telling a younger player what he should be doing. Is it a lack of leadership at Moorabbin? Obviously they are missing Jack Steven, among others. But who else will stand up and be the leader St. Kilda need? Or will they limp into the off-season and try it all again next year.
-Tonight Joel Selwood overtook Ian Nankervis to have the most disposals of any Geelong player (7295).
-25 disposals and nine tackles at 88% efficiency to young Hunter Clark who had a fair crack, showing his willingness to get his hands dirty early.
- The term 'GOAT' is thrown around a lot these days, but Gary Ablett's two goals in a Minute showed exactly why he is the GOAT. Carrying a clear hip injury, he managed to turn it on for 60 seconds of the game, kicking two flash goals that all but hammered the final nails in the Saints coffin.
-Hunter Clark, Jack Steele, Jack Billings, Jade Gresham and Blake Acres laid 38 tackles between them in another dominant display of tackling by St. Kilda. Jack Steele has laid 34 Tackles in his last three games.
- How many Cats can we squeeze into the All Australian team? I don't know what will stick out more, the amount if inclusions, or the amount of exclusions this season. Another year of trying to squeeze 50 deserving players across the league into 22 positions.
-St. Kilda have only won five quarters for the whole year.
- Is it a cop out for a team in St. Kilda's position to blame the umpires for their loss?
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