The first quarter was a precursor to the rest of the match. Geelong took its chances when they presented, kicking 5.2 from twelve forward 50 entries, while Melbourne squandered opportunities, kicking 2.4 from sixteen entries. Mark Blicavs was best on ground for the first 30 minutes with 10 touches and 2 goals. He used his engine and his height, floating unchecked from one end to the other, recapturing the form he showed against Fremantle two weeks earlier. Daniel Menzel and Tom Hawkins booted 1 and 2 goals respectively in the first quarter, and looked as though they were set for a day out.
In the second and third quarters, Melbourne had countless chances to put the game beyond Geelong’s reach. Over those two quarters, Geelong scored 9.0., to Melbourne’s 10.13. That’s 9 scoring shots to 23 in an hour of football. As tufts of torn-out Melbourne supporter’s hair blew around the stands, Geelong pulled itself together for another almighty effort, just as it had done a week earlier against North Melbourne. The final thirty minutes was a quarter too much for Melbourne, Geelong’s bigger bodies powering it over the line, outscoring Melbourne 6.4 to 1.2. The usual suspects, Selwood and Dangerfield, along with Duncan guided the Cats from a three-point, three-quarter time deficit, to a hard fought 29 point victory.
Five Minutes that Mattered
At the twenty-two minute-mark of the second quarter, Melbourne finally hit the lead by one point. They led inside 50s for the quarter (12-2) but only had four goals for their efforts, whereas Geelong has scored a goal with both their entries. In the next sixty seconds of football, Geelong scored two goals pushing their lead back out to 11 points. Melbourne then managed an inaccurate 1.2 before the siren sounded sending them into the main break three points adrift. Worse still, Big Maxy Gawn (BMG) went down with a hamstring injury and was done for the day - later confirmed to be three months.
In Round 2 against North Melbourne, Geelong were down by 32 points midway through the third quarter. All seemed lost. However they rallied, their star players, Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield, hauling the team over the line. The Cats were in front for a total of 125 seconds during that game, but they led when it mattered most. Geelong would have probably lost that match had injured veteran Todd Goldstein been playing as opposed to Braydon Preuss, a second game rookie. The same could be said for Geelong's victory over Melbourne. What if Jessie Hogan had kept his fist to himself the week before? Melbourne midfielders, (which would have included Jordan Lewis – if he had also kept his ego in check), would have delivered the ball into a more potent forward-line. In the first half, Melbourne had 32 inside 50s for only 7 goals. It would finish the game with 58 inside 50s for 13 goals and a horrid 41% accuracy. Hogan needs to butt out the darts he’s been pictured smoking in Western Australia and take up the peace-pipe. Melbourne can’t afford to have him on the sidelines if it hopes to secure its first finals berth since 2006.
Geelong debutant James Parsons made a solid start to his football career, notching up 18 touches and making lively contributions across the field. Brandan Parfitt, in his third game for the Cats, had a career high 23 possessions on Saturday afternoon, 13 contested. He is a slick footballer and will prove to be a great addition to the lineup. These two youngsters (Parfitt in particular) indicate there is new talent coming through at the Cattery.
Winter is Coming for Geelong
Opposition coaches spend hours trying to identify a weakness in their opposition’s structures and zones. Geelong has been found out in the last two weeks. Midway through the second quarter, Geelong trailed inside 50s, 14-28 and uncontested marks, 4–22. Their opponents were able to chip the ball to one-another between the 50m arcs which allowed them to move the ball quickly up the field, then launch attacks 60 metres from goal, pinpointing targets within the arcs. Geelong defenders are repeatedly caught out of position, leading to easy marks or desperate measures which lead to opposition free-kicks. (Hello Tom Ruggles – three free-kicks against for two opposition goals).
Geelong lost uncontested marks against Melbourne 60–97. Against North Melbourne the figure was 67-80. That totals 127-177 (uncontested marks) in two weeks. Uncontested marks allow the opposition to move the ball more effectively – with no pressure. In short, Geelong needs to tighten up its zone or a better kicking team will embarrass Geelong and make them look worse than second rate. The difference in this game was Melbourne’s accuracy at goal which was a horrid 41%, compared to Geelong’s 71%. That’s where this game was won and lost.
Melbourne players rue the one that got away.