AFL Round 2 – Geelong v North Melbourne: Blue and White Night

It’s getting late. The night’s wearing on, the cable sports shows are running through their 30-minute cycle of wraps and highlights, with updates from west coast games still yet to finish. The Blue Jays got a shutout from their fifth starter and a couple of long home runs to level their 3-game series with the Red Sox. In hockey, the Leafs got up 2-1 over the Devils. Improbably, in defiance of most statistical measures, they sit 5th in the conference and probably only need to win 3 or 4 of their remaining 10 games to book their first postseason appearance for 7 years. It’s been a good night for blue and white. And one way or another that will continue. Over on the other screen, on the Internet, North is about to take on the Cats.

Last week North were pretty terrible. They played enterprising, opportunistic footy for a half against Collingwood even while butchering the ball up the ground, but couldn’t sustain it. In the end their lack of polish cost them a golden opportunity to beat the depleted Pies. Scotty’s presser showed a more peevish side to him than we’ve seen in his first few years, so I don’t doubt there were a few home truths told behind closed doors and a hard week on the track. Geelong played the opposite role in their win over Hawthorn, storming home in the second half. Their attempt to rebuild on the fly is looking like the work of a smart footy department. They look slick and professional, and have added some midfield pace. On the plus side for North, Geelong have a pattern of being vulnerable after Hawks games. So let’s go.

The lateness of the hour and the dark, quiet house serve to accentuate the isolation of watching the footy like this. The AFLTV stream does the same, not cutting in until almost the first bounce, leaving out all the preamble and prognostication. What to do? Follow a hashtag? I suspect that will consist mainly of people Being Wrong On The Internet, shouting BOO! WHAT WAS THAT FOR? into the ether, and basically bringing only the worst parts of the communal footy experience into my basement. And besides, I’d need 2 screens for that. The Internet has brought some wonderful communities together around football, but real-time game day interaction is … er … not one of its strong points.

North’s start is unrecognisable from the week before. Patient, precise ball movement. Sticking tackles. Efficient inside-50’s. The first goal comes from a deftly weighted entry from Goldstein to Petrie; the sort of play that we wished Goldy would bring more of last year. A couple of goals result from contested marks by Atley across half-forward. After trading goals for the first few minutes, North pull away, punctuated by a cracking goal by LT after scrambling through a contest. Love LT.

Geelong get one back in the dying seconds — a troubling habit North has developed lately, and one that comes back to haunt us too often for my liking.

The second is more of the same. The boys are playing like the side we’ve been waiting for them to become. Dominating contested and uncontested possession. Swallow is massive, Ziebell tough, Cunnington clever, Bastinac busy. Firrito tends to be maligned as the very model of a mediocre backman, but jeez he’s good at standing up in tackles and getting the ball away.

Geelong get one back in the last minute — a troubling habit North has developed lately, and one that comes back to haunt us too often for my liking.

Late in the second, the commentators mention some stats. North have 15 scoring shots and 12 goals from 20 inside-50s, and 80% kicking efficiency. As all North people would know, the inner voice’s that’s amazing, they’re putting on a clinic is quickly drowned out by oh that’s unsustainable, haven’t turned it into a big enough lead, we’re doooooomed.

And so it goes. In the 3rd, the Kangas are just a tiny bit less composed, but Chapman, Christensen, Podsiadly and Motlop take full advantage. Before the dust settles the margin is back to 8. But to their credit, the boys compose themselves again and reverse the tide to the tune of 3 goals.

Geelong get one back in the last minute — a troubling habit North has developed lately, and one that comes back to haunt us too often for my liking.

The last quarter is a slog. Grimly inevitable, the Cats grind it down and hit the front. As well as their rebuild is going, it’s the old stagers who are the difference: Chapman, Enright, Selwood, Bartel. But North aren’t done. They show a lot more fight when the bad guys get a run on than they used to. Wells sticks a set shot. Back in front!

Naturally, Geelong get one in the last minute — a troubling habit North has developed lately, and one that comes back to haunt us too often for my liking.

An unexpected result of a tense, gripping game: it’s 4pm in Melbourne and the keyboard warriors have hours of venting ahead of them, but it’s 2:00 am here and I’m too wound up to sleep. Probably best I leave the Internet alone until tomorrow.

 

Geelong  4.0 6.4  13.8 16.16 (112)

NM       7.1 12.3 15.5 17.6  (108)

Goals

Geel

Christensen 3, Hawkins 3, Chapman 2, Motlop 2, Duncan, Podsiadly, Selwood, Bartel, Caddy, Lonergan

NM

Thomas 5, Petrie 4, Tarrant 2, Bastinac, Adams, Anthony, Atley, Mullett, Wells

Best

Geel

Chapman, Christensen, Bartel, Enright, Selwood

NM

Swallow, Thomas, Goldstein, Bastinac, Ziebell, Mullett

Official crowd: 34,152 at Etihad Stadium

Our votes: 3 P Chapman (G), 2 A Swallow (NM), 1 A Christensen (G)

Comments

  1. Rob – very entertaining. The Cats keep giving opposition teams a head start. Its been happening for a few seasons now. Its a troubling habit Geelong has developed lately, and one that will come back to haunt us for sure.

  2. Rob. You’re right. Those late Geelong goals in the first three quarters kept them in the game – just. In the end it was enough – just. The older players you mention, and Christensen who is most impressive, lifted noticeably and saved the day.

    At the game the umpires’ interpretations seemed to be a bit technical, especially on the 50m penalties, but I suppose at least they were consistent. Heartbreaking for North in the end with that gimme goal to Jimmy B. Still, that’s footy.

    It was unusual to see the rain pouring down for quite a while at Etihad. It turned the game into a bit of a slog, and dare I say it, made it more entertaining.

  3. Charlie Wells says:

    I’m with you Dibs. It Kils us to win hard games by the slimmest of margins. Scotty’s gotta get the mongrel back in to the side and put the opposition to the sword. Essondon are 150 % pct up on the Cats right now. If they keep winning it will be hard to pull that back.

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