Late starts all round as Cats eventually triumph

Geelong VS Essendon

Melbourne Cricket Ground

7:40 26th March

By Steven Ingham

There is nothing quite like the feeling you get through your spine when the umpire holds the ball up and the siren to start proceedings on your team’s season sounds. Unfortunately for me, I enjoyed this on the radio while stuck in traffic, still trying to get to the MCG, which I eventually manage by quarter time.

On the preview, Garry Lyon delivers the stat of the night that really warmed my heart, Geelong’s average winning margin against the Bombers in recent times is 65 points. How those games have been painful!

As Geelong kicks the first goal of the game, that de ja vu feeling sets in and despite a brief September appearance last year, I’m instantly thinking the worse. However, the feeling around the ground as I arrive (at ¼ time – gee I love traffic!) is one of anticipation, a good first quarter, but is the Geelong machine about to kick into gear?

Within 5 minutes, I’m reminded about everything I love about footy at the G. A lovely still night, 55,000-ish people following every bump, mark and tackle, sitting with fellow Bombers and hearing the confidence of all the Cats supporters, my footy record, hot chips – it is without doubt that the chips at the G are so much better than the chips at Etihad – and a mid strength beer with no head in a plastic cup. Ok, maybe the beer isn’t the best, but it is a small price to pay for the atmosphere of the G on a Friday Night.

As little Gazza, or Gold Coast Gazza as our section of the crowd so cleverly named him, banged through the first of the second quarter I felt really good that Geelong had waited for me to arrive before they put their foot down. But then something that doesn’t normally happen at Essendon v Geelong games occurs. We show some fight and resistance, and through good play in the middle of the ground, we hit the front and actually miss a couple of easy shots on goal that would have pushed us 4 goals out. Just before half time, normality returns and the cats take back their lead in what has been a really good half of footy.

The first half of the third quarter was probably the best 15 minutes of footy the bombers have played for a couple of years, and against a very good opposition. When, the big Neagle-Bomb marked, 30 out directly in front, he could have gone back and slotted through a major and put us 29 points on top of the defending premier. He is a lovely set shot for goal and most at the ground would have backed him in from there. But he decided he was a bit quicker and agile than reality, and Harry Taylor cooked him like a dinner. From there, the next 30 minutes was typically “Cats Footy” (sorry for the steal Ross Lyon!). 9 unanswered goals (Kelly, Ling, Bartel, Selwood, Mooney, Byrnes, Johnson, Mooney, Byrnes) was a swift and uncompromising reply to those of us who were actually starting to dream of an upset win. Not tonight. And suddenly that 65 point margin wasn’t that far away – surely we had shown a bit more than that!

So the game was done and the reigning premier will run out a winner, and there were heartening signs for fans of both teams, one of those rare games were supporters of both teams can walk away from the ground satisfied without being overly excited. Both teams will get better, but tonight, given a 65 point average losing margin, is it wrong to claim a 34 point victory?

Geelong 2.5       8.7       11.8                 19.11.125

Essendon         2.3       7.9       11.14               13.16.94

Goals:

Geelong

Mooney, Byrnes 3, Kelly, Ablett, Hawkins, Bartel, Johnson 2, Ling, Selwood, Ottens

Essendon

Watson, Davey, Zaharakis, Monfries 2, Howlett, Neagle, Stanton, Fletcher, Reimers

Best:

Geelong

Byrnes, Bartel, Selwood, Ling, Ablett, Lonergan, Corey

Essendon

Stanton, Fletcher, Watson, Zaharakis, Howlett

Crowd:

57,772

Votes:

3 – Shannon Byrnes – Geel.

2 – Jimmy Bartel – Geel.

1 – Brent Stanton – Ess.

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