AFL Finals — Week 1: Siren beats Bullies as Cats earn Preliminary Final spot

By Josh Barnstable

This couldn’t get any better. A nice spring day, two of the best teams in the league are battling it out on the grand stage of the MCG on a Saturday afternoon. It’s the Second Qualifying Final. The Bullies and the Kitties. The Dogs have their full side in minus Tom Williams, while the Cats are still missing Steve Johnson. Because the Doggies have a strong side, I boldly tip them to win this game, especially after beating Geelong by 14 points a couple of weeks earlier and losing by two points in Round Nine. I am surprised that the game is live, as the AFL announced that Channel 10 would not be allowed to show the game live. Good on them. Finals are meant to be shown live.  

The game starts and Ben Hudson, playing his 100th game, goals and the Dogs seem switched on. I find myself dumbstruck though. Harry Taylor kicks the first for the Cats. He has kicked half of his career goals against the Dogs. Andrew Mackie goals on the run from outside 50, Cam Mooney marks and snaps an easy goal and Mathew Stokes marks and goals, blowing the margin out to 21 points. Scott Welsh kicks a good goal, but goals to Mooney and Jimmy Bartel sees the margin out to 28 points at quarter time, 6.5 to 2.1. I’m seeing the Cats of the 2007 Grand Final. Corey Enright amassed a huge 17 possessions for the quarter, while Adam Cooney is on 8.

The second quarter starts and Paul Chapman goals early to take the margin out to 34 points and the game seems over. The Dogs hold their guard though, not conceding a goal for the rest of the half, but failing to put the pressure on the scoreboard. Shaun Higgins goals after a Geelong Runner infringement, while Josh Hill goals to cut the margin to 20 points at half time, 4.3 to 7.5.

The second half begins, and two goals to Jason Akermanis to start sees the margin cut to nine points. The Bulldogs look in charge. Cameron Ling goals from a tight angle from outside 50, while Brad Ottens marks his return with a strong mark and goal. Bartel kicks his second, but goals to Brad Johnson and Jason Akermanis cut the margin back to 17 points. Stokes kicks his second, Bartel kicks his third and Chapman boots his second to take the margin out to 35 points at three quarter time, 13.9 to 8.4.

The final quarter starts, and I feel for the Doggies. During the build-up of the game, they showed all the greats from the 1954 premiership win discussing the Grand Final with some of today’s Bulldog stars. But if they can’t beat Geelong, then they won’t be breaking any 55-year old droughts this year. Ryan Griffen goals from a set shot, followed by Johnson scooping up the remains of a Mackie fumble and kicks a goal from 50m out. The margin is 24 points. Perhaps the Dogs can win.

Enright, who has been superb all day, receives a handball in heavy traffic in the forward line. He throws the ball on his boot, the ball sails high in the air. It sails through for a goal. Cats out to a 29-point lead. Lindsay Gilbee marks and goals, followed by Higgins. The margin is 13 points, and the greats of 1954 urge them on. The siren beats them though. The Cats win by 14 points, 14.12.96 to 12.10.82.

All the talk about the Doggies being serious premiership contenders may end up all being absolutely bull. They play Brisbane in Melbourne next week, and the Lions are no easy beats. Perhaps they could be out in straight sets. The Cats, on the other hand, have a date with either Adelaide or Collingwood. I can’t see them in the Grand Final. I don’t think they have the ability to beat Collingwood, and I know some people might scoff at this, but the Adelaide forward line is too much for the Cats defence to handle. But we’ll see in the coming weeks.

Geelong 6.5—7.5—13.9—14.12.96
Western Bulldogs 2.1—4.3—8.4—12.10.82

Geelong-Bartel 3, Mooney 2, Stokes 2, Chapman 2, Taylor, Mackie, Ling, Ottens, Enright
Western Bulldogs-Akermanis 3, Johnson 2, Higgins 2, Hill, Gilbee, Griffen, Welsh, Hudson

Geelong-Enright, Scarlett, Ablett, Bartel, Ling, Mackie
Western Bulldogs-Cooney, Gilbee, Akermanis


74,007 at the MCG


3: Corey Enright (G)
2: Matthew Scarlett (G)
1: Gary Ablett (G)

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