AFL Pre-season – Geelong v Essendon: Comeback Cats Claim First Win

In their last dress rehearsal before the season begins, the Cats and Bombers make their way onto Queen Elizabeth Oval in the sweltering 30-degree heat. It seems everyone from the historical town of Bendigo has made their way to the game. The ground looks immaculate, surrounded by charming period style buildings and an eager crowd of over 8,000.


It’s great to see the banned Essendon players back in the red and black, especially Jobe Watson. And the Cats … in their strange new white tops. Is it just me or do the big bodies of the AFL make the community grounds seem smaller?


The game starts at the odd time of 4.10 pm (a portion of the crowd are still lining up to get into the ground, which is a shame) and it’s evident both teams are hungry for their first win of 2017. The pressure is immense in the opening minutes. Geelong are inefficient going forward, their kicking yet again an issue, and the Dons punish them on the rebound, drawing first blood with a James Stewart goal. Jobe Watson is busy early and the cult hero, McDonald-Tipungwuti, looks electric, flying through  packs and slotting goals—keep your eye on his guy, he’s going to do some damage up forward this year.


The Harry Taylor experiment is off to a horrendous start with his first set shot on goal the worst I’ve seen for some time. I’m not sure about Taylor’s transition forward, we may just see his magnet sliding back into defence sometime soon.


An early hamstring injury to ruckman Matthew Leuenberger sours things for Essendon, but that doesn’t stop them gaining the ascendency and peppering the scoreboard with goals—two of them coming from the capable-looking James Stewart.


The Cat’s forward line inefficiency continues with their first goal not coming until to the 22 minute mark. Geelong knew this was a problem in 2016, it seems little has been done to rectify it over the summer break. To make matters worse, Geelong are getting murdered at stoppages despite Essendon being down a ruckman, and their defence is looking leaky, conceding 5 goals from a mere 11 forward-line entries.


The Bombers are moving the ball fluently and taking much better advantage of their opportunities. At quarter time, Essendon have doubled Geelong’s score and lead by 16 points, even with four less inside-50s.


The second quarter starts with a great goal from McKernan and a lot of finger pointing is going on in the Geelong camp. Essendon’s pressure continues to cause costly turnovers for the Cats. The Bombers look like they’re loving their footy; everything they do is with excitement and fervour. Geelong on the other hand look like they have some other place they’d rather be.


Essendon are giving their forwards beautiful service and push their lead out to five goals. Joe Daniher looks formidable with a round-the-corner torpedo that sails through for a goal—he looks set for a big 2017. It looks like a one-sided affair is on the cards.


After another shocking attempt on goal from Harry Taylor, I’m ready to pull the pin in this experiment. If he wants to be a forward, maybe they should have checked whether he can actually kick? The humiliated Taylor does the right thing and drags himself to the bench.


Geelong wrestle back some momentum with Menzel snapping truly, but they’re making kicking goals look as difficult as advanced calculus. At half time the Don’s go in with a commanding 39-point lead. A spray might be imminent from Cat’s coach Chris Scott.


The start of the second half brings a dramatic shift in attitude. Geelong are lively and bursting out the centre like a white wave. Lead by their skipper, Joel Selwood, and Brownlow Medallist, Patrick Dangerfield, the Cats kick three goals in two minutes!


Who saw this coming? Have the teams swapped jumpers?


The Cats needed to respond and boy have they! They’re dominating stoppages and the forward-line entry count is as lopsided as a one-manned see-saw. The Cats have cut the half time lead of 39-points to two goals in just five minutes!


A lot of laboured breathing and hands on hips can be seen from the Bomber’s players. Have they run out of legs already? That year off may have taken its toll.


Hawkins has the ball on a string and kicks four in the quarter, his last two coming in a minute. Menzel slots a goal after being held on the boundary to take the lead at the 25 minute mark of the third quarter.


Selwood adds a late goal to make it a seven point margin at the last break.


The last quarter is an arm wrestle until McKernan snaps an unlikely goal out of the ruck in the goal square, finally breaking the stalemate at the 9 minute mark to bring the margin back to a single point. But Menzel gives a quick reply with his third major, and then a costly turnover in Essendon’s defensive half leads to a Murdoch goal. A spectacular mark from Lincoln McCarthy seals the game and caps off an unlikely comeback for the Cats, running out 22-point winners.


It’s hard to say whether the Bombers ran out of legs or whether they were just experimenting in the second half. The first few rounds of the season will answer that question.


For Geelong, much of last year’s criticism came from their heavy reliance on Dangerfield and Selwood—the famous “Dangerwood”. As it was these two players who sparked that scintillating third quarter comeback, it raises the inevitable question: has anything changed in Geelong over the off season? Judging on today’s performance, it appears not.


GEELONG       0.2.4     0.5.7    1.13.10    1.17.11   (122)
ESSENDON      0.5.2     2.9.5     2.11.6     2.12.10   (100)


Hawkins 4, Menzel 3, Selwood 2, Cockatoo 2, Taylor, Murdoch, Horlin-Smith, Lang, Murdoch, McCarthy
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 4, McKernan 2, Stewart 2, Daniher 2, Langford, Ambrose


 Selwood, Dangerfield, Mackie, Tuohy, Hawkins
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti, McKernan, Watson, Merrett, Stewart


Umpires: Eleni Glouftsis, Justin Schmitt, Leigh Fisher


Official crowd: 8,391 at Queen Elizabeth Oval.



  1. Does playing in training t-shirt tops stop the Cats from gearing up for the match OR will they do a Clerk Kent to Superman transition in Round 1?

  2. Geelong will not make the 8 in 2017.

  3. Yes they will.

  4. errr, if Dangerfield or Selwood gets hurt……………..

  5. Is Dennis Marshall still playing?

  6. Bob Utber says

    An accountant making a prediction?
    If not who then Dips?
    Sacre Bleu mom Amis

    Firm Citrus Bob in Villers-Bretennaux
    Getting ready for a footy clinic at Victoria School

  7. C’MON Dips. If we don’t finish Top 4 I’m handing back this keyboard to the Bendigo FNL.
    And Frank: we live a 5-minute walk down elm tree-lined heritage streets from the Q.
    There wasn’t a car park space available anywhere near home from midday or 12.30 pm Sunday.
    In case Harmsy and mates haven’t heard: Benders is now 115,000 people, a figure given to me at the weekend just gone by a senior City of Greater Bendigo staff member.
    We’ve left Ballarat floundering in our wake. Having a $690 mill. brand new hospital has helped in bolstering the population figure and handed brand spanking employment opportunites to many, many newbies.

  8. Citrus – I make predictions all the time. Like, for example, I predict that the Indians will doctor the pitch for the next Test.

    My 8 – GWS, Swans, West Coast, Dogs, Crows, Saints, Hawks, Dees. Unlucky – Pies and Cats.

  9. Neil Anderson says

    It must have been the Brisbane and Melbourne win against the Dogs in the JLT series. The poor old Dogs have slipped another rung according to Nostradamus-Dips.
    I agree with your final-eight pretty much but without the Eagles quite so high. They’re down to big Drew as the main ruckman and I think Geelong might just scrape in with Danger leading the way.
    The Dogs have won the big one last year but now they face the biggest hurdle of all. Trying to beat Geelong.

  10. Richard Jones says

    I KNOW it’s impossible electronically, Dips, but I’d love some of what you’re on.
    The Dees and the Saints in the finals ?? C’mon.
    Doubt that either will beat the Tiges, and they’ll be 9th. Again.
    Of course the Cats will be Top 8. Harry at CHF not looking so great, and admittedly Boris and Bartel have retired.
    And Caddy was lost to the aforesaid Tiges in an absolutely ridiculous decision. Of those 3, Boris will be the biggest and hardest felt loss.
    As Neil said above Catters belted the Dogs. Not once, but twice in 2016.
    Rd. 13 @ Etihad: 16.4 to 5.13 and Rd. 19 @ Skilled 16.7 to 11.12. Suck on those 2 results !!

  11. Stephen Alomes says

    Profound dialectic award to Dips and JTH for their first postings above! Or is it the Burton and Taylor Virginia Woolf award compressed for our SMSy times?

  12. Richard Jones says

    FOR my fist foray back on local radio next Wed. I’m going for:-
    Top 8: GWS, Swannettes, Dogs, Catters, Crows, West Coast, Hawks, FlagPies.
    Big sliders: North Melbourne.
    Ninth: Tigers, naturally. Spoon: Carlton, maybe BrisVegas. No: BlueBags.

  13. Richard – Caddy going to the Tigers is a good thing. His kicking efficiency is about the same as mine was at the Montmorency under 12s.

    I’m very bullish about the Saints. Not so much about the Dees, but they SHOULD win enough games.

    My problem about Geelong is that if you take out Dangerwood, or Selfield, our midfield becomes a bottom 5 or 6 midfield.

    And as for the Cats belting the Dogs twice in 2016, both times is was because the Doggies had been ravaged by injuries either during the game (Kardinia park) or before the game (Docklands).

  14. Richard Jones says

    TOUGH titties, Dogs, about injuries either beforehand or during the game.
    They lost both games to the Cats. It’s there for all to read.
    I was never swept up in the 2016 hype about the Doggies, Two flags since 1925 entry into VFL/AFL sez it all IMHO. Altho’ they did beat Sydney and we couldn’t. I was sick of hearing (let alone reading) about them.
    Still it’s prolly better to lose a prelim than a Big Dance!
    On our midfield. Now I’m no fan of Mitch Duncan — he’s only fair — but the elder Guthrie, Motlop (at times and provided he’s switched on), Cockatoo and maybe Murdoch should give Dangerwood a spell from time to time. Guthrie is a real, emerging talent.
    I agree that the mids depth isn’t overly great but who else has even got a Danger or a Sellie. Or a combination of the 2 ??
    I must have been a much bigger wrap for Caddy than you.
    He’s tough, uncompromising and doesn’t take a backwards step — let alone a backwards glance..

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