AFL Round 17: Cats’ win heals at least some of the wounds of 2008

By Anthony Jensen

On Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of squeezing onto an atmospheric V-Line train, surrounded by the Geelong faithful, and joined them to watch the team I love host the reigning premiers on a clear winter’s day at the home of footy, the MCG, and get home by the barest margin that this great game allows us.
The behind kicked by Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel after the siren capped off a stunning comeback by Geelong, who went into the final quarter 22 points down and kicked the last 5 goals. Jimmy’s minor score was the only difference between a resurgent Hawks and a backs-to-the-wall Cats after they engaged in 120 minutes of finals-like football.
GEELONG 4.2, 6.5, 10.6, 15.9 (99)
HAWTHORN 3.3, 8.7, 13.10, 14.14 (98)

GEELONG: Rooke 3, Mooney 2, Hawkins 2, Ablett, Chapman, Ling, Selwood, Varcoe, Corey, Hogan, Stokes
HAWTHORN: Franklin 5, Roughead 2, Brown 2, Osborne, Lewis, Rioli, Bateman, Guerra

GEELONG: Selwood, Ablett, Ling, Mumford, Corey, Mackie, Enright
HAWTHORN: Franklin, Guerra, Mitchell, Lewis, Sewell

GEELONG: Scarlett (groin), Taylor (groin), Bartel (hip)
HAWTHORN: Osborne (foot)

CROWD: 64,803 at MCG
UMPIRES: FIELD: Ray Chamberlain (18), Scott Jeffery (29), Shane McInerney (30). EM: Troy Pannell (28)
BOUNDARY: John Morris, Gerard Large, Shane Jones, Adam Coote
GOAL: Jason Venkataya, Chelsea Roffey EM: Luke Walker

The game has sounded the death knell for Hawthorn who now face St Kilda and Adelaide in their run to the finals, which they will most likely miss. It also showed that this Geelong side has loads of heart and will never give up even when their chips, or key defenders, are down.
It started positively enough for the Cats, who got the jump on their opposition and drew first blood through a Tom Hawkins mark and goal. Hawkins took two other strong “clunk” grabs during the term, as well as getting a few taps in the ruck, and looks to be gaining in stature, quite a feat for the huge man.
Cam Mooney also marked on a lead and kicked truly from outside 50, and when Max Rooke added his second for the term from even further out, Geelong looked set to demolish Hawthorn who had hardly recognised the Sherrin.
And thus began the Lance “Buddy” Franklin Show for the afternoon, as the spearhead marked on a strong lead in front of Harry Taylor and, from the boundary on the wrong side for a left footer, steered one home from the arc and pumped up his responsive team mates. Majors to Jarryd Roughead and Michael Osborne got Hawthorn back to within 5 points at the first change.
From there, not much went right for Geelong including a rare swing and miss handball attempt from Joel Corey which gifted Jordan Lewis a goal, and a crash and bang marking contest between Mooney and Tom Murphy which spilled the ball into the path of Hawks’ runners.
And then, of course, along came Buddy.
The best tall forward in the comp kicked a magnificent goal hard up on that same “wrong” side for a left footer, making supporters and opponents alike shake their heads in amazement. As if to one-up himself, he then dribbled one through from almost the same spot which is clearly his favourite, followed by a more regulation goal minutes later, and Buddy had three for the quarter. He would finish with five and nearly did enough to win this one off his own boot.
Roughead was not as accurate and missed two pretty easy shots, but Geelong’s back six were clearly struggling. Minutes after replacing Harry Taylor on Franklin, Matthew Scarlett limped down the race with a groin complaint and didn’t seem likely to return.
When the rarest of rare turnovers by Joel Selwood, the worst of his otherwise damaging 42 disposals, set up Campbell Brown with an easy goal, Geelong were 14 points down at half-time but it seemed like 6 goals.
Despite an early snapped goal from Paul Chapman, things continued to get worse. Taylor too hobbled off the ground with groin problems and would take no further part. The Cats were down to just two on the bench with Andrew Mackie given the mammoth task on Franklin, and Tom Lonergan lined up on Roughead. With no Josh Hunt nor Tom Harley, the defence had never been so vulnerable.
Both Franklin and Roughead capitalised on the lack of tall experienced opponents and goaled from inside 50. The Hawks were building momentum and always had a reply when Geelong asked the question.

A settling 40m snapped goal came from Cameron Ling, who also did a stellar job in keeping gun Norm Smith medallist Luke Hodge to just 11 measly touches. Gary Ablett, at his best and taking a breather in the goal square, got on the end of one but the Hawks replied in spades with late goals to Brown and Chance Bateman.
Seemingly down, but never out, Geelong were 22 points down going into the final term.
When Brent “The Rug” Guerra slotted home a nice goal from near the boundary, the Hawks’ 28-point lead looked insurmountable. But someone forgot to tell Geelong that, in particular Joel Corey who had a sensational quarter including an atypical long-bomb goal. A goal to 5th-gamer Simon Hogan, and a great ruck contest from Shane Mumford to set up a pouncing Travis Varcoe to score, really showed the depth in this side.
Mathew Stokes kept a cool head when he received a handball from Hawkins and nailed a goal home.  Hawthorn had lost its lead but tried desperately to get the win.
A quick bunt on the opposite foot of Corey magically found its way to Bartel on a tight angle close to goal, and the script couldn’t have been written any better. Around 64,000 fans held their breath, half awaiting the inevitable triumph, half hoping for the impossible miss. We watched it sail through the middle of some big sticks, it didn’t matter which ones, and it went some ways to heal the wounds of Grand Final day, 2008.

About Ben Jensen

Geelong fanatic back in town after a few years away.

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