AFL Round 8: Geelong v North Melbourne

By Ben Jensen

Another chance to watch the Cats on Setanta this weekend — that’s two in a row! Unfortunately we had a prior engagement so had to “tape” the game and watch it the next morning. Due to an idiot neighbour hooking into our sat dish we’d had a few problems of late, so we were dismayed to see “partial recording only” when we got up to watch the game. It appeared most of the game had recorded, possibly without Channel Ten’s post-match coverage (we hoped). Most predictions were for the Cats to easily win this one ahead of their higher-stakes clash with the Bulldogs at Etched Stadium next weekend, and that’s pretty much what happened, the Cats running out winners by 70 points.

GEELONG 5.3, 12.5, 15.9, 18.11 (119)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2, 3.3, 6.6, 7.7 (49)
GEELONG: J Bartel 3, S Byrnes 3, A Mackie 2, T Varcoe 2, C Mooney 2, M Stokes 2, T Hawkins, C Ling, M Rooke, D Wojcinski
NORTH MELBOURNE: D Hale 2, H McIntosh 2, A Swallow, L Thomas, S Wright
GEELONG: (Cattery) Mackie, Johnson, Kelly, Bartel, Taylor, Byrnes; ( Johnson, Bartel, Kelly, Mackie, Selwood, Byrnes, Scarlett, Taylor, Blake.
NORTH MELBOURNE: Hale, McIntosh, Harding, Petrie, Ross, Gibson.
CROWD: 20,873 at Skilled Stadium, Geelong
FIELD: Hayden Kennedy (7), Justin Schmitt (17), Jacob Mollison (32). Emergency: Damien Sully (12).
BOUNDARY: Matthew Payton, Chris Gordon, Justin Bennison, Mitch Lefevre.
GOAL: Mark Canning, Adam Wojcik. Emergency: Peter Nastasi.
GEELONG: Milburn (ankle), Paul Chapman (back) replaced in selected side by Tom Lonergan.
NORTH MELBOURNE: Daniel Wells (hip) replaced in selected side by Ed Lower, Brady Rawlings (calf) replaced in selected side by Nathan Grima.
PREMATCH ODDS: Cats $1.02 to $1.08; Roos $8.50 to $9.00
One late change for the Cats, Paul Chapman pulling out with a sore lower back. His replacement, Tom Lonergan, lined up in the backline, with Joel Corey lining up in the midfield instead of down back. The Roos had two forced changes of their own, tagger Brady Rawlings and Daniel Wells, replaced by two debutants. One of those debutants, Sam Wright, hails from Katamatite, a wee town near Cobram that gave the Cats Darren Flanigan. Of course, other fairly famous recruits from the big smoke in Cobram were the Hocking brothers and John Barnes.
After a couple misses from Mathew Stokes and Cameron Mooney, Travis Varcoe opened up the goal scoring for the day, getting on the end of a string of handballs, goaling from about forty out. At the other end, David Hale, who caused massive problems last time with eight goals, kicked North’s first halfway through the quarter. Cam Mooney made amends for his first miss, converting a set shot from 35 out. Hawkins played a role in both goals.
With just under four minutes to go, Varcoe kicked his second goal, this time playing on from the most uncontested of uncontested marks at centre half-forward to slam it home; Andrew Mackie picked him out. Bartel kicked his first a minute or so later. Johnson brought the ball inside fifty, Hawkins was unlucky not to take a mark before the ball spilt to Bartel. Bartel had a second less than a minute later, on the end of a string of handballs, the goal looking inevitable, the margin now out to 25 points, where it remained at quarter-time.

Mooney slammed home his first from a free kick 35 out, slamming home not only the kick but perhaps his critics.
Mackie playing well, along with Varcoe, Bartel and Corey about Geelong’s best. Kelly, Mooney and Johnson also had plenty of impact, Johnson sitting around centre-wing rather than his customary role roaming with intent inside fifty. The backline hadn’t had a lot to do but Scarlett, Taylor and Lonergan were really tearing it up. Milburn and Wojcinski had spent a bit of time on the bench.
Max Rooke finished off another team goal for the Cats, the boy from Casterton another beneficiary of Johnson’s architecture from outside fifty. Stokes nearly had a contender for goal of the day, smothering an opponent’s handball, stepping around him, skirting the boundary line before firing in a shot from thirty out for a behind. Stokes did have his first a few seconds later, Hawkins again involved in a chain of possessions before Stokes out-smarting everyone to kick it on his left from the goalsquare among ten other players.
David Wojcinski slammed home another goal for the Cats thirty seconds later, accepting a handball from Corey just outside the centre square, slamming it home from 55 out, Mooney shepherding it through, the margin now 56 points. As a sideshow, highlighted by the commentators, Mooney had a third run-in (that we know of) with opponent, former Geelong VFL player Scott Thompson, this time appearing to give him a little nudge to the guts after the goal was given. After Stokes’s first goal Thompson sat on top of Mooney, who made have held him to him. Towards the end of the first quarter Mooney missed the ball by miles in a marking contest, and while from our view should escape sanction that may not stop him being investigated.
Lindsay Matt Thomas finally awakened the Kangaroos cheer squad, pouncing on a loose ball from a stoppage to cleverly dink home to an open goal square from just on fifty. Almost straightaway after the next ball-up, Mackie continued his good game, caressing a goal from outside fifty with the wind behind him. Hard to tell who Mackie has been playing on, whenever he has the ball there seems to be no North player near him. He AGAIN drifted down from half-back at the next ball-up, this time taking a mark just inside fifty. He may have rushed the kick but put it through the middle, just clearing the pack for his second. The margin now stood at 62 points. A charitable-ish free kick to Hale against Lonergan made the margin 56 points. By this stage Harry Taylor, who’d really had a good game, was having a spell on the bench with Joel Selwood having a spell down back, and actually had his own tagger despite playing in defence.
What is it with ordinary players getting heaps of tattoos? Today’s target is Edwards of North, but so far this season other candidates include Collingwood’s Dane Swan and former Hawk-Roo Jonathan Hay. No doubt plenty down at Freo, Melbourne and the Tigers but we don’t see them play often enough to know. Be that as it may, the Cats led 12.5 (77) to 3.3 (21) at the main break, Geelong scoring seven goals to North’s two, increasing their lead by thirty points.
Some more injury worries for the Cats; at half-time when Milburn emerged, it was to sit on the bench with his right foot bare and elevated, obviously taking no further part in the match. As always though, Dasher wore that trademark smile of his (possibly John Newcombesque, in that he really isn’t happy). Byrnes finally had his goal a couple minutes in, Ling pouncing on a mistake by North and Byrnes fed the handball by Enright to run into an open goal. The Roos dominated goal-scoring in the next ten minutes or so with two goals, one to ruckman Hamish McIntosh. The game then really took on boring status, neither Geelong nor North troubling the goal recorders until Wojcinski and Bartel made something out of nothing for his third. The Cats had just had a let-off after Hale missed a sitter of a set shot for his third, Geelong creating another “team goal” to push the margin back to 56 points. This really brought the game back to life, the Cats nearly scoring another after putting the North defenders under enormous pressure in their own forward line next passage of play, the Roos escaping with a touched behind.
Johnson continued to spend most of his time in the centre of the ground, his labours helping Byrnes to his second goal and should have got Mooney his second but he missed a set shot. Thompson continued his relaxed demeanour in the box (and why wouldn’t you?). His main problem will once again be who’s going to play down back, this time veteran Milburn being the injury worry. David Johnson may well make another appearance, or perhaps Kane Tenace will get a run, with Corey/Bartel playing off half-back and Tenace the extra midfielder.
Didn’t see much of Adam Simpson; Selwood too wasn’t that prominent (for him), he and Corey attracting the attention of taggers. The boy from Katamatite, Dale Thomas lookalike Wright, had his first AFL goal towards the end of the term, trimming the Cats’ lead to 57 points, which stood as the margin at the final break, the Cats outscoring the Roos by one behind that quarter. The game had lost all intensity by this point. Our pick of the best for the Cats to this stage were Johnson, Mackie and Kelly, with Varcoe getting an honourable mention. The third quarter was a day when the smaller players such as Kelly, Varcoe, Wojcinski, Byrnes and Stokes got plenty of the ball.
Byrnes booted his third three minutes into the final term, finishing off another team goal (an overused term but the best description). Rooke set it up, his third bone-crunching effort getting the ball to Byrnes whose split-second snap was a good one. Geelong’s mayor Cameron Ling had his first courtesy of Varcoe and Mooney, Mooney marking just on fifty but handballing to nearby Ling, who slotted home from outside the line to an open goal square.
The game was barely a game in the last seven or eight minutes. Absolutely nothing happening as the Cats racked up possession after possession. Stokes’ second rounded off a professional seventy-point win. The Cats play the Bulldogs in another “home” game at Etihad Stadium this Friday night.

KANGAROOS-affiliated North Ballarat out-gunned Geelong in the VFL match curtain-raiser earlier in the day. James Podsiadly kicked another big bag of goals, his third bag of five or more so far this season.

GEELONG 2.3 4.4 6.9 9.9 (63)
NORTH BALLARAT 3.4 9.8 12.8 17.9 (111)

NORTH BALLARAT: J. Smith 3, J. Spolding 3, B. Driscoll 2, D. Chester 2, C. Jones 2, M. Wundke 2, B. Goodes, W. Benjamin, T. Cartledge
GEELONG: J. Podsiadly 5, A. Varcoe, T. West, J. Laidler, J. Hollmer
NORTH BALLARAT : M. Sewell, B. Goodes, O. Stephenson, C. Garlett, C. Jones, T. Cartledge.
GEELONG: K. Tenace, J. Podsiadly, S. Hogan, D. Johnson, N. Djerrkura, J. Simpkin.

About Ben Jensen

Geelong fanatic back in town after a few years away.

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