AFL Round 9: Dogs may be the real deal after all

by Josh Barnstable

I am very nervous. I’m on the phone, waiting to be introduced. As I sit there, Kathy Bedford and Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan talk footy and are about to introduce me to the Friday Afternoon panel. Finally I’m given an introduction and my radio gig flows nicely. Asked for my tip on tonight’s game, I reply with the same answer everyone would be giving tonight: Geelong. But I would love to see the Western Bulldogs knock the Cats off.

The important side-story to this match is Jason Akermanis’ 300th game. It’s been an interesting career for Aka, with a lot of highs and a lot of lows. That mouth of his has caused just a bit of trouble through his career. The first quarter begins and the Cats start well, with goals to the returning Paul Chapman and Joel Selwood sinking a goal from 50m out. The Dogs reply through Brad Johnson after catching a ball flying straight at his face in the goalsquare. He immediately chucked it on the boot and it sailed through for the Doggies first goal of the match. Steve Johnson kicked the next two goals through a free kick and a mark in the goalsquare before Daniel Giansiracusa marked and goaled. Goals to Mathew Stokes and Chapman again saw the margin out to a dangerous 4 goals. A late goal to Aka after taking a strong mark saw the margin reduced to 20 points at quarter time, 3.2 to 6.4. Selwood has racked up 13 touches while Gary Ablett, returning from an adductor injury, has 12 possessions. For the Doggies, Johnson has 9 disposals while Lindsay Gilbee is on 8 possies.

The 2nd quarter gets underway and the Dogs are on fire early, kicking the first 4 goals through Giansiracusa, Hill and two goals to Johnson saw the Bulldogs in front. The Cats ran away though, kicking goals to Stokes twice and Ryan Gamble before the young forward was stretchered off after hitting the deck with his head very hard. As the teary-eyed Gamble was carried off, things looked a bit harder for Geelong. The monster was bleeding. A late goal to Cooney didn’t help the Cats’ cause and the margin at half time was 13 points in favour of Geelong but the Doggies were charging, 9.10 to 8.3. Ablett ran amok in that quarter, picking up 13 touches to take his tally to 25 while Selwood is on 17 possessions. For the Dogs, Matthew Boyd and Johnson are on 16 and 15 touches respectively.

The second half began and the Cats started to take the ascendancy, kicking the first 4 goals through Johnson, Chapman, Max Rooke and Johnson again to take the margin to 37 points. The Dogs replied through Ryan Griffen before Stokes snapped a goal from 25m out to take the margin back out to 6 goals. Akermanis kicked truly before he slotted a beauty from close to the boundary line to cut the margin to 22 points at three quarter time, 11.8 to 14.12. Ablett is up to a massive 32 touches while Selwood is on 27 possessions. For the Bulldogs, Akermanis is on 21 disposals while Johnson and Boyd are on 20.

The 4th quarter got underway and the Dogs booted the first goal through Griffen to cut the margin to 16 points. The Cats answered though, with Johnson gathering the ball, evading an opponent and snapping his 5th goal. The Dogs fired though, with Will Minson taking a strong mark and converting from a tight angle and Nathan Eagleton kicking a long goal from outside 50 on the run, defiantly a contender for goal of the match, the margin was just 8 points. Jimmy Bartel came to the rescue for the Cats with a snap goal to take the margin out to 14 points. The Dogs weren’t finished yet though, with Johnson and Akermanis, the two oldest players on the Bulldogs’ list, marking and kicking a goal to cut the margin to just 3 points with little time left on the clock. Travis Varcoe swooped onto a loose ball and snapped a brilliant goal to take the margin back out to 9 points. Still the Dogs came though, with young Liam Picken snapping a great goal with 1:04 left on the clock, 3 points the difference Geelong’s way. The ball spent the final minute in the Doggies forward line, but the Cats were able to repel every attack on goal. This was before Mitch Hahn gathered the ball on the boundary line, kicking towards the goals and was marked on the behind line by the skipper, Brad Johnson. Perhaps one of the best players on the ground, he attempted to play on and snap the goal with just a second left on the clock. The umpire called him back though and put him on his very acute angle to take the shot. He opted for the check-side, and as he ran in to take his shot, the siren blared, not that anyone could hear it for the cheering of the spectators. He kicked and missed! The 2nd time in exactly a year that he has missed a shot after the siren to win the game. The Cats had held on to win by 2 points in a brilliant game of football, 17.14.116 to 17.12.114. Ablett picked up a massive 38 touches on his return game from injury while Selwood collected 32 possessions. For the Dogs, Boyd had 28 disposals while Daniel Cross and Eagleton had 26 possessions each.

So, after an absolute thrilling game of football, the best of the season so far, I wonder if Geelong is starting to deteriorate, or are the Dogs a real Premiership contender? Another thing I wonder is whether Akermanis will play on after 2009. 4 goals and 25 touches in his 300th to go with his other outstanding performances so far this year should see him at least consider playing on next year, something he thought he would certainly not do earlier in the year.

Geelong 6.4—9.10—14.12—17.14.116

Western Bulldogs 3.2—8.3—11.8—17.12.114


Geelong-Johnson 5, Stokes 4, Chapman 3, Rooke, Selwood, Gamble, Varcoe, Bartel

Western Bulldogs-Akermanis 4, Johnson 4, Griffen 2, Giansiracusa 2, Hill, Cooney, Picken, Minson, Eagleton


Geelong-Ablett, Johnson, Selwood, Chapman, Stokes, Enright, Corey, Kelly

Western Bulldogs-Akermanis, Johnson, Boyd, Cross, Giansiracusa, Griffen, Eagleton, Gilbee


44,620 at Etihad Stadium


3 Votes: Jason Akermanis (WBD)

2 Votes: Gary Ablett (GEEL)

1 Vote: Brad Johnson (WBD)

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