AFL Semi Final – Geelong v North Melbourne: Let’s not forget who won

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Geelong versus North Melbourne

7.50pm, Friday 12 September

Melbourne Cricket Ground

It’s no surprise all the talk has been about the final ten minutes of this match given the football media’s love affair with Geelong. One report I read even went as far to suggest the Cats’ reputation, rather than damaged, has been enhanced through this defeat. I laughed out loud over my skinny latte. Truth is Geelong were ordinary. Besides Selwood and Hawkins, older players had the look of boxers who have climbed in the ring once too often, and Caddy was the only one of the new lot up for the fight. North Melbourne dominated for 3 ½ quarters, and final tremors aside, looked very much the preliminary final side they now are.

Given North’s fast finish against the Bombers the week before, they were expected to start well. Goldy, Spitter, Drew and Lindsay combined to score the first before the Members had time to adjust their complimentary blankets and call out ‘Go Catters!’ These names combined again and again in the first quarter as North piled on pressure and goals. Lindsay kicked three and Kelly and Mackie were both tried on him. Wellsy and Nicky Dal ran everywhere alone, collecting and delivering neatly. North had come to play.

Time-on goals to Geelong stopped the early panic, but at this point, this was pretty much one way footy.

The free scoring was plugged in the second term. Geelong finally arrived and parked the ball in their forward line for the first five minutes. However, they weren’t able to score and when Boomer carried the ball down field to Brown Dog who gave it to Drew for a goal, I sensed from my seat in front of the Long Room, that North had seen off a major challenge.

North dominated the remainder of the quarter around the ground, if not on the score board. Boomer* kicked the only other goal while carrying a guilty look after his bump on Selwood, and Kangaroo players went about establishing their own September reputations. Geelong gave away silly, frustrated frees. The lead was four goals at half-time.

North’s gut running continued in the third term. Sam Gibson – no.43 if you don’t know him – gathered in the back pocket, gave it off, ran flat out to the forward line where he had a hand in a goal. Wellsy was his graceful, gliding best and Nicky Dal showed poise and skill to goal on the end of a nice passage of play. Goldy towelled up Blicavs and would have done the same to anyone else thrown at him, maybe even Polly Farmer (yeah, I know). Spitter can’t kick over a jam tim, but cleared nearly every stoppage. Cunners was amongst it. If only he would run straighter towards goals when in possession, instead of always looking to give off sideways.

North were rampant and went for the kill. At times they pressed too hard, bombing high and long to the square when more patience was needed. Even without the injured Rivers who had limped off with a calf strain, Geelong’s defenders were able to clear.

Again, late goals, the most important a long set shot from Enright, kept the margin at four goals, but North were still in control.

As he’s done recently, Jack went forward and kicked two last quarter goals, stretching the lead to 32 points. It should have been more and the game dusted, but Black kicked three points for the term, and Levi, usually a dead-eye set shot, hit the post. All of this gave Geelong hope and as we know about the Cats, they always keep coming.

As Shakespeare said, human nature is a funny thing. On the back of six straight wins, this inconsistent, infuriating mob has become a believing, liberated, cohesive unit. The turn around came against Adelaide in Hobart, when North dug out a win against the Crows who had their season on the line. This is now a skilful team – something not said about North for many a day – able to clear efficiently and quickly from defence and find free options further up the field. Nicky Dal, who I was sceptical about when recruited, makes North look so much cleaner. Wells has purpose and pride in his play; Jack is a match winner; Spitter is fit again and emerging as a true leader; and Goldy is back to his best. Most of all, the even spread of contributors has inspired North’s recent form. Atley and Wright are no longer shy, faceless men, and Brown and Turner are making all Northerners smile.

GEELONG 5.1 5.6 8.9 13.14 (92)

NORTH MELBOURNE 7.1 9.6 12.9 14.14 (98)


Geelong: Hawkins 5, Walker 3, Duncan, Caddy, Blicavs, Enright, Bartel

North Melbourne: Petrie 4, Thomas 3, Ziebell 2, Turner, Goldstein, Harvey, Black, Dal Santo


Geelong: Selwood, Hawkins, Caddy.

North Melbourne: Dal Santo, Goldstein, Gibson, Petrie, Wells, Cunnington.

*Boomer got off! A victory for common sense and September tribunals


  1. Starkie, you are right about the hysteria surrounding Geelong.
    There is no doubt they are a good side but North did not deserve to lose.
    The umpires were ordinary, and I never criticise them. To be fair, the umpires were also ordinary at Subiaco the following night so at least they are consistent.
    While watching the replay I counted five free kicks missed inside North’s forward 50 and that was the second half alone.
    Geelong, though, are a great side. Or should that be were?
    What would Jimmy Bartell be worth as a trade?

  2. The People's Elbow says

    Have bookmarked this to try and read again later this afternoon.

    Couldn’t get past the “skinny latte” bit…

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Re our earlier private discussion Andrew on should the Bulldogs merge with the Roos.
    Forget what I said about being gun-shy about mergers. I now think it would be good for both Clubs and I have forgotten about 1989 already. I am now willing to meet over a latte and thrash out the details…perhaps the day after North Melbourne wins the Grand Final.

  4. Peter Fuller says

    This is a very fair summary, impressively so for some-one with a dog in the fight. North were far the better team, and it’s a miracle Geelong came so close.
    Your observation about the season’s turn around is highly relevant, as I’m sure North supporters were suffering extreme anguish at the inconsistency of the team’s week-to-week performance early- and mid-season.
    I don’t watch them often, but the Roos do seem to be building a strong team. Providing the group of mid-20s players continue their development, the future looks bright for you, irrespective of the outcome on Friday. My particular favourite is Greenwood – highly skilled and very brave.

  5. Well played A Starkie.
    And necessarily so.
    A sadly apt heading.
    Might have got lost in the rush to bestow knighthood on J Selwood this week, too.
    On the tele I was watching, as he trotted past a field umpire with blood trickling in a familiar course down his head, he squealed: “Boomer got me. Boomer.”

    Wouldn’t a knight of the realm jog nonchalantly past, sharing nary a glance at officialdom?

    Yet today, J Selwood is praised again, this time for apparently helping Boomer to get off.
    Adios, djw, Yarra falls end.

  6. AS,

    Yes, you are dead right. North dominated the game for most (nearly all) of it.

    So why did they win by just 6 points? And nearly fell to a draw – Hawkins spills one with a minute to go, Mackie overlap is butchered (by Mackie).

    We can wonder about the reputation of Geelong, but for this week the 6-point victory is the issue.

    I am now the archetypal neutral re Syd-NM: barracking for a cracking game.

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good report , Andrew in relation to senior players a certain , Chappy may well be smiling on the inside not what about me , should have kept me . North wise the player who really impressed me was , Brown his footy smarts re knocking the ball on , subtly opening a path physically reminded me of , Mathew Robran . Vickery and Jenkins could learn a lot from watching this kid . My beef with , North is Dumont can really play it worries me the Roos are the wrong club for him . Good luck Friday Night may J take K Tippett to the cleaners !

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    E.regnans is absolutely spot on about the ‘Knight of the realm’.

    Enjoyed the report Andrew. Good luck this week.

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Sorry Neil, think we’re travelling ok for the moment. Speak to me next year. Seriously though, it’s something I’ve considered for a while now.

    Malcolm – my emails to you always bounce back. Yep, Brown Dog is a ripper. A real find. His smile after his first goal in the seconf term against Ess gave me hope we weren’t done with.

    E. r. – all credit to JS for helping Boomer out.
    Peter – I love Levi; couldn’t believe he missed that set shot. usually a certainty.

    Thanks Luke.

  10. Starkers, Sorry your boys didn’t really get into the game v Swans last night, and very glad it was you and not the Cats. Could have been ugly (er?) Thought though that it was lost in the middle. I watched with the sound down (visitors) but it seemed a lot of your mid-fielders and smalls generally went missing. I liked that the coach tried to win the game but as soon as those Swans forwards were one-out their North opponents were in strife – because anyone is in strife in that situation. I admire Scott Thompson’s endeavour. Geelong would benefit were he still on their list.

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