Half Way Cat Report

Pre-season Gee Town summary recap:

 

Raised (my) perennial questions about the team’s hunger, the coach’s possible disinterest in motivational aspects, and our handball tactics. Backline retirements posed new queries.

 

Would we just continue successful mediocrity? I very cautiously speculate a bit of cellar-dwelling might prove beneficial. Some interpret that as seeking draft picks, but I was about resetting hunger. Recent pointy-end failures had failed to do that, coming, as they had, on the back of premiership success.

 

If there’s a hunger-deficit to what extent are coaching staff responsible? If our best is good enough why aren’t we at our best when it matters?

 

Pre-season/JLT:

 

Doesn’t inspire confidence – not because we lose matches – but because handball statistics still writ too large – more of the blighters than kicks.

 

The name of the game is ‘football’, isn’t it?

 

2018 Season – first half:

 

Refreshingly and surprisingly, our handball game is given the flick-pass, disappeared between JLT and MCG round 1. Handballed away, if not completely out of existence.

 

Promisingly, the inexperienced backs save that match against the Dees.

 

The Hawks beat us in another thriller – but the rematch will say more about how both teams have progressed this year.

 

The Eagles encounter in Perth reveals recent characteristic Cats – combine a flat start with an inspiring burst of brilliance, but once in front stop doing what got us there.

 

The wins over Port and GWS have me sitting up, impressed. Four-quarter efforts, desperation, skill. Can I start to dream?

 

However, we step backwards into the first quarter against Sydney, gain control, are then lulled into a false sense of victory, so we lose.

 

Like a recurring nightmare, the handball game reappears at the ‘G in the Pies clash – not in numbers, but in their inappropriateness. An unsightly engagement that might’ve been more watchable at the ground, but on telly is frustrating. We win uglier than Hewitt at Wimbledon.

 

Umps don’t win games, but they can certainly influence ebbs and flows. Against North, a one-sided adjudication possibly meant victory by a smaller margin – percentage consequences? Chris Scott usually blames the players for indiscipline in these instances, but this time he implies the umps overacted to accusations of bias to home teams (I think similarly, and that it was typical they used Kardinia Park to experiment). A convincing win nonetheless.

 

Mind’s a blank about the Blues battle, the Saints stoush goes according to form, and the less said about the Bombers the better – except that it has ‘Groundcat Day’ written all over it. Inner glow restored against the Suns, along with percentage.

 

‘Menzel is a gun,’ says a Sainter mate. Henry surprises, Ratugolea excites and Kelly amazes.

 

The Tigers tussle enthralls how matches always once used to. The ball was never kicked sideways-and- backwards for long enough periods for my mind to wander and start to recall how fans booed that tactic when it was first employed.

 

The game is called ‘Aussie Rules’, not ‘keepings off’, right?

 

Richmond is too strong and instinctive, in the end, a bit too good. They are faster to react, particularly in second efforts – as I’ve been prone to say, ‘quick thinking is as important as leg speed’. But we will have learned much from that loss.

 

I carp on about the mental aspects of the game, because when most other things are roughly equal it’s the difference between success and failure. Desire decides.

 

Along with desire, sometimes a team gains a brief advantage deploying a particular style of play. The Richmond trademark seems to be the instinctive, quick-kick, with fast ball-drop and stabbing motion (not a stab-pass, as such, because it’s done under pressure with less deliberation, but it serves a similar purpose). Whether they trained for it, or players just emulated Dustin Martin, I’d be curious to know.

 

Joel Selwood does it sometimes too?

 

Mid-term final verdict:

 

Not yet reaching potential, but showing promise. Chris Scott looks assured, though would like him to publicly defend players more than he does sometimes. Probably downplays wins too often, as lucky etc.

 

Overall, I’ve seen enough to suggest we can be more than successfully mediocre, especially once some experienced players return from injury. Though, the elephant it still in the change room.

 

Is it hungry?

 

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Comments

  1. Does 9th or 10th sound an appropriate finish Paul ? It’s the games a finals contender shouldn’t lose that bites them on the bum. Even home town matches like against Carlton should have been percentage boosters, not scrappy narrow wins.

    As a former Cats supporter I surmised the return of ‘the son of GOD’ gave youse a powerful triumvirate in the midfield: possibly, but your other weaknesses expose you. Final year for Taylor, how many more for Hawkins? After consecutive preliminary finals a grand final tilt seemed a reality, but it’s not going to happen.

    As they say; always next year.

    Glen!

  2. george smith says:

    Interesting to watch this morning. Geelong, my auntie’s team, the hope of the western district, what’s not to love? Footscray the obnoxious blowhards from years past in spite of their exemplary premiership…

    Sadly Geelong are rivals for that fourth spot us success starved Magpies want so badly. So I was in the surreal position of barracking for the Dogs. Harry Taylor’s mark at the last and miss brought home how cruel footy can be. Remembrance of misses past against our mob – Ralph 1984, Sumich 1990 and of course Milne in 2010. Copper-top grandson of Ron Richards – that ball was headed dead between the point posts when it suddenly veered left and through for a goal. His great uncle would be skiteing for years. Congratulations to both teams for a ripper game.

  3. Paul Spinks says:

    Glen:
    After last night’s game I’m thinking ‘mediocre failure’ might be more likely and you could be right with your ladder prediction. The Bullies were brilliant, but too many bad habits crept into our game and, unfortunately, the coach can’t seem to see what’s staring him in the face. The return of the SOG might have had the reverse-psychological effect of making midfield individuals think they didn’t have to work as hard with all that talent?

    George:
    Must’ve been a great game to watch for the neutrals and Doggie fans. Richards is a ripper. Maggies are a bit like the Moggies – can look like world beaters at times then throw in a no-show, but I’m with any team that takes the game on and plays with urgency so all power to Pies if they can do that consistently. Hope your auntie has a smile on her dial next week :)

  4. “Sad to announce
    The sorrowful sounds
    A point or a trounce
    All still amounts
    To a win for the hounds
    After a bye – it’s dead Cats bounce”

  5. Paul Spinks says:

    Cats do counter
    History tends
    Or Swans to saunter
    Immaterial trends?

    We’ll wait and see
    Peter B
    Mid season slumbers
    Or making up numbers

  6. Paul, as a former Cats supporter i was glad i only channel surfed the TV on Friday night checking scores every 10-15 minutes. If i’d seen the defeat taking place i don’t know how i would have functioned.

    From my memory of Geelong teams losing the unlosables, that defined a season out of September action, this strikes me as one of those matches. I think back to the loss to Richmond @ VFL Park in round 21 1985, the home loss against St Kilda in 1988, consecutive losses on the road in 1990, after leading at 3/4 time; these following the loss to Richmond at Kardinia Park when Geelong kicked 9-28. The home ground loss to Melbourne, the last time Geelong missed the finals.

    I may be wrong but these are the losses that remain in the craw for a long time after the actual event.

    Glen!

  7. Paul Spinks says:

    You’re right, Glen: the game against the Bullies did have that feel about it – not so much because it was unloose-able – more because of what it meant in regards to the season and heads being right.
    So much so, I felt the need to write another post.
    But it’s all intriguing stuff in the end, and was an enjoyable round of footy.

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