Round 17 – GWS v Geelong: Manuka sun…Canberra magic moments – Cats master the Giants of Two Homes


Round 17 GWS Giants vs Geelong Cats  by Steve Alomes*

Manuka Oval  Saturday 24 July 2015, 1.40pm


Oh Canberra winters. If you don’t get up early, unlike the Under 9s playing at 9.30 am, there is no frost on the ground. For the full crowd watching GWS host the Cats in the afternoon sun, it was delightful.


The beauty of Manuka Oval (pronounced ‘Maanuka’, not the NZ ‘Manuuka’) in the suburb which hosted Manning Clark, Lionel Murphy and the Petrovs (and no connection of the first two with the third, Quadrant readers please note) on a sunny winter day is unsurpassed.


A swirly wind, rather than cold gusts off the Brindabellas, made a continental 13 degrees enjoyable for the 14, 667 patrons, except for those in shade and for others when the sun retreated behind the clouds.


The Cats burst out of the blocks dominating the Inside 50s in the first quarter. There were loose men everywhere as they also dominated the contested and uncontested possessions and put pressure on the Giants all over the ground.


Except, the Cats also had loose kicks for goal everywhere, many simple shots from Inside 50 bringing up a single flag. With Palmer subbed off early with a hamstring corky (never good, and particularly risky in colder temps), the Giants big men stocks were further depleted.


As the Cats slowed the Giants down, as they did the Doggies the week before, bad kicking was bad football, at one stage the Cats kicking 9 of the last 10 scores – 1 goal 8 behinds!


Even after younger GWS players ‘lost it’ with the umpires, asking impossible questions which guaranteed blue and white frees, the Cats were only leading by 25 points at half time. It would have been more if Tomlinson hadn’t kicked straight 49 minutes after Keene’s magic over the head goal.


The Cats ‘on week’ (greatness one week, fumbling the next) came from the best player on the ground Motlop, the young star who played like the Cats’ premierships of yore (with the most disposals on the ground and 2 goals in the first half). He was supported by the old guard in defence– Enright, Taylor, Lonergan and Mackie and moving forward, Selwood, Bartel and Hawkins, who towered above everyone in orange. Stevie J had flashes of his past greatness, but the timing was only ‘almost there’ as he joined in the points game


Gradually, the Giants tightened up and returned the pressure, but still had trouble breaking the Cats’ zone. The game, like Canberra, had magic moments: big Tommy Hawkins’ unusually high mark and Green’s great mark in the second half. A visitor from Pluto, told that this game was between the 8th and 11th teams, might assume that the 8th team was in blue and white and the 11th team was in orange and white! Nor would they realise that the Cats had been the most accurate team in the League, and, easier to guess, that the Giants were the least.


The winds of fate were unkind to would-be goalkickers as the ball drifted to the wrong side of the post late in its journey. The Fates particularly knocked the Giants, despite playing better contested and attacking football during the third quarter, when several shots slipped away. The Giants’ improved defensive pressure helped ensure that no goals were scored until 17 minutes into the third quarter. However, chains of handballs and marks by the Giants suggested that Geelong was going into one of its ‘sleeps’, and the Giants finally hit the target from point blank range, now 16 points behind. Only a Hawkins mark and goal, his third straight, took the margin back to 22 points. As the Giants played better they won more free kicks, including several shots at goal (not ‘on goal’, Bruce McAvaney please note). However, their GPS had been switched off after Goulburn as several shots seemed aimed at the boundary line.


Treloar was picking up possessions and the Giants were in control early in the last stanza. As echoed in the words of the ever reliable Tim Lane, ‘they could not find the way home’. Hawkins’ fifth goal saw the Cats return to a 24 point lead. Simple errors hurt the Giants: a 50 metre penalty to Selwood after a Giant backman ran into the protected zone and a push in the back to Duncan finally took the Cats to a comfortable lead. More points from Hawkins, Caddy and Kelly did nothing to help the Cats’ poor percentage, as they must have been hoping that an Ablett-less Gold Coast could get over Adelaide.


Neither the young stars of GWS, Cameron, Smith, or Steele did enough, while the old hands, Callan, Scully, Patfull and Griffen also made little impact, with Heath Shaw the exception.


Finally, the Cats ran out winners by a comfortable 27 points. By then, after 4.00, the balmy winter sun had gone and the wind strengthened, the scarves and the gloves come out as the biggest ever Canberra crowd teemed from the terraces.


‘Semi-away’ games, like the Swans playing at ANZ Stadium, don’t always help the ‘Two Homes’ team, despite GWS’ growing Canberra support. Even on days when the July sun shines as brightly in South Canberra as in Windsor or Penrith.


At its best, Canberra with footy at Manuka is a great place, not just a ‘metonym’ for ‘taxes’ and ‘pollies’ or where tourist drivers and StarTrack couriers get lost on roundabouts.


Geelong Cats:    3.6   5.10 6.10 9.15.69

GWS Giants:       1.1.   2.3   4.6   6.6. 42



Geelong   Motlop, Hawkins, Selwood, Caddy, Enright, Bartel, Taylor

GWS        Treloar. Shaw, Tomlinson, Williams, Coniglio



Geelong Hawkins 5, Motlop 2, Selwood, Duncan

GWS      Steele, Tomlinson, Kelly, Downie, Lamb, Ward


* Steve Alomes has not graced Manuka grass in footy or cricket although he has trod ANU, Duntroon and Belconnen ovals in winter with ANU, and many frostier smaller ovals on the cold mornings when he was in white with a whistle.



  1. The boys on the radio (particularly Tim Lane) described this game as a “stinker”. Sounded like it too. Fumbles, bad kicking, poor decisions. Suppose the wind didn’t help.

  2. kath presdee says

    The wind certainly didn’t help. I couldn’t tell which way the wind was blowing until I saw its effect on a kick or it was blowing directly in my face. It changed so many times during the game it wasn’t funny.

  3. If you were out there it was a good afternoon at the footy – ground allows you to be close to the action – the old suburban footy experience. I don’t think it was an easy kick on the day – everyone seems to so used to playing in sheltered stadiums. (though Hawkins kicked 5:1 he was the only one who seemed to have mastered the conditions perhaps because he kicked hard and direct. Anyone who put it into the air could watch it wander around.

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