Round 2 – GWS v Geelong: Prophetic



by Bruce Kennedy


On the evening before the game, Tim ‘Bluey’ McGrath spoke to around 80 faithful Cats fans at Canberra’s Southern Cross Club at Woden. In answer to a question, he made an emphatic statement that Geelong for years had been smashed at the stoppages, and that this had not been addressed adequately. The reason Geelong did not overcome the Giants in this match is that it was smashed at the stoppages. This was never more evident than in the second term when the Giants made their break to open up a 22-point gap between the sides. The Cats were burnt by one of their discards, giant ruckman Shane Mumford. Since Brad Ottens retired, Geelong have had serious trouble in the ruck.

It is agony for Cats fans to watch this all happen. Again. For Giants fans, they lapped it up.

Canberra turned on a perfect autumn afternoon and the game was a sell-out, as it was when the teams met at Manuka last year. The standard of play this time was a vast improvement, very watchable, depending on your persuasion. Regardless of the stoppages dilemma, Geelong screwed up a string of scoring chances early. After a goal in the first minute, the next five shots at goal yielded three measly points. In fact that goal was the Cats’ only one for the term. The Giants capitalized on their far fewer forays forward. Canberra Catter Barry, a dab hand on his mobile, texted ‘the Cats had most of the play but their kicking was atrocious. [Steve] Motlop has had 10 kicks and wasted every one’.

‘It will come back to bite us’, I replied. Motlop wasn’t the only transgressor.

Remarkably, Geelong popped through the first goal of the second quarter within a minute, then the Giants took over. During what turned out to be the crucial 15 minutes of the contest, when they impressively added three goals, they won the ball from 11 straight stoppages.

‘Their little guys are too fast. Mumford dominating’, wailed Barry. Geelong had nobody to match the pace of Tom Scully, Ryan Griffen and Toby Greene. And later, ‘Griffen 29 disposals’. Griffen’s job was to curb Paddy Dangerfield. One might be led to believe that Griffen did a number on Dangerfield. True. But Dangerfield still did some nice things.

At half-time I had to depart the mighty Manuka/StarTrack Stadium and head to a family commitment in impregnable rugby league country. ‘Gundaroo is a great option today’, I advised Barry. Hey, the difference was only 15 points, and dear reader, you may well ask why I was so pessimistic about my Cats. Could they not turn it around? Geelong is not renowned for comebacks these days.

Barry’s next texts, received while I was driving, and the distance between me and the action was growing, reinforced the fatalism. ‘5 goals down and it’s one-way traffic’. Then almost immediately, ‘Now 6 as Stevie J slots his second’, and ‘Johnson sets up another’. Woe. That was the end of the texts.

Having settled down to a superb pizza, 10 out of 10 for enjoyment and 1 out of 10 for health, I responded, ‘Rural NSW has never been so idyllic. No-one cares about AFL out here’. Our hosts were blissfully unaware that the season had in fact started, instead lamenting about the Brumbies’ crushing loss to the Waikato Chiefs in the Super-15, or Super-16, or is it now Super-18?

I interpreted Barry’s silence as meaning the Cats were no chance. Later I watched the highlights and realised that he would have been wholly engaged in the Cats’ revival. In particular there was Tom Hawkins’ amazing 50 m kick off the ground for a goal, and then he added another goal. The Tomahawk had been a presence all day but Geelong’s poor delivery and decision-making meant that he was left high and dry most of the time. When Rhys Stanley added another, the Cats had narrowed the margin to one kick with half the last quarter to play. But they couldn’t snag the goal that squared it up. Instead the Giants scrapped and competed and eventually that man Griffen sealed the win for his side with a major. The highlights also showed the Mumford hit on Duncan. Wow! The Giants would have been robbed if Geelong had got up. Justice was done.


My best: GWS: Griffen, Mumford, Scully, Greene, Johnson.

Geelong: Hawkins, Mackie, Enright, Blicavs, Lang.

Malarkey Medal: 3 Griffen, 2 Mumford, 1 Hawkins.



  1. Paul Spinks says

    Can sympathise, Bruce. I watched the first half in the Sports Club bar at North Ballarat oval then had to skedaddle, getting intermittent radio reports. I mainly noticed the silly handpasses and errant kicks when we had the early ascendancy, and that told me minds weren’t quite right. Motlop was all sloppy without the sublime. GWS were applying good pressure though, and had to gain confidence from our complacency eventually. This game was fairly typical of the Cats’ worst in recent years, and the ability to eradicate those bad habits will dictate how far we go. But it’s early days yet – I felt we could very well lose the first two games, so on that basis we’re ahead. Good report.

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