Round 23 – Geelong v Melbourne: Cats Exorcise Sorry Demons

Geelong versus Melbourne
1.45pm, Saturday 27 August
Simonds Stadium, Geelong



A week can be a long time in footy.


Just seven days before today’s game Melbourne were reflecting on three successive wins. After squeaking home against Gold Coast they easily beat triple premiership team Hawthorn at the MCG and backed this up by crushing Port Adelaide in Adelaide.


With other results falling their way, they only needed to beat a hapless Blues outfit at the MCG last Sunday and a patchy Cats unit at Geelong today to secure an unlikely but gettable finals opportunity. Having comfortably beaten Geelong at Kardinia Park in 2015 they had every reason to be optimistic.


Geelong meanwhile were wondering how they managed to achieve one of the greatest ‘get out of gaol’ results in recent memory. Having played excruciating football for three quarters against Richmond they found themselves almost six goals down at three quarter time. A win looked out of the question.


It’s now history that in the last quarter the Tigers self-destructed and the Cats lifted to secure the most unlikely of victories. Like Melbourne they just needed to beat Brisbane at the Gabba last Sunday to keep their top four hopes alive.


If all went to plan the Round 23 Demons-Cats clash could have been one of the games of the year, with plenty hanging on the outcome. Alas it was not to be.


Melbourne flopped against Carlton and put themselves out of the running for a finals berth.


Geelong had a reasonably solid victory against lowly Brisbane without setting the world on fire, but Adelaide’s loss to West Coast meant that the Cats now only needed to win against the Dees to secure a top two finish and a home final.


Melbourne’s new incentive was to back up the 2015 victory at Geelong with a strong performance and send retiring coach Paul Roos on his way with a good win, prior to the appropriately named Simon Goodwin taking over in 2017.


On a fine day with a breeze across the ground slightly favouring the city end, to which the Cats were kicking, Patrick Dangerfield decided to get things moving by grabbing the ball for the first clearance and driving it forward. He moved with such sublime speed and power that everyone else appeared flat-footed. Even the Geelong forwards barely had time to notice the ball was coming their way and the attack petered out.


A few minutes later the Cats got the scoreboard moving with a set shot from bearded hometown hero Jimmy Bartel. This was followed up by some strong marking and conversions by Tom Hawkins after immaculate left foot passes from Dangerfield.


For a time Melbourne stemmed the dominance of the Cats with a couple of goals of their own. One of them, a set shot goal by Vandenberg from a long way out on the boundary line, was all class. With the scoreline at three goals to two well into the quarter it looked like game on. However this was illusory.


By quarter time the Cats had run out to a 38 point lead. Hawkins had four on the board, Menzel was looking dangerous and despite Max Gawn’s solid work in the ruck Geelong midfielders Dangerfield, Selwood and Caddy were cleaning up around the stoppages. Melbourne’s forwards were unsighted.


The pattern of the game remained much the same throughout the second and third quarters. Although players such as Jones, Brayshaw and Salem lifted, the Demons simply could not put any scoreboard pressure on the Cats.


Hawkins and Menzel continued on their merry way and others such as Motlop and Menegola joined in. Harry Taylor was having a picnic on the backline, intercepting everything that came his way. A 70 point margin in favour of the home side at three quarter time said it all.


Despite the comfortable margin and likely big win, Cats supporters had their hearts in their mouths when first Dangerfield and then Selwood and Ruggles went down after bone-crunching contact in packs. Sighs of relief went around the ground when all three resumed their positions and played the game out strongly.


The last quarter was party time for Geelong and a continuing nightmare for Melbourne. While the Demons almost doubled their score to 44 points the Cats rammed on ten goals to run out 111 point winners. A late goal to Jimmy Bartel brought the loudest cheer of the day. Will we see him in the hoops again at Kardinia Park? What a champion he’s been for the club.


Geelong now have bigger fish to fry in their quest for a tenth premiership. The challenge will be to maintain their form against far stronger opposition during the finals.


Melbourne simply had a shocker. You’d think the players’ biggest challenge initially would be to look Paul Roos in the eye and apologise for ending his admirable coaching career in this way. A strong showing in 2017 would be the ideal way to show they meant it. No doubt Roos will be keeping a paternal eye on them from afar.


Geelong 8.2 11.6 14.10 24.11 (155)
Melbourne 2.0 3.2 3.6 6.8 (44)



Geelong: Hawkins 6; Menzel 4; Bartel, Menegola 3; Caddy, Motlop 2;Duncan, Selwood, Taylor, McCarthy

Melbourne: Garlett 2; Brayshaw, Vandenberg, Hogan, Weideman



Geelong: Selwood, Dangerfield, Hawkins, Menzel, Taylor, Caddy, Menegola, Blicavs

Melbourne: Salem, Jones, Brayshaw, Gawn


Crowd: 24,413


Umpires: Mollison, Nicholls, Margetts


Our Votes: Dangerfield (G) 3, Selwood (G) 2, Hawkins (G) 1

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