Round 16 – Western Bulldogs v Geelong (and others): The sweep of Season 2019

 

 

I was in Echuca on Saturday night, lounging in a motel room with the family, all fired up to watch a great game of footy. Two weeks previously, sitting among Port’s finest on the western side of the Adelaide Oval, I’d seen Port demolish Geelong, so I knew Port were on the march. For them to be beaten by the Dogs, albeit in driving rain, said a lot for the Dogs (and not just for Marcus Bontempelli). So I gave the Dogs every chance against the Pivotonians.

 

The Cats have had the Dogs measure for many years – but the Dogs were too good last season, a very satisfying win for their coach. The opening minutes fitted the pattern of history – with Geelong finding the footy and moving it quickly, to the advantage of Tom Hawkins. Rhys Stanley has had his problems against crash and bash ruckmen in recent times (Lycett being Exhibit A) so to observe the effectiveness of his athletic approach in the opening contests was reassuring. The only issue was the squandering of opportunities. This will be pleasant.

 

But the game changed. Once the Dogs won a reasonable share of the footy they first played themselves into the contest and then played Geelong out of it. The Cats have struggled with pressure all year – the difficulty for other sides has been to sustain that pressure. An undermanned Richmond were good early, but couldn’t keep it going. The Swans at Geelong were good early – and throughout the match (a high quality match it seemed to be from my vantage pint in the outer) – but the Cats ground their way to victory. Adelaide were good early- although helped by a some pretty ordinary Geelong stuff.

 

Once the Cats were under pressure they went into post-bye, first week of the finals, are-we-good-enough spooked mode. And the Dogs did not let up. They won the game – and they genuinely beat Geelong. Geelong was defeated in the true sense of the word. But I wonder why Geelong is asked (I assume it is an instruction) to play such negative, slow footy at times. I’m keen to see a skilful team (mine) with its share of the ball, which has demonstrated it has the capacity for flowing (and entertaining) footy, roll the dice a little more often. I reckon I might  get some support from Tom Hawkins. But what would I know.

 

I only believe. Here’s some things to believe in: Tim Kelly, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett, Tom Hawkins, Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart and his band of defenders, the squad of youngsters and so on.

 

A month ago, perhaps less, all the talk (as premature as it was – but you end up talking about something) was of Geelong and Collingwood being the top teams. Not this morning. As I sit here in the study, the July sunshine streaming in through the window, all the talk is not of Geelong and Collingwood – except to wonder where to now.

 

Geelong has three away games which loom as tough matches – Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle. An open, attacking, end-to-end Gabba outing is very attractive. If it is played that way. (What a magnificent win to the Lions against GWS – and the coach had every reason to be beaming). A scrum between the Dockers and Geelong has limited appeal.

 

And what of Collingwood?

 

What is going on? I’m interested to hear the analysis from the outer and the lounge chair. Why is Geelong struggling? What should they do? What has happened to Collingwood? And who wins the flag and why?

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS    1.4   3.5    5.7    10.11 (71)
GEELONG                       3.5   4.8   6.11   7.13 (55)

 

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 4, Lloyd 3, Dixon, Bontempelli, Smith
Geelong: Dangerfield 2, Hawkins 2, Rowan, Kelly, Selwood,

 

BEST
Western Bulldogs: Naughton, Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter, McLean.
Geelong: Tuohy, Stewart, Clark.

 

INJURIES
Western Bulldogs: TBC
Geelong: Parfitt (rested) replaced in final side by Gary Rohan, Kolodjashnij (head)

 

Reports: Nil
Umpires: Stevic, Brown, McInerney
Official crowd: 35,641 at Marvel Stadium

 

Malarkey Votes:  3. Naughton     2. Bontempelli    1. Hunter

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo11, Anna9, Evie8. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. Paul Spinks says

    John:
    Heard someone from the club saying, pre-match, how we needed to slow down the Dogs. Think we ended up slowing down ourselves to the point of not being able to get any momentum. But then, my pet hate is tempo footy – it always brings us undone, especially when we aren’t engaging gears.

    And the Doggies got into overdrive in that last stanza!

    My jury will be out about the Cats until the end of the season. Our tendency in recent years of staring off well, but getting bloated on a victory diet and becoming lethargic, may well be repeated. Though, I was hopeful, at 11 – 1, it wouldn’t be.

    Umpire McInerney’s advice to fans could appear to be ill timed, given the performance his mob put in on Saturday night is typically what enrages them?

  2. John, how can you work out footy. Power smash Geelong, Geelong smash Crows, Western Bulldogs short circuit Power. Bulldogs run all over Cats in final quarter and Power crush Crows. As a disillusioned Crows fan I can only say this “PITIFUL PERFORMANCE FROM PATHETIC PYKERS” For 2 weeks in a row Adelaide went home at half time.

    On those 2 performances there must be big question marks over the Crows coaching panel and several of its players. Also, with Collingwood misfiring in its last couple of matches who can predict what will happen. For all that, I would love to see Brisbane continue on its merry way – I really enjoy watching speedster Charlie Cameron (was he hit by lightning in a CSI lab and dowsed by chemicals, you could be excused by thinking so).

  3. Dogs were superb in maintaining their rage on Saturday night. If the Cats had kicked straight early the result may be different, but that would only have masked the inadequacies at Geelong. Few of my observations:

    – The number of times Geelong defenders were taken under the ball by their opponents. I assume it is an opposition tactic to beak down Geelong’s marking backs. It worked a treat. Blicavs was particularly susceptible.
    – The stupid (its the only word that applies) chip kicks in defence. WTF? The Dogs waited for errors and pounced. And then we did it again!
    – The post bye hang over seems to last about 9 weeks for the Cats.
    – The inability of Danger to really influence a game has dropped. He plays in bursts. Short bursts. If he is sore don’t play him. His kicking suggests he is sore.
    – Kelly fumbled a lot. I’ll forgive him that bad one. Genuine footballer.
    – Why have Hawkins in the side if you don’t kick it to him? Exhibit Z: Ten points the difference. One minute on the clock. Cats have momentum. Half forward flank. Duncan streams towards goal. Hawkins in one on one in the square. Duncan handballs to a bloke five feet away under the pump??? Stoppage. Dogs clear it (again). Game over. Please explain.
    – Cats REALLY miss Menegola and Ratogolea.

  4. Geelong were pretty insipid.

    Having held a lead for most of the match, only conceding the third goal on the cusp of half time to then lose is not indicative of a side looking at winning a flag.

    It looks like the old hand bags from the days of yore were dusted off, brought to the fore for this match.

    Glen!

  5. Paul, I think we all find it frustrating. Dips, those chip kicks! Just gives the opponent time to get set defensively. A telling element in this is that, once the game is slipping away, the intensity lifts and they try to move the ball quickly – as it is their best chance! (Bring back Blighty!)

    Dips, I hadn’t thought so much about Menegola – but that’s an interesting observation. I had thought about Ratugolea – I reckon he makes a big difference.

    Mitch Duncan is down on confidence.

    Clark is confident. He’s got some talent. And some poise. And the freedom of youth. He has to fit all that in with everyone else.

  6. JTH – I reckon Menegola gives Geelong a lot of poise. He can play in the guts, wing or even CHF. Beautiful runner, lovely kick. He is the “gap” between Danger, Selwood, Duncan and the youngsters.

  7. Haven’t heard a handbag reference for a while Glen! I agree with the premise that good sides win games, rather than good sides don’t not lose games.

    Fisho, as for the Crows? That’s a pretty bad second half. The form lines are all over the place. Although…Port v Adelaide made the Dogs a fair chance v Geelong that night (in a simple world).

  8. Dips, I reckon Hawk loves a big bloke up forward. The forward line has functioned most effectively with Big Esava up there. But when is he back? I’d like to see the big Queenslander get a game – Wylie Buzza – but only if they kick it to him, and he gets more then a couple of weeks. He’s around and about in the Twos.

    Others from the Twos? Scott Selwood? Parsons? Does Zac Smith get another run?

  9. Agree re Hawkins. He needs a foil.

    I like the look of Krueger in the twos. Buzza et al are too one dimensional. Krueger can take a grab and run too. A bit of a punt but as we will not likely get a home final (utterly outrageous. Geelong is the only club that gets zero reward for finishing on top) what difference does it make if we finish 1st or 4th?

  10. I wouldn’t be too worried. As long as you don’t end up Minor Premiers – they never win the flag – or rarely!

  11. 1. West Coast (he would say that wouldn’t he) – 5 goals better than last year with Nic Nait and 6/6/6. The defence of Hurn (safest hands in AFL), McGovern, Barrass and Sheppard is elite. Mosquito fleet up front with Cripps, Ryan, Rioli (working back into form – class) and Cameron is way better than our smalls last year.
    2. Richmond – Tough. Hard. Experienced. Manic. Hung tough with stars out and getting them back at right time. Their pressure makes them team I would least like to play at their best.
    3. Geelong – Too much class to discount. Monstered us earlier in the season @ KP. I don’t see enough to know but have been wondering about legs of their older players. Selwood, Taylor et al. Great players but does age catch up with you the longer the season goes?
    GAP
    4. Port Adelaide – Have good rucks and class midfield. On their day could beat anyone, but lack height and foot skills back.
    5. Brisbane – Well coached youngsters on the bounce. 2 good rucks. Neale, Hodge etc – good experience from smart recruiting.
    6. Collingwood – One dimensional. Grundy + runners. Lack marking front and back. Injuries haven’t helped but age catching up with Pendlebury and Sidebottom?
    7. GWS – Lack marking up front. My JCameron front runner predictions coming true. Mumford and Whitfield fit gives them hope. Goals need to come from mids.
    8. North – are best side out of the 8. Off the leash under Rhyce. Dunno if they can make it but I would be more worried about them than Crows, Dogs or Bombers in a final.
    Sydney get an honourable mention for their rebuild. Hawks a donut side with old and young but not much in the middle. Clarko will take the money and run. Dockers have recruited rubbish. Bell v Lyon is the interesting off field issue. Will Carlton buy used goods? Will Fyfe take his talent to a Victorian side with flag prospects?
    Of the rest Carlton have more 2020 upside than Dees, Saints or Suns. Dees rely on too few with lots of hangers on.

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