Geelong sit pretty at the ladder-top, having won 32 of last 34 games. Freo, though yet again have dissapointed in 2008, having another lackluster year.
Freo won here in shocking conditions back in 2005, and pushed the Cats to the brink of defeat back in Rnd 6. Cats though are hitting their straps.
Cats by 43
Dean Solomon might have to change his plans for monday night. In what initially appeared to be a heated contest, has turn into a runaway Cat-astrophee for the lacklustre dockers, despite two injuries to cat champions. They came out with some fight, and their impact was felt, but like usual, their hardness ultimately went nowhere. The cats grabbed a little lead late in the 1st quarter, and never looked back.
Right off the bat, Crowley was at Gary Ablett, and the Cats didn’t like it. Its like Round 6 never finished.
Early on, the ball had a fascination with the boundary line, a stop-start run of 9 stoppages in the first 2min of play. Freo are lively early, going toe-to-toe with the defending premiers. Plus, Crowley is working a charm, taking the cats focus off the task at hand. He lures Steve Johnson into the exchange.
But it is Solomon’s rouge elbow to the face of the ginger cat that sends the crowd into raptures of fury. Ling is down in pain, holding his face, whilst the umpire reaches for his pocket. Solomon reported. Ling to the rooms. The game erupted from here. Perennial villian Josh Carr enters the fray, risking next week on a few hits here and there.
The free-kicks are in awe of Freo, as the count rockets up to 19 for the quarter. And the crowd do not like it at all. The game has a feeling of civilisation on the brink of collapse. The crowd are sharpening their cat-claws, Freo arent leaving the cattery alive.
Whenever Crowley or Solomon gathers the ball, they are tagged persistently by a dogged chorus of booing. Crowley then cleans up Gablett giving away 50m, and the crowd reaches an orgasmic climax.
The tide changes from here a little and the cats nab a few late ones. Dockers give away a 50 very late in the piece, gifting the cats another one. The quarter ends with footage of Ling jogging in the rooms, whilst the teams walk to the coaches. Chapman, Lonergan & Pavlich have all troubled the scorer’s. You could light a match off the atmosphere down here.
In the 2nd, things stayed evenly, but a Varcoe pearler of a goal from the 50 increased a lead that would never look back. Varcoe’s pressure around the contest was telling, with the goals from the cats starting to rain like normal. The feeling of the 1st quarter was fast-becoming a forgotten memory, despite some love-taps between Bartel & Carr. Tarrant narrowly misses a much-needed goal. Tom Harley is cleaning up many inside 50’s from the dockers, nabbing a couple contested marks. It’s the dockers undoing, their forward thrusts are shocking to say the least, no life & no likelihood of scoring.
With 1min10secs togo, Gablett can be seen limping. To the horror of the Geelong faithful, he has rolled his right ankle, favouring it unhealthily. He joins Ling in permanent residence on the bench, Gablett wont be taking any further part in the game. Bartel goals a late one, giving the cats a 33pt lead into half-time, having kept Freo goalless in the 2nd quarter.
The floodgates open after half-time. Ottens. Ottens. Mooney. Lonergan. All score in quick succession, meaning the cats have kicked the last 10 goals. Result is almost beyond doubt.
Solomon is still stalked by constant booing, as is Crowley. They have made themselves villians of Skilled Stadium. The dockers have a nice set of play from defence, albeit haphazard, and it falls to Tarrant, who slots a desperately needed goal, their first in 49min of play.
Feeling gone from the match, i decide to sink my teeth into something with some more substance than Freo, and get some food. When i return, Crowley looks like a lost puppy without its bone. His man Gablett is gone for the day, with that resigned expression and covered-up appearance that registers there wont be any more from him. Selwood is continuing to exert his influence in the contests, throwing his body around, in & under to get to the ball first, also using some deft touch to his teams advantage.
Peake gets one late, reeling it back to an even 50 with 2min left. Solomon saves a goal on the last line, then instantly makes a meal of it, gifting Bartel a shot, that luckily misses. The siren goes with Crowley 90m. He mocks a shot after the siren, and shares a little laugh about it with the players and fans. Contest over with a quarter to come, 51pts the difference.
With the result beyond doubt, the cats continue to edge away. Solomon is tackled by Lonergan, holding-the-ball, and Lonergan seals the deal for his 4th. Tarrnat also crops up for his 3rd, a respectable day out among the woeful docker forward line. Harley continues to take saving marks in defence, a summary of the day. Corey Enright racks em up again, his last 2 weeks being the most prolific of his careerer to date. After a frenetic hand-to-hand passage of play from Freo, Geelong inevitably gains possession & chapman finishes it off.
The ugly interchange breach rule then crops up once again with 8:46 still on the clock. Ottens goals accordingly for his 3rd. After that unfortunate occurence, the match teeters to the finish line, the cats eventually winning 118-44, a 74pt win.
Corey, Enright, Harley, Ottens & Selwood were stand-outs for the rampaging cats, Bartel wasnt too bad either. Dockers had few good-points. Tarrant can hold his head high, but almost everyone else was OK at best, but mostly woeful. Youngsters Ibbotson & Mayne were shining lights like usual.
However i suspect the injuries, albeit decidedly minor, of Ling & Ablett, plus the report of Solomon will be the major talking points of the match. Josh Carr isnt safe either, after some dodgy acts the tribunal will look into. Fremantle’s niggling tactics were not popular, and ultimately did little to stop the cat onslaught.
Freo’s lack of success going into 50 was a major point. But also the older players failed to fire. Farmer looks like he wont be playing AFL in 2009, Mark Johnson is a waste of time, Josh Carr is coming to an end, etc. Bell was onto something in retiring this week, he’ll set a precedent even in his demise for other dockers to follow. Nevertheless though, impressive cats win.
Geelong 4.2 7.7 13.10 18.10 (118)
Fremantle 2.1 2.4 5.7 6.8 (44)
Geelong: Lonergan 4, Ottens 3, Bartel 2, Chapman 2, Enright 2, Ablett, Varcoe, Selwood, Mooney, Stokes
Fremantle: Tarrant 3, Pavlich, Mayne, Peake
Geelong: Selwood, Corey, Lonergan, Enright, Harley, Scarlett, Blake, Bartel, Hunt
Fremantle: Ibbotson, Mayne, Grover, McPharlin
Geelong: Ablett (ankle), Ling (fractured cheekbone), Kelly (calf) replaced in selected side by Taylor
Fremantle: Head replaced in selected side by Peake
Reports: Solomon (by Justin Schmitt for striking Ling)
Umpires: Schmitt, Wenn, Armstrong
Official crowd: 21,286 at Skilled Stadium