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At the critical moment, Cats emphatically answer the call

Geelong midfield pair Gary Ablett and Mitch Duncan are all smiles after Ablett hammers another nail in the North Melbourne coffin. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

At the critical moment, Cats emphatically answer the call

Rohan Connolly    

You could feel a big win to North Melbourne in the making a few minutes into the final term at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.

The Roos had kicked the last two goals of the third term to creep within 17 points of Geelong and had dominated play, and the last quarter began exactly the same way.

Trent Dumont missed a shot, so did Luke McDonald, but when Todd Goldstein, aided by a dubious 50-metre penalty, dobbed one, it was just 10 points the difference. It felt like North was about to do what Sydney had done to the Cats earlier this season in a stunning comeback win.

Perhaps the Cats felt it, too. Because their response was emphatic to say the least, instead slamming on five goals of their own in the next 10 minutes, the result in the end a very emphatic 37-point win.

Geelong won’t play many more important or impressive patches of football this season than that little burst, which started with a lovely shot on the run from Jordan Cunico on a tight angle just 90 seconds after Goldstein’s goal, restoring Geelong’s equilibrium.

The Cats upped the ante on the pressure front. Skipper Joel Selwood had been held to just six first-half touches by North stopper Ben Jacobs. He made up for it now, imposing himself every with 11 disposals in the final term alone.

His side doubled the Roos for contested ball in the crucial first half of the last stanza, trebled them for disposals, and smashed them on the outside with at one stage 26 uncontested possessions to only five. Sure enough, the goals rained down.

Cunico’s was followed by one to Tom Hawkins, who’d been superb for the Cats working hard further afield than usual finishing with 23 disposals, 11 marks and three goals.

Tim Kelly snapped one, Gary Ablett slammed one home after streaming through the centre and Jed Bews dobbed one from 50. Just 11 minutes after the Roos had taken their roll to the threshold of victory, it was Geelong coasting by 43 points, game very much over.

North Melbourne’s efforts over the course of the previous three quarters probably didn’t deserve that. But the Roos hadn’t taken their opportunities. And against a team as seasoned as the Cats, that’s largesse which can’t be afforded.

The opening salvos had been something of a stalemate, broken not until the 11-minute mark, when Shaun Higgins ran into an open goal for the Roos, Shaun Atley just holding off a determined tackle from the Cats’ Jack Henry to slip out a handball.

In blistering form, Higgins was off to a great start again, that goal already his seventh disposal.

But Geelong was soon enough sparked into action. James Parsons found space inside an open 50 to get on the end of a Sam Menegola handball. Mitch Duncan slotted one from around the same spot.

From the next centre bounce the Cats banged the ball forward again, Wylie Buzza slipping in front of Majak Daw to take a strong mark and convert the grab.

And when Patrick Dangerfield, already looking dangerous parked inside 50, got a break on the pursuing Scott Thompson, marked on the lead and kicked straight, it was four goals in a 10-minute burst and a handy 16-point lead to the home side.

Even then, North Melbourne had had its chances. Mason Wood missed a couple of gettable shots, a couple of snaps floated agonisingly wide. But the upshot was 1.6 and the Roos already up against it.

They were back in the ball game soon enough, Kayne Turner getting a fortunate goalsquare bounce opposed to two Cat defenders within the first minute of the restart. But Geelong’s defence isn’t No.1 in the competition right now without good reason. And that would be the only scoreboard joy North would have for the entire term.

At the other end, meanwhile, a busy but as yet goalless Hawkins notched his first from 30 metres. And Dangerfield, still occupying a forward slot with Gary Ablett, Duncan and Menegola getting the job done midfield, was threatening to run amok.

He’d already missed a couple of shots by the time he out-bustled the hardly lightly-framed Jack Ziebell just 15 metres out to boot his second goal of the afternoon, the marks inside 50 statistic telling, the Cats by now with 10, the Roos just three.

North Melbourne wouldn’t quit. It had by far the better of the third term. But Geelong’s backline did the job again and again, Tom Stewart a wonderful rebounder, Zac Tuohy creeping forward for an important goal, Jake Kolodjashnij bobbing up in the right place at the right time for the intercept.

Most of all, though, unlike that round six clash with Sydney at the Cattery, this time when the opposition charge came, Geelong was ready. That sense of the moment proved the decisive factor. And you figure it’s probably going to hold the Cats in pretty good stead at the business end of the season, too.

GEELONG 4.4 6.7 9.8 14.12 (96)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.6 2.6 6.8 8.11 (59)
GOALS – Geelong: Hawkins 3, Dangerfield 2, Tuohy, Buzza, Duncan, Parsons, Jones, Ablett, Kelly, Bews, Cunico. North Melbourne: Higgins 2, Ziebell, Cunnington Dumont, Turner, Wood, Goldstein.
BEST – Geelong: Hawkins, Ablett, Stewart, Dangerfield, Selwood, Menegola. North Melbourne: Higgins, Jacobs, Cunnington, Tarrant, McDonald.
INJURIES – Geelong: Black (knee), Menegola (back), North Melbourne: Ziebell (cut knee)
Umpires: Foot, Meredith, Williamson
Crowd: 31,265 at GMHBA Stadium

  1. How significant was Blicavs on Brown? Hearing it on the radio it sounded like he had him running around all over the place, (Canberra is not a great place for free to air TV for Geelong fans)

  2. Rohan Connolly

    Yeah, pretty good. Could have slipped him into the bests really.

  3. Blicavs should be considered for AA fullback. Keeps taking the best the opposition has and has toweled every one of them up. Not bad for a bloke who only took up defense in round 3 after Taylor went down.

    Round 3:

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