Optus Stadium was the location for champagne football on a fine Sunday afternoon and the next day became the venue for a rain-sogged slugfest. This Monday night's (Perth time) game saw the Geelong Cats finish convincing winners by booting six goals against the undermanned Fremantle Dockers. It was a rain-soaked game where the team with the highest number of fit and mature bodies would win. The Dockers fielded a team without a recognized tall defender and their dual Brownlow Medalist captain Nat Fyfe was one of eleven Dockers on their extensive injury list. The Cats had an injury list nearly as long, which included Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, and Rhys Stanley. It wasn't the number of non-injured players that won the Cats the game; it was the physical maturity of the players fielded, which gave them the winning advantage.
The object of "good old fashioned" wet weather football is to move the ball forward by whatever means possible. The Cats did this better by getting numbers to the ball and crashing packs with their bigger bodies. There was nothing fancy, just knock the ball forward until it was close enough to goals to be kicked through. Three of the Cat's goals game from close range soccer-style kicks.
The Cats also struck a telling blow in the first minute of the game. Brad Close, playing his first game, marked a Gary Rohan pass and booted the dry ball through the big sticks with his first kick in league football. It was not until the 17th minute of the second quarter that Mitch Duncan soccered the Cats' second after the ball slipped to the back of a goal square marking contest.
Tom Hawkins soccered another Geelong goal early in the third quarter before Matt Tabbener marked a Michael Walters' kick and took a set shot to register the Dockers' first goal at the 21-minute mark of the third quarter. Hawkins who had been well held by Luke Ryan then shut the gate on the Dockers with a mark and skillful goal from the boundary with just ten minutes to play in the game. He followed up with a soccered goal six minutes later, before Sam Menegola completed an accurate snap to boot the Cat's final goal. Caleb Serong received some reward for effort when he snapped the Dockers' second goal in the final minute of the game enabling the Dockers to avoid the lowest final score in an AFL match in modern times.
Due to the atrocious conditions, the game lacked highlights. What was missing in skill was replaced by endeavor. The more experienced Cats played genuine wet weather football, using the bulk of their bodies to outmuscle their younger opponents. As the game wore on, players such as Hawkins, Mark Blicavs, Mitch Duncan, Harry Taylor, and Cameron Guthrie became more damaging. Fremantle showed some positives signs for the future. Caleb Serong, playing in his fifth game, effectively tagged Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield.
Serong won 22 possessions and laid seven tackles while restricting the dangerous Cat to just 18 possessions. Youngster Andrew Brayshaw picked up 28 possessions and made six clearances and the inexperienced Adam Cerra continued to show poise in traffic. The Cats relied more on their experienced campaigners. Irishman Zach Tuohy reveled in the conditions and played a typical tough game for the Cats; he was well supported by the muscles of Sam Menegola and Mark Blicavs.
The victory moves Geelong towards the top of the ladder, but it is difficult to predict how far they will go this year. They will be found wanting against more experienced teams, particularly when games are played in dry conditions. Their power forward, Tom Hawkins, has been assessed by the video review for a one match ban for an elbow to the throat of Luke Ryan and could miss this week's match against West Coast. The Cats will need all hands on deck to quell the rampaging Eagles. Next week, the Fremantle Dockers have a six day break before they meet the Collingwood Magpies. They will need to recover quickly from the physical belting Geelong gave them, to have any chance of matching the Magpies.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 0.2 0.3 1.3 2.4 (16) Geelong Cats: 1.2 2.9 3.9 6.12 (48) Best Fremantle Dockers: Brayshaw, Ryan, Serong, Cerra, Mundy Geelong Cats: Guthrie, Duncan, Hawkins, Menegola, Tuohy
Article last changed on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 1:14 PM EDT