The Fremantle Dockers have re-energized their season with their third consecutive victory to sit just outside of the top eight. The Geelong Cats were beaten by the Richmond Tigers last week and were determined to return to their best. However, with a number of players unavailable through injury, the Cats found the pressure on the ball and the run of the Fremantle Dockers too much to handle. With the afternoon temperature nudging 79 °F, the big Cats lacked the fitness and stamina to stay with the young Dockers.
It was a cool but sunny spring day at the MCG which saw 100,042 spectators pack the MCG to watch the Geelong versus Sydney Grand Final for the 2022 premiership. With all the pre-match entertainment and the Australian National Anthem out of the way, the two sides went to battle. From the start it was Geelong who dominated the center clearances and the contested ball. Tom Hawkins was the first to score when he got on the end of a Zach Tuohy pass in the pocket, but his kicked drifted wide for a behind. His continual signature work in the ruck brought the first two goals of the game as he used his body to gain position and snap the ball through the goals on both sides of the goal mouth.
Despite the Cat's early dominance, it looked like some balance had been restored when will Hayward kicked the first for the Swans. But it looked anything but balanced as Geelong kicked the next three goals one to Blicavs and two in a row to Isaac Smith. While the Swans desperately tried to find a chain of possession, they were continually out marked across the ground. When Close kicked Geelong's sixth goal late in the quarter, it was not just the score but the Cat's dominance in every area that suggested this game may already be won. If not for four behinds in the last six minutes of the quarter,, there would have been no doubt.
A wet evening in Melbourne led up to tonight's Preliminary Final at the MCG with a spot in the Grand Final on the line. A respectable crowd of 77,677 rolled into the MCG. Much more than the 30,000 currently able to fit into the Cats home at Kardinia Park. While the travel down the M1 to Melbourne might be a slight inconvenience to Geelong club and its fans, the interstate trip from Brisbane definitely makes them the away team. The Lions brought back Joe Daniher (returning after missing last week for the birth of his child), and Oscar McInerney into the team after missing due to concussion previously. Darcy Fort and Tom Fullarton were omitted.
The first quarter was an "arm wrestle". The first 20 minutes saw the traditional feeling out period with one goal to each team, Dangerfield in the first minute and McCarthy in the eleventh minute. The Cats kicked the next two goal's through Stengle and Dangerfield, Hawkins almost added another but his set shot went just right of the post. Ah Chee broke the run of play when he kicked the Lions second but the lead again extended out to 14 points when Holmes kicked Geelong's fourth just before the quarter time siren.
The Geelong Cats moved into the top four after doing enough in blustery conditions to beat the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Cats have had a heavy couple of weeks on the training track, as they build their strength for the end of the season. They looked lethargic for much of the game but won critical balls when challenged to keep a determined West Coast Eagles under control. The Eagles were strengthened by a number of stars returning from injury and will be pleased with their improved performance against a strong team.
The early signs for the Cats looked good as Tyson Stengle burnt off a pack of chasing Eagles to handball to Brad Close, who goaled without much pressure. However, the Eagles were a different team to the one that played the first half of the season. They contested the ball with a new found hardness and with their more-experienced players tasting leather, ball movement became purposeful. Reward came after eight minutes when Willie Rioli received a free kick and goaled. The Cats played Jeremy Cameron away from the goals to draw the Eagles intercept marker (catcher), Jeremy McGovern, out of the play. The Cats' full forward Tom Hawkins appreciated the space to move, but was closely shadowed by the Eagles' fullback Tom Barrass. With Cameron and Hawkins not scoring, the Cats placed greater reliance on their small forwards. Tyson Stengle slipped in for an early goal after an excellent kick from Cameron on the boundary. Then Sam Menegola sharked a loose ball to snap the Cats' third major.
The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
There is no lack of finals experience for either Geelong or Richmond with both sides contesting for the better part of the last decade. However, this will be only the third time to two will square off against each other in a Grand Final. The first time was 1931 when the Cats thrashed the Tigers. The Tigers turned the tables in 1967 with a narrow nine point victory.
The AFL recently listed the 40 nominees for the 2020 All-Australian team. Out of those, 22 were selected. The 40 nominees were:
BRISBANE: Harris Andrews (2019 AA), Hugh McCluggage, Lachie Neale (2019 AA)
CARTON: Jacob Weitering
COLLINGWOOD: Taylor Adams, Brayden Maynard, Darcy Moore, Scott Pendlebury (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019 AA, nominated 2009, 2015, 2016, 2018)
ESSENDON: Jordan Ridley
FREMANTLE: Nat Fyfe (2014, 2015, 2019 (captain) All Australian, nominated 2011, 2013), Luke Ryan, Matt Taberner
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.
Much maligned Carlton has held on grimly to defeat a fast-finishing Geelong by just two points at Kardinia Park on Saturday night – the Blues first win at Geelong’s home park since 1996. This continued a series of surprising results in this already unusual season. The star of the Carlton show was undoubtedly veteran Eddie Betts, with the plucky goal sneak not only kicking the game’s opening goal but bookending it with a game-saving tackle within the last minute of the match.
Carlton stunned the highly fancied Geelong by dominating the first quarter through some great work by star midfielder Patrick Cripps and emerging ruckman Marc Pittonet, with the aforementioned Eddie Betts chipping in with two goals. At quarter time the Blues led by 25 points after what was comfortably their most impressive quarter for the season to date.
Melbourne rolled to a 29-point win over a hapless Geelong on the back of a scintillating first quarter at the MCG on Friday night. Long suffering Demons fans celebrated wildly as their team broke a decade long finals drought and the party might not stop here. The dominant performance would have resulted in a much larger winning margin had the Demon forwards brought their kicking boots, with Melbourne managing just 1 goal, 10 behinds in two quarters of football to give Geelong a sniff of a comeback after halftime.