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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago


B: Tom Harley, Matthew Scarlett, Josh Hunt
HB: Darren Milburn, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie
C: Joel Selwood, Cameron Ling, Corey Enright
HF: Steve Johnson, Cameron Mooney, Jimmy Bartel
F: Travis Varcoe, Tom Lonergan, Mathew Stokes
Foll: Brad Ottens, Joel Corey, Gary Ablett
I/C: Max Rooke, James Kelly, David Wojcinski, Mark Blake
EMG: Shannon Byrnes, Ryan Gamble, David Johnson

In: Kelly, Wojcinski
Out: Paul Chapman (hamstring), Brent Prismall (knee)

B: Dale Morris, Brian Lake, Tim Callan
HB: Lindsay Gilbee, Stephen Tiller, Ryan Hargrave
C: Josh Hill, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Cross
HF: Robert Murphy, Mitch Hahn, Brad Johnson
F: Jason Akermanis, Will Minson, Scott Welsh
Foll: Ben Hudson, Ryan Griffen, Adam Cooney
I/C: Nathan Eagleton, Daniel Giansiracusa, Jarrod Harbrow, Shaun Higgins
EMG: Andrejs Everitt, Farren Ray, Callan Ward

B: Brent Guerra, Trent Croad, Thomas Murphy
HB: Grant Birchall, Luke Hodge, Rick Ladson
C: Chance Bateman, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis
HF: Michael Osborne, Lance Franklin, Campbell Brown
F: Mark Williams, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli
Foll: Robert Campbell, Brad Sewell, Shane Crawford
I/C: Stuart Dew, Xavier Ellis, Brent Renouf, Clinton Young
EMG: Stephen Gilham, Jarryd Morton, Travis Tuck

In: Ellis
Out: Cameron Stokes (hamstring tightness)

B: Jason Blake, Max Hudghton, Brendon Goddard
HB: Sam Gilbert, Sam Fisher, Jason Gram
C: Clint Jones, Nick Dal Santo, Robert Harvey
HF: James Gwilt, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna
F: Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke, Luke Ball
Foll: Steven King, Lenny Hayes, Adam Schneider
I/C: David Armitage, Andrew McQualter, Raphael Clarke, Robert Eddy
EMG: Michael Gardiner, Shane Birss, Aaron Fiora

Out: Jarryd Allen (hip), Ball (hamstring)

GEEL  5.3   8.8   10.9   12.11 (83)
WB    4.3   5.5    7.9    7.12 (54)

GOALS: GEEL - Rooke 2, Johnson 2, Bartel, Lonergan, Stokes, Wojcinski, Ottens, Harley, Varcoe, Mooney; WB - Higgins 2, Harbrow 2, Akermanis, Johnson, Eagleton

BEST: GEEL - Mackie, Harley, Corey, Bartel, Ling, Ottens, Scarlett, Corey Rooke, Varcoe; WB - Cross, Morris, Lake, Harbrow, Giansiracusa, Callan, Eagleton, Gilbee, Hargrave

INJURY: WB - Johnson (corked thigh)

REPORTS: WB - Hill (Bulldogs) for making high contact with Andrew Mackie

UMPIRES: Ryan, Vozzo, McBurney

CROWD: 70,140 at the MCG

This game may well prove to be the perfect tune-up for Geelong's Grand Final next week. The Cats did not have everything their own way early in the game as the Bulldogs threw everything they could at the Cats. Through much of the first term, the pressure applied by the Dogs forced the Cats into uncharacteristic errors. It took several minutes before Stokes registered the first goal for the Cats and from there it went goal for goal until midway through the term. Young forward Higgins was giving Milburn plenty of trouble, but couldn't translate that to the scoreboard with two consecutive behinds. He made amends soon after with his first goal. Bartel soon replied at the other end for the Cats. Higgins and Johnson added consecutive goals midway through the term to put the Dogs seven points in front. The Bulldog defense was holding up well as they thwarted several Geelong attacks with rushed points. Akermanis goaled to make the margin 11 points. Wojcinski and Rooke goaled to put Geelong one point in front. Eagleton had a kick for goal, but missed to level the scores late in the term. From the kick-in, Geelong raced away from the Bulldogs and Ablett set up Lonergan for a late goal to give the Cats a six point lead at 1/4 time.

After several misses and rushed points, Steve Johnson finally goaled for the Cats midway through the second term. A few minutes later, Hargrave arrived a moment too late at a marking contest (attempt to catch the ball) and crashed into Harley. The resultant 50 meter penalty (55 yards) to Harley forward where he kicked his first goal of the year to extend the Cats' lead to 19 points. The Bulldog defense was still trying to hold firm and did well enough to rush through another point. From the kick-in, the Cats kept the ball in their forward area. A series of kicks and handballs saw the ball end up with Selwood who kicked to the goalsquare where Ottens scrambled to recover a loose ball and kick another Geelong goal. Eagleton picked off an errant Corey handball to score the Bulldogs' only goal for the term and Geelong led by 21 points at 1/2 time.

From the first bounce of the third term, Bartel won a free kick in the center and a few handballs and kicks helped Mooney set up Varcoe for another Geelong goal. By this time, Cooney was shifted forward for the Bulldogs after being quelled by Ling in the midfield. Geelong restructured their defense and Higgins was kept quiet for the rest of the game. However, Geelong was still having some trouble in front of goal thanks to the hardworking Bulldog defense. Selwood missed a gettable shot but Harbrow stepped in for the Dogs to kick two goals in a matter of minutes to cut Geelong's lead to just 15 points. The Dogs seemed to have the momentum but wasted several chances in front of goal which could have given them the lead. Eagleton earned a free kick when Ling crashed into his back but he missed from 40 meters ((43 yards). Hargrave's kick was intercepted by the Cat defense and pushed through for a rushed point. Minson marked a few minutes later, but he missed as did Hahn. Geelong then took the ball straight down the middle and got it to Mooney for his only goal of the game to give the Cats an 18 point lead at 3/4 time.

The final term was low-scoring and it took over six minutes before a score was registered as the Bulldog defense was still working hard and the Dogs could not find a reliable target of their own up forward against the Cat defense. Boyd had a shot which sailed out of bounds, Minson blew a free kick, Higgins kicked out of bounds and the Cats made them pay. Bulldog veteran Brad Johnson was in defense midway through the term. As the ball came in, Johnson and Rooke headed for it from opposite directions. Rooke crashed into Johnson and was lucky not to be penalized. Instead, he gained possession and goaled to stretch Geelong's lead. With just over two minutes remaining, Geelong's Steve Johnson and Bulldog Hargrave held onto to each other during a marking contest and Johnson was awarded a free kick for being held, despite the protests of Hargrave that they had been holding each other. Johnson's goal simply iced the Cat cake as the game had already been well and truly won.

Geelong best were Joel Corey 28 possessions), Gary Ablett (29 and several goal assists), Jimmy Bartel (27), Cameron Ling (22), Joel Selwood (24), Travis Varcoe (18) across half-forward and and Andrew Mackie (30) outstanding across half-back.

For the Bulldogs, Daniel Cross (32 touches), Matthew Boyd (26), Daniel Giansiracusa (23 in game #150)) and Lindsay Gilbee (25) did well through the midfield while Brian Lake, Dale Morris and Ryan Hargrave were standouts in defense. Morris did well in restricting burly Cat forward Cameron Mooney while Hargrave was equally effective opposed to the dangerous Steve Johnson. 

HAW  4.4   11.5   15.8   18.10 (118)
STK  2.3    3.6    7.7    9.10 (64)

GOALS: HAW - Williams 5, Roughead 4, Rioli 2, Young 2, Bateman, Brown, Crawford, Franklin, Osborne; St Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Fisher 2, Fiora, Milne, Montagna, Schneider

BEST: HAW - Lewis, Mitchell, Williams, Sewell, Young, Hodge, Bateman, Guerra, Croad, Mitchell, Roughead, Birchall; STK - Hudghton, Goddard, S. Fisher, Clarke, Hayes, Harvey, Riewoldt

INJURY: HAW - Hodge (ribs); STK - Ball (hamstring), replaced n selected side by Fiora

UMPIRES: Kennedy, Rosebury, McLaren

CROWD: 77,002 at MCG

While Geelong toughed it out against a determined and spirited Bulldog outfit, the Hawks showed they were not going to pushovers in next week's Grand Final. Surely, formed coach Allen Jeans' mantra of "pay the price" must be hanging somewhere at the Hawthorn club, as Hodge and Franklin did just that early in the game. Hodge was on and off the ground for much of the game after the first tern after being crunched by Koschitzke. Ditto Franklin who injured his thumb. That, combined with the close attention of St .Kilda defender Hudghton, restricted the star forward from imposing himself on the game. But never fear for the Hawks as Williams and Roughead proved to be more than ample fill-ins when Franklin was off being treated by medical staff.

Williams was dangerous from the start, but missed several early chances while Schneider popped through an early goal for the Saints from free kick. After Williams' second miss, Rioli won a free kick at the kick in and his goal put the Hawks in front. Milne missed to make the margin just one point, but Fisher earned a 50 meter penalty (55 yards) and goaled to put the Saints back in front. Williams and Roughead goaled to restore Hawthorn's lead. Milne had a chance to get the Saints within one point but missed before Young added another Hawk goal. Koschitzke missed and the Saint defense rushed a late point to prevent Hawthorn from leading by more than 13 points at 1/4 time.

With Sewell, Mitchell, Bateman Crawford, Lewis and, to some extent, Hodge when he was on , the Hawks took control in the second term. Gilbert was no match for Williams as the midfield combined with Guerra, Birchall and Croad constantly propelled the Hawks into attack.It resulted in the first three goals of the term going the way of the Hawks through Williams, Brown and Osborne. Fiora broke Hawthorn's run midway through the term to snag St. Kilda's only goal, but the Hawks finished off the term with goals to Williams, Roughead and Crawford to take a 47 point lead at 1/2 time.

The Hawk midfield dominance continued in the third term with Bateman shutting down Dal Santo and the defense was equally effective with Croad and Gilham covering Riewoldt and Koschitzke. Franklin, Roughead and Rioli slammed through three goals in the first five minutes of the term to lead by 64 points. In that time, the Saints barely got near the ball. After a miss by Franklin, the Saints finally found enough fluency to get the ball forward for a goal to Montagna midway through the term. The Saints briefly rallied and benefited from several free kicks and Riewoldt broke clear to kick three goals in four minutes but the Saints still trailed Hawthorn by 49 points at 3/4 time.

The Hawks coasted to an easy win with three goals to two in the final term. Afterward they formed a guard of honor for retiring champ Robert Harvey who was chaired off the ground by teammates Hayes and Hudghton. Harvey becomes one of many champions who played 383 games without premiership glory. His departure leaves defender Max Hudghton as the only player who played in the Saints' losing Grand Final appearance in 1997 against Adelaide. Veteran Hawk Shane Crawford will play in his first Grand Final since joining the Hawks. The game next week will be his 305th.

While much media attention centered on Hodge's injury, which forced him from the ground several times and saw him coughing up blood, he described it as nothing more than a typical knock during a game and declared he would be right to play next week. Radio commentator and former Hawk hardman Dermott Brereton, who was on the receiving end of a vicious hit in the 1989 Grand Final against Geelong, described Hodge as a tough as nails player. Hawk Coach Alastair Clarkson said it would take handcuffs to keep Hodge out of the Grand Final. 

Source: Melbourne Age,, author notes

Article last changed on Monday, September 22, 2008 - 1:45 AM EDT

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