Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from Adelaide, South Australia
With half the season completed, Geelong remain unbeaten on top of the Ladder but only after a strong challenge from the Hawks. The Round 12 match was hyped as one of the biggest clashes of the year so far and a free flowing, high scoring start to the game certainly had people looking forward to a tight contest.
James Podsiadly was the big star early, dominating the game inside Geelong’s attacking 50 and giving Hawks’ defender Josh Gibson a lesson in overhead marking. Liam Shiels dominated the stoppages for the Hawks and was an absolute ball magnet with 13 first term touches but it was the Podsiadly-led Cats who went into the first change with a 19 point lead.
A free kick count of 12 to one in the Cats’ favor had Hawthorn fans voicing plenty of negative opinions towards the umpires but they soon changed their tune as the tide turned. Hawthorn rattled off five goals in a row to hit the lead in the second quarter and grab hold of the game. Geelong’s one big advantage was again Podsiadly who had 5 goals before the hapless Gibson was moved on in favor of Ryan Schoenmakers. At the long break, the big Geelong cult figure had half a dozen majors and even with the early onslaught from the Hawks, Geelong maintained a six point lead.
After half time, Hawthorn’s former captain Sam Mitchell and the sublimely skilled Cyril Rioli set up Shane Savage for an early goal to tie the score. The combined dominance of the Hawks midfielders at the clearances and their tight defense held the Cats goalless. It looked like Alastair Clarkson's men were eyeing off an upset. With Schoenmakers limiting the influence on Podsiadly, the Cats looked much less threatening up forward and needed someone to stand up in a big way to get them back into the contest. Hawthorn led by 17 points at the final break and was threatening to run away with the game.
Enter Joel Selwood, the Geelong midfielder whose onfield presence belies his years. Selwood showed exactly why he is rated so highly amongst the football fraternity. Assisted by James Kelly, Corey Enright and the freakishly-talented Steve Johnson, Selwood went about getting the Cats back in front. His attack at the ball was ferocious in the final term and he became a target across half forward where he was able to set up two of the three final quarter Geelong goals. Making the task even more difficult for Hawthorn was a severe Achilles injury to big forward and ruckman Jarryd Roughhead who now seems likely to watch the rest of the 2011 season from the sidelines. As with all good sides, the Hawks never gave up and, with less than a minute on the clock and only fine points down, they pushed forward for one last foray into their attacking zone. Unfortunately for Hawks’ fans, Lance (Buddy) Franklin was worked under the ball while on his lead and the Geelong defenders were able to clear the danger zone as the siren sounded. As Franklin went to ground, every one of the 63,476 fans in attendance had their hearts in their mouths, waiting to see if an umpire’s whistle would sound and set up the kick after the siren for the win. However there was no free kick and the Cats walked away with a classic five point victory.
Scoreboard Geelong 5.2 10.2 10.6 13.10 (88) Hawthorn 2.1 9.2 13.5 13.5 (83) Best Geelong: J Podsiadly, C Enright, J Kelly, J Selwood, S Johnson Hawthorn: L Sheils, S Mitchell, L Franklin, B Sewell, C Rioli
Article last changed on Tuesday, July 05, 2011 - 10:04 AM EDT