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.
But for poor kicking, Geelong dominated the second quarter. Despite this outcome, Bailey gave the Lions some hope when he kicked an early goal. But Rohan, Miers and Hawkins added unanswered goals to see the Cats lead by 30 points at the main break. Brisbane needed some answers.
Geelong picked up where they left off in the second half. Dominating the contested ball and the clearances, Stengle kicked the first of his two goals for the quarter. Charlie Cameron can spark his team when they need it and he added a goal, but he was rarely sighted through the rest of the game. Further goals through Hawkins, Miers, Rohan, Sellwood and for good measure to Hawkins and Stengle again saw Geelong streak far ahead.
Jarrod Berry reprieved from suspension by appeal this week, got one back late in the third quarter but the margin of 63 points, while not impossible for Brisbane to overcome in the final quarter, was a feat never achieved in a Preliminary final. While Geelong could be forgiven for letting the foot off the pedal to cruise into next week, they continued to dominate. Cameron kicked his only goal for the night and Hawkins kicked his fourth to put the match clearly beyond doubt. Two late consolation goals from Hipwood, would do no damage to the Cats but maybe give a little hope to Lions fans he can return to top form next season free of injury.
In the end it was a massive 71 point win to Geelong. The benefit of the week off showed in their form and they look to have set up their run at the 2022 Premiership perfectly. With Cameron and Hawkins both in good form up forward (only poor kicking could be their downfall), with foils such as Stengle, and the relentlessness of their ageless midfield combined with steadfast defense from the likes of Tuohy, De Koning, Stewart, Bews, Guthrie, and Henry they may just have the balance right this year. They last appeared in a crushing loss against Richmond in the 2020 Grand Final and haven't won the title since 2011. Only Holmes looks to be doubtful after he limped off in the third quarter, and like tonight, he may be replaced next week by O'Connor.
For the Lions they bow out at the Preliminary Final, after losing the Semi-Final to the Bulldogs last year, and having won last week at the MCG they would consider this finals series a step forward as they look to build on their own long term run at a Premiership in 2023.
GEELONG: 4.2 7.7 14.11 18.12 (120) BRISBANE: 2.0 3.1 5.2 7.7 (49) GOALS Geelong: Hawkins 4, Stengle 3, Dangerfield 2, Miers 2, Rohan 2, Cameron, Close, Guthrie, Holmes, Selwood Brisbane: Hipwood 2, Ah Chee, Bailey, Berry, Cameron, McCarthy BEST Geelong: Dangerfield, Miers, Hawkins, Stengle, Kolodjashnij, Close Brisbane: Gardiner, Rich, Neale, Bailey INJURIES Geelong: Holmes (hamstring) Brisbane: Rayner (ankle) SUBSTITUTES Geelong: Mark O'Connor (replaced Holmes in the third quarter) Brisbane: Rhys Mathieson (replaced Rayner in the third quarter)
Article last changed on Friday, September 16, 2022 - 1:54 PM EDT