The Fremantle Dockers stunned the Geelong Cats with an upset victory at the Cattery. The Cats started as clear favorites in the match but were caught by the intensity of the Dockers' attack on the ball. The reigning premiers were on a path to the finals but hit a significant road bump on the day that coach Chris Scott set the record for the number of games as a Geelong coach. Although visiting teams rarely win on the narrow ground at GMHBA Stadium, it is the third time in the last six visits that the Dockers have won. The Cats kicked with a breeze that should have offered a three goal advantage in the first quarter but struggled to break free from the pressure the Dockers applied on the ball. The Cats locked the ball in their forward line for long periods but couldn't convert.
The first goal for Geelong came at the ten-minute mark after Tyson Stengle entered the kicker's protected zone to dispossess defender Alex Pearce and win an unusual free kick. When the Dockers attacked they kicked the ball long and high which suited the Geelong defenders Tom Stewart and Rhys Stanley who took multiple intercept marks (catches). Both teams were unable to set up attacking moves from defense. At the twenty-four minute mark the Cats finally moved the ball over a congested midfield, by kicking long to Jeremy Cameron who marked and booted long to Max Holmes, who scored from close range. However, for much of the quarter it was a game of stoppages and turnovers where neither team could take full advantage. The Dockers had the edge in clearances with James Aish, Neil Erasmus, and Luke Jackson working well in packs against Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Atkins.
If Geelong were surprised by the way the Dockers stopped their free flowing style of play in the first quarter, they were stunned by the Dockers' attacking moves at the start of second quarter. The Dockers' tactic was to bring the ball to ground in the forward line where their small forwards could dodge around their larger opponents. After two minutes, Sam Switkowski handballed to Michael Walters who snapped a good goal. At the restart, Jackson worked the ball out of the center where Serong kicked long to Michael Frederick who converted. A minute later it was Walters who gathered a loose ground ball to handpass to Switkowski, who snapped a clever goal. At the nine-minute mark Geelong fought back with a strong mark and goal from fifty meters by Tom Hawkins. However, the Dockers were winning more contested possessions through Serong, Erasmus, and Andrew Brayshaw. Geelong scrambled a goal through Oliver Henry, which was replied by former Gold Coast big man Josh Corbett soccering the ball from within the Dockers' goal square, after a Geelong defensive error. At the twenty-eight minute mark Patrick Dangerfield booted a beautifully weighted kick to Cameron who marked strongly under pressure. His kick from forty-eight meters was accurate. However, the Dockers wouldn't stop. Brayshaw kicked out of a pack to Corbett who marked and kicked truly just before the halftime siren.
The Cats began the third quarter by locking the ball in their attacking zone, but the Dockers defense lead by Pearce and Luke Ryan stood firm. The Cats' cause was not helped by poor goal kicking with Cameron missing two early shots. The Dockers continued to win more contested possessions and clearances and at the nine-minute mark, a poor defensive kick by Sam De Koning was intercepted and kicked to Sam Sturt who marked and kicked truly from a set shot. The Cats regained the lead after the silky Stengle raced through a pack and centered to Henry who marked in the goal square. A minute later, forward pressure from the Dockers saw the ball come loose to Corey Wagner who kicked to the goal line. A strong one-on-one mark by Jye Amiss against De Koning returned the lead to the Dockers with one quarter to play.
The Cats started the final stanza with a lift in intensity. Hawkins goaled from a free kick and then Dangerfield gathered close to goal, handballed to Brad Close who snapped straight and true under pressure to give the Cats a nine point lead. Six minutes later Wagner dropped a shot on goal short, so that Lachie Shultz could mark and convert for the Dockers. The ball then ricocheted between defenses until Isaac Smith gathered a loose ball after Joel Hamling was tackled, to snap truly. Four minutes later former Cat, Jordan Clark, weaved through a pack to kick the ball into open space so that Michael Frederick could use his pace to gather and snap an outstanding goal from the boundary line, and bring the Dockers to within one point. With seven minutes to play the Dockers surged forward again. Despite desperate defense by Geelong, Schultz snapped under pressure to put the Dockers five points in front. For the tense final six minutes, Pearce, Hamling, and Ryan held off Geelong attacks and Tom Stewart, Rhys Stanley, and Mitch Duncan held firm for Geelong. The Dockers managed two more behinds (worth a point each) to stop the home teams charge for the finals and win by seven.
Next week Geelong remain at home to meet second-placed Port Adelaide in what will be a stern test and a must win if they want to place well before finals. The Dockers return home to meet the Brisbane Lions who will be seething after a surprise loss to Gold Coast.
Goals Geelong Cats: 2.2 5.4 6.10 9.10 (64) Fremantle Dockers: 0.2 5.5 7.7 10.11 (71) Best Geelong Cats: Stewart, Duncan, Z Guthrie, Stanley, Bruhn Fremantle Dockers: Pearce, Brayshaw, Ryan, Serong, Wagner
Article last changed on Saturday, July 29, 2023 - 9:50 PM EDT