Michael Firrito of the Kangaroos tackles Shane Kersten of the Cats during Saturday night's game. Photo: Getty Images
GEELONG 2.6 8.8 11.12 16.15 (111) NORTH MELBOURNE 2.7 3.10 8.14 10.19 (79)
Goals: Geelong: M Duncan 3 T Hawkins 3 J Caddy 2 S Motlop 2 A Christensen H Taylor J Bartel J Selwood S Kersten T Lonergan. North Melbourne: L Thomas 3 A Black 2 B Harvey D Petrie L Greenwood M Daw N Dal Santo.
BEST: Geelong: Christensen, Selwood, Caddy, Motlop, Duncan, Kelly. North Melbourne: Greenwood, Goldstein, Thompson, Gibson, Bastinac.
Injuries: Geelong: H McIntosh (ankle) replaced in selected side by D Simpson.
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Luke Farmer, Jordan Bannister.
Official Crowd: 32,564 at Etihad Stadium.
Geelong might not be quite the powerhouse it was a few seasons ago, but you still need to be right on your game to beat the Cats. That means both taking your opportunities and keeping a cool head. And North Melbourne’s failure to do so at Etihad Stadium in a small but telling period ended up costing it dearly.
The Kangaroos were already guilty of the first sin, a wasteful 2.7 at the quarter-time break, but still leading Geelong early in the second term when several examples of the latter offence were committed, with big ramifications.
AFL Round 19, North Melbourne vs Geelong at Etihad Stadium.
AFL Round 19, North Melbourne lost by 32 points to Geelong at Etihad Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Thomas (3.1), Black (2.2), Greenwood (1.2), Daw (1.1), Harvey (1.1), Dal Santo (1.0), Petrie (1.0), Goldstein (0.2), Adams (0.1), McDonald (0.1), Wright (0.1), Ziebell (0.1)||Scorers||Duncan (3.2), Hawkins (3.1), Caddy (2.2), Motlop (2.1), Christensen (1.3), Bartel (1.1), Kersten (1.1), Lonergan (1.0), Selwood (1.0), Taylor (1.0), Enright (0.1)|
First, key defender Scott Thompson gave away a free kick to Tom Hawkins for holding in the Geelong goalsquare within two minutes. Then came another stumble on the disciplinary front, Brent Harvey giving away a free kick behind play to Allen Christensen as the Roos were surging into attack.
Christensen gave the spoils off to Mitch Duncan, who made the lead 10points. That would become 16 without the ball even being bounced again just on 10 minutes in when Harvey stumbled on the disciplinary front again, another shove to Christensen giving Geelong the ball and within seconds, Hawkins another goal.
A few minutes after that, it happened again, Majak Daw this time the culprit with a jolt on Shane Kersten away from play. A difficult shot for Joel Selwood was now a ‘‘gimme’’ from the goal line courtesy of a 50-metre penalty.
To be honest, none of those indiscretions were anything that could be classed as serious. Yet all were unnecessary. And oh-so-costly, a line-ball game now tilted 22 points in Geelong’s favour. And while the Roos kept coming, five of the first seven goals of the second half getting them right back in the ball game, that advantage was nonetheless maintained.
Geelong was cleaner when it counted. Certainly more accurate. And kept kicking its goals at more critical moments.
Like the last two of the first quarter. The final two of the second as well, making it six to one in that decisive 30-odd minutes. The final one of the third just when North, with the likes of Ryan Bastinac and Jack Ziebell lifting, had reduced the gap to 10 points. And a powerful burst of four in the opening to the final term put the result beyond doubt.
North Melbourne had briefly looked like it might pose a serious threat, casting aside its shocking inaccuracy of a first half in which it kicked 3.10, getting a big lift out of the previously subdued Lindsay Thomas, and when Petrie converted a sizzler of a pass from Ziebell, clearly in the ascendancy.
But the Cats always had an answer. At that moment, a big one, too, Motlop’s kick into space launching a footrace won by Duncan, who cleverly allowed a charging Nick Dal Santo to sail right past him on the goal line, and tap home the easiest of six-pointers.
And if that didn’t take the wind right out of North’s sails, a goal within the first minute of the final term to Christensen, another to Motlop then a couple from Hawkins and Jimmy Bartel certainly did. It was no more reward for effort that Geelong deserved.
It was the Cats who had the more dangerous runners, Christensen the best example, his dash just as damaging as his actual possessions, of which there were plenty.
Motlop offered the same, and even more danger near the goalfront. Josh Caddy was a big plus out of this game, strong in the contest and at the stoppages, while Mitch Duncan solid and Selwood exactly what you’d expect.
In defence, Harry Taylor, Tom Lonergan and Jared Rivers kept a tight rein on Roos’ key forwards Drew Petrie, Arron Black and Daw.
It was not spectacular but very efficient stuff from Geelong, one in which its wins for both contested possession and clearances were, in a September sense, every bit as telling as the final 32-point margin.
North had a real workhorse in Levi Greenwood, arguably the only four-quarter performer, a decent contributor in Thompson on Hawkins, a star early in ruckman Todd Goldstein, who was not only winning the hitouts but racking up the sort of touches you’d expect of those roving to him.
But the Roos got a rare quiet one from Harvey, those couple of off-the-play frees making this evening an unusually poor one for him.
They couldn’t hit targets enough and early on, certainly not that imaginary one between the two goalposts.