Cats scrape past Blues
Geelong displayed their penchant for comeback wins with a thrilling six-point triumph over Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.PT0M0S 620 349
GEELONG 3.2 6.5 8.13 11.16 (82) CARLTON 1.4 5.6 9.10 11.10 (76)
Goals: Geelong: S Motlop 3, A Christensen 2, G Horlin-Smith, H McIntosh, J Caddy, J Selwood, J Thurlow, M Blicavs. Carlton: B Gibbs 2, J Waite 2, T Menzel 2, C Judd, C Yarran, M Murphy, S White, T Bell.
BEST Geelong: Caddy, Taylor, Selwood, Christensen, Mackie, Blicavs. Carlton: Carrazzo, Gibbs, Docherty, Murphy, Curnow, Rowe.
Injuries: Geelong: J Murdoch (hip) replaced in selected side by J Thurlow. Carlton: D Ellard (ankle), D Thomas (knee), T Menzel (shoulder), B McLean (calf), replaced in selected side by D Armfield.
Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Brett Rosebury, Brendan Hosking.
Official Crowd: 38,812 at Etihad Stadium.
Geelong's sighs of relief and Carlton's boos echoed through the Etihad chamber at the final siren, but the feature of this game that might resound furthest into the future was the Blues' courage. Truthfully told, the Cats won this game 22-19, which was their numerical advantage from shortly after half-time.
Yet as late as time-on in the last quarter, the Blues still led by two kicks, and lost ulitmately by one. It was the sort of defeat upon which a club might build. "So rapt," said coach Mick Malthouse. "But it's difficult to take a loss after that effort."
Any which way: Geelong's Joel Selwood leads the Blues on a merry dance. Photo: Getty Images
- Q4 28:40
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Menzel (2.2), Gibbs (2.1), Waite (2.1), Murphy (1.1), Bell (1.0), Judd (1.0), White (1.0), Yarran (1.0), Armfield (0.1), Docherty (0.1), Ellard (0.1)||Scorers||Motlop (3.2), Christensen (2.1), Caddy (1.2), McIntosh (1.2), Blicavs (1.1), Thurlow (1.1), Horlin-Smith (1.0), Selwood (1.0), Hawkins (0.3), Mackie (0.1)|
The best that can be said about the Cats on Friday night is what has been said about them all season; they got there. It is not an insignificant faculty in a finals-bound team. This was their seventh win in a row. But in the absence of Steve Johnson and Jimmy Bartel, these Cats were without their cream, and sometimes it showed. Premiership cornerstones James Kelly and Corey Enright both yielded goals with ambitious efforts to clear the ball from the chalk of the goal-line. "We're an attacking side," said coach Chris Scott. "But that was too attacking even for us." Otherwise, he described this heart-stopper as "good practice".
Unannounced, Carlton-Geelong has grown into a classic rivalry. The Cats have won their last five meetings, but by a total of 41 points, two this year by 11.
The night began in the now traditional way, with a free kick to Joel Selwood, and two disposals later, a goal for Mark Blicavs. It was the trigger for a fizzing quarter of football, befitting two in-form teams.
The Cats' movement was as quicksilver. In their hands, the ball was a living thing, leaping from one to the next. Partly, this was because of Carlton pressure measurable in PSIs, partly because that is how they like it anyway. The Blues won the ball squarely, but did themselves a disservice with poorly measured kicks, to one another and at goal.
Jarrad Waite equalised by crumbing to himself. But the Blues looked around in astonishment when Selwood bobbed up to kick a goal; had he not been on the bench a moment before? Motlop made it three with a three-touch run from half-back. It was characteristic of the way the Cats went about their well-honed business.
As the match settled, a non-aggression pact was agreed, lest neither side made it to half-time. Carlton asserted aerial superiority and straightened up its kicking and suddenly led. This effort spoke well of the new Blues; it was achieved despite a thinning of resources as David Ellard limped out of the game and Dale Thomas, after a heavy fall, was able to move only gingerly, with strapping fortifying his left knee.
He tried to return to the fray twice, to no avail.
The Blues also had to contend with their sense of injustice, given angry voice in the crowd, as Selwood was awarded a contentious free kick at half-back - here was tradition again - and with a typical Geelong whoosh, it became a goal for Motlop. What the howling could not change was that this game again was running to Selwood's tempo.
In the third term, Carlton was a hydra. An injury to Troy Menzel left the Blues with one on the bench, yet they swarmed over the Cats. Yarran put behind him an horrendous first half to kick a three-bounce goal, the turf disappearing beneath his feet as if it was a treadmill, whereupon the rafters shook.
Geelong was atypically jittery in defence, astray in attack and under the cosh in midfield, where Andrew Carazzo at last muzzled Selwood and Bryce Gibbs smoothly took control. Kelly was too cute by half when he tried to handball along the goal-line; Menzel stuck out a boot and it became a striker's goal. It was the sort of trick only the absent Steve Johnson might have pulled.
As late as the 20-minute mark in the last quarter, the Blues still were clinging to a two-kick lead, courtesy of an inspired pass by greenhorn Ciaran Sheehan to Gibbs and Waite's mark from Enright's rookie-naive clearance directly to centre-half back. In vain, the Cats looked around for Bartel, the fourth quarter player nonpareil.
But the Blues were restricted as if by a harness horse's gear. Still, it took the Cats their last man, substitute Jackson Thurlow, and their last stroke of fortune, to get over the line. That stroke was the last of a series of free kicks paid by non-controlling umpires on the night, for the merest of contact on Allen Christensen. Clapping filled the arena, and you suspect that it was as much for Carlton as for Geelong. Scott and Malthouse both thought there was much to take out of the match, Scott next month, Malthouse next season.