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Footy Repair: The Cats are again

Footy Repair: The Cats are again


There was a second on Saturday night time the place Geelong introduced to the footy world, after a sluggish begin to 2023, that they’re again as a drive to be reckoned with.

It wasn’t when Tom Hawkins comprehensively outmuscled Callum Mills for the Cats’ third objective inside quarter-hour of the opening quarter, although that did set the tone for the 93-point rout that adopted.

It wasn’t Patrick Dangerfield slamming via a six-pointer from proper on 50 within the second time period, the kind of objective 33-year olds actually haven’t any enterprise kicking after a decade and a half of blood, sweat and tears.

It wasn’t even Bradley Shut’s sensational run-down deal with on Chad Warner, to completely sum up each the Cats’ relentless strain and ferocity and their staff clamp on the one Swan in final yr’s grand ultimate who provided any resistance.

No. It was at half time, with the Cats 35 factors to the nice, when Tom Stewart gave the troops a speaking to after coming ever so barely off the boil within the ultimate 5 minutes earlier than the siren.

The Cats had each proper to be content material with their barnstorming first half, one which ended with a margin only one behind what it was on that memorable Saturday in September final yr. After efficient however inconsistent wins over Hawthorn and West Coast of their earlier fortnight, Stewart made positive there was no such complacency.

The end result was the Cats’ first four-quarter effort for the reason that grand ultimate, and formally proved that this facet has not solely the capability, however the need, to do all of it once more in 2023.

Geelong didn’t concede a objective after half time, in a match they already had by the scruff of the throat. This stays an excellent soccer facet.

It’s necessary to acknowledge the Swans’ weaknesses: minus Paddy McCartin, Tom McCartin and Dane Rampe, their defence was by no means going to face as much as the Cats’ multi-pronged ahead line in the event that they acquired any sort of territory benefit.

And so it proved: that Hawkins, the largest, baddest key ahead within the recreation, was stood by Mills, the Swans’ greatest midfielder, confirmed simply how determined John Longmire was. Shorn of Joel Amartey and Lance Franklin in assault, too, their ahead line was with out contested-marking choices to talk of, and left Logan McDonald woefully outnumbered on the few events the ball got here his means.

However to place this match right down to accidents doesn’t give the Cats sufficient credit score, nor the Swans sufficient blame. Just one facet got here to GMHBA Stadium with a degree to show, and it wasn’t the one which acquired humiliated final September. No staff with flag aspirations needs to be embarrassed to the extent the Swans had been.

For the second match in a row, the Cats comprehensively obliterated the Swans across the ball. The numbers weren’t as stark as within the grand ultimate, however it was each bit as one-sided, not least as a result of the Cats this yr have had a weak spot in that regard.

Warner was a shining mild final time, so the Cats ready: for the primary half, Mark O’Connor caught with him away from the contests, whereas Tom Atkins minded him at centre bounces. The purpose was by no means to disclaim Warner the ball, however to verify each possession was hard-earned, underneath strain, and in a confined house.

It meant Warner ended with a creditable six clearances, however none along with his trademark velocity breaking away into open house and driving the ball deep into the Swans’ assault. For a participant as damaging because the Sydney primary, 11 of 20 possessions being contested is a sizeable win – and only one inside 50, after 5 within the grand ultimate, is even higher.

Examine his efficiency to Dangerfield’s, the Cats’ most damaging inside midfielder from the grand ultimate. James Rowbottom stood with him at stoppages, however it achieved little: Dangerfield was simply too robust and too highly effective.

He completed with seven clearances, two fewer than Warner, however there was a key distinction. When Dangerfield gained the ball, it was usually objective facet of Rowbottom, permitting him to burst into open house and do what he’s finished repeatedly within the final three weeks – discover Hawkins’ barrel chest on the lead.

Dangerfield headed inside 50 on seven events – and with the Swans’ defence at breaking pressure and the veteran kicking higher than he has in years, it was doom.

Up ahead, the plan was easy: divide and conquer. Hardly ever had been Hawkins and Cameron ever in the identical neighborhood inside 50; if Hawkins led a technique, Cameron went the opposite. Each comprehensively dominated their opponents, however even when one had been quiet, they’d have functioned completely as a decoy.

With the Swans so frightened of that duo, others slipped via the cracks: Sam Simpson and Gary Rohan bobbed up for 3 marks inside 50 every, whereas Dangerfield and Ollie Henry every had two, as a part of 22 marks within the attacking arc – the Swans had 5.

Shut introduced the warmth with frenetic strain, an enormous a part of the Cats’ eight objectives from ahead half intercepts; whereas hyperlink man Gryan Miers additionally helped drag Swans defenders away from the hazard zones with relentless main and feeding again with the play.

A lot of the Swans’ demise was self-inflicted. Mills at full again neither solved the Hawkins difficulty, whereas additionally robbing the Swans of their greatest contested ball winner. Rowbottom, Errol Gulden and co. had been as soon as once more no match for the ferocious Cats on the coalface, particularly Dangerfield; the bullocking presence of Mark Blicavs, nominally the ruckman however actually an outsized rover, made it much more one-sided.

The Cats kicked 9 objectives to at least one from stoppages, gained contested possessions (usually a weak spot, because it was towards Gold Coast) 140-119, and all whereas dropping the clearances 35-36. Within the immortal phrases of Jasper Beardly, that’s a paddlin’.

Up ahead, Aaron Francis introduced neither strain nor an aerial affect till the ultimate quarter, by which period the horse had bolted midway up the Hume Freeway. It meant fewer crumbs for Tom Papley, dealt with masterfully by Stewart all night time, and left the Cats capable of even use Sam De Koning within the ruck for prolonged intervals, even with Blicavs nonetheless on the ball.

Within the third quarter, with the match gone and the margin already ballooned, Longmire lastly switched Francis into defence and pushed Mills onto the ball. It didn’t work – by then, the Cats smelled blood within the water – and completely confirmed the Swans’ scrambled pondering.

66 factors down isn’t the time to shake issues up – certainly, the Swans’ solely hope with their second-string backline was to throw all the pieces on the stoppages and take a look at for territory domination.

Mills, Parker and Warner at centre bounces, Papley and Heeney to rotate in, and use Peter Ladhams’ dimension and ruck craft benefit over Blicavs to welly it ahead at each alternative. They may have had an opportunity at protecting the margin underneath 10 objectives – realistically, although, they didn’t have a prayer of victory with Geelong on this kind of temper.

54 inside 50s for the Cats introduced with them 20 scores – however that was at all times going to be the case. Geelong breaking even within the clearances is demise for each single staff they play – it means they’ve acquired their fingers on the ball sufficient to present their ahead line satisfactory provide, and ensures repeat inside 50 entries to place their backs underneath the pump are uncommon.

Actually, the one lull was in these 5 minutes earlier than half time, when the Swans acquired on high across the ball with 14 contested possessions to 11. Their one-wood all night time, defensive transition, got here into play, with three of the Swans’ 5 first half objectives launched from their again 50. Two fast objectives and a 6-3 inside 50 benefit gave the barest of impressions the worm had turned.

Then Stewart had his say, and after half time, regular service resumed.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats is tackled by Luke Parker of the Swans.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats is tackled by Luke Parker of the Swans. (Photograph by Quinn Rooney/Getty Pictures)

This was as disheartening a efficiency from the Swans as any underneath John Longmire: relatively than studying from the errors that tore them aside within the grand ultimate, they had been much more brutally uncovered.

The Swans went in attempting to guard their defence as a lot as they might, with the end result that they at no level gave attempting to win even half a crack. In the event that they had been enjoying the round-ball soccer, it was like placing each participant within the objectives and simply attempting to dam each shot.

Longmire likes to put Mills behind the ball on the first signal of hazard, with the end result virtually invariably ceding management across the ball. I’d name it a panic, besides it occurs each week, and there’s absolutely sufficient information by now to inform that it ain’t working.

The Swans, as thrilling as any staff to look at in full flight, had been held goalless for a half. Pretty much as good because the Cats had been, they couldn’t have made it any simpler for them in the event that they’d tried.



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