CATS HOLD OFF HAWKS, THROUGH TO PRELIMINARY FINAL
AFL 2016 SECOND QUALIFYING FINAL: GEELONG CATS V HAWTHORN HAWKS GEELONG were in front by three points when the final siren rang last night but had to wait and see whether Isaac Smith could put the Hawks over the line- fortunately for the Cats he missed, with Geelong through to a 'home' Preliminary Final and the Hawks to play the Western Bulldogs in a semi final next weekend instead and facing a Sydney Preliminary Final should they make it that far.
The match was a classic, and five years since the same match (a qualifying final against Hawthorn) when Daniel Menzel first did his knee- the Cats won that match on their way to the 2011 Premiership and were determined to do the same today. Geelong had the upper hand in the first quarter but couldn't quite make it show on the scoreboard, taking a 7 point lead into quarter time. Steve Motlop opened the scoring for the Cats with a goal in general play in the goal square, the first of two for him on the night.
Joel Selwood kicked the first goal of the second quarter after a 50m penalty awarded to him after his opposite number Luke Hodge showed indiscipline; the two sides exchanged goals before the Hawks booted three in a row thanks to one from Shaun Burgoyne and a brace to Luke Breust. It could have been much worse for the Cats with the Hawks registering four behinds before the Cats scored another through the lively Josh Caddy. The half time margin was the same as quarter time only the Hawks were in front by seven points not the Cats. The Selwood brothers Joel and Scott had been great to this point along with Patrick Dangerfield, Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola in the midfield and Tom Hawkins up forward- but the ruckmen Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley were quiet.
Geelong appeared to be in deep trouble when Ryan Schoenmakers kicked his second midway through to term to give the Hawks a 17 point lead, but three consecutive goals to the Cats gave them the lead. This all happened in five minutes, Menzel kicking the first, Lincoln McCarthy the second and Mark Blicavs the third- Blicavs having a good night and in form at just the right time. Breust put the Hawks back in front to huge cheers but the Cats weren't done for the quarter, Motlop taking a clever mark around 45m from goal and calmly slotting it through seconds before the final break, the Cats ahead by two points.
The final term was epic, Cyril Rioli who didn't get much of the ball inside fifty but only needs half a chance, opening the goal scoring and putting the Hawks ahead four minutes in- Cameron Guthrie snatching the lead back a couple minutes later. Burgoyne did likewise a minute after that, the Hawks refusing to go down. What followed was an arm-wrestle with a couple behinds either side before Josh Caddy kicked the winning goal- fifteen minutes after Burgoyne's goal, at the 22 minute mark.
Neither side would kick another goal though the Cats had plenty of inside fifties and kicked two behinds, the last one with around 30 seconds to go. The Hawks somehow managed to get the ball straight down the middle, even allowing for a Jordan Lewis miss-kick- Breust taking a mark outside fifty with Corey Enright on the mark. Enright managed to smother the kick, but Breust retook possession and found Isaac Smith 40m out on an easy angle but on the wrong side for a left footer. Smith gave a wry smile to a teammate before he had his shot, the ball immediately skewing wide registering only a behind- the Cats home by 2 points.
Like most Geelong supporters we had our moments during the match, blaming umpires, the AFL, coach Chris Scott, several players and an unseen force. But the players came good, the intensity after half-time and especially from the mid-point of the final quarter could not be questioned. Dangerfield and Joel Selwood were excellent, leading from the front. It is hard to see immediately who may make way for Lachie Henderson for the Preliminary Final but he is sure to come back. For this match Jed Bews missed out and may of been handy against the likes of Burgoyne, Rioli and Breust so cannot be discounted either.
It was a rough game, plenty of players left the field due to the blood rule including Luke Hodge, both Selwoods, Josh Cowan, Zac Smith, and a half dozen others. We don't expect any suspensions from the match but would not be surprised if there's a fine or two. Registration for Grand Final tickets is required on Thursday 15 September- see the club website for details (follow this link).
5.5, 10.9, 12.13 (85) DEFEATED
UMPIRES: Margetts, Meredith, Stevic
CROWD: 87,533 at MCG, Melbourne
AFL 2016 - SECOND QUALIFYING FINAL
GEELONG CATS V HAWTHORN HAWKS
FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2016 19:50 AEST