PODSIADLY COMES OF AGE AS CATS BURY PORT BY 95 POINTS
By Anthony Jensen GEELONG treated a packed new-look Skilled Stadium to a scintillating display of football to comfortably defeat Port Adelaide by 95 points on a warm Sunday afternoon which included a third quarter that boasted 11 Geelong goals to Port's solitary major.
The victory is Geelong's 24th in a row at home which is the most ever for an AFL/VFL side. Ironically, Geelong's last home defeat was against Port Adelaide in round 21, 2007 thanks to a last minute Dominic Cassisi goal. In the VFL the Cats lost to Hawthorn affiliate Box Hill.
5.3 8.7 19.14 23.21 (159) DEFEATED
CROWD: 25,579 at Skilled Stadium
UMPIRES: Donlon, Chamberlain, Armstrong
The day began with three important ceremonies. The impressive and long awaited Premiership Stand, replacing the Past Players Stand, was unveiled with the help of AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and some big Geelong names including Frank Costa, Brian Cook, Daryl Somers and Rob Hulls. The second addition to Kardinia Park was the 2009 AFL premiership flag, unfurled and hoisted by coach Bomber Thompson and the retiring captain Tom Harley. Earlier, Harley had completed a lap with the 2009 premiership cup to be farewelled by fans, being joined in the utes by other past or present Geelong players or their descendants holding aloft the Cats' other seven premiership cups from which the Premiership Stand draws its name.
With the formalities completed, a tight first half got under way. The Cats' account was opened by James "J-Pod" Podsiadly after he laid a strong tackle that earned him a free kick. It would be the first of five goals for the 28-year-old second gamer, who along with 11 marks was the most damaging big forward on the ground and looks to be a true full forward capable of drawing the first or second best defender. No mean feat for a talented VFL veteran once thought to have left his best footy behind him.
Steve Johnson (six goals) got on the end of a Cam Mooney pass and looks to have regained some of the magic we saw early last year that he lost due to a hip injury. A snap pass from emerging youngster Mitch Duncan to Gary Ablett (37 disposals) delivered Gaz his first goal of three for the afternoon.
For Port's part, captain Warren Tredrea looked back to his mobile best as he waltzed around Tom Lonergan and snapped a goal from 20m out to keep his side within 13 points at the first change. Throughout the day, Kane Cornes reveled in his new onball role and Danyle Pearce was the hardest worker down back but they had little support.
The second quarter was won by Port Adelaide but only after a run of three goals from Geelong. Paul Chapman bombed a long one after receiving a handball from Jimmy Bartel, who found space thanks to some quality tap ruckwork by Mark Blake, who often went up against struggling part timer Justin Whestoff. The Chapstick was involved in another goal, linking up with Ablett to give Stevie J a gimme in the square. Port came back in the second half of the quarter by increasing their tackling pressure and scoring through Robbie Gray and ex-Geelong listed player Jason Davenport.
Whatever Bomber fed his charges during the long break, I want some, because they proceeded to tear Port apart at the seams. An Ablett snap on the left foot from the pocket began a barrage of goals for the home side, with Chapman scoring seconds later after benefiting from another snap from Gaz that fell just short. Deciding to stay forward rather than rotate back onto the ball, Gaz showed his strength once again in the same forward pocket as he broke through a tackle, twisted, turned and repaid the favour to Duncan who continued his impressive goal-a-game average for his four game career.
After a blistering 12 minutes, Geelong had scored six unanswered goals and amassed 50 possessions to Port's 18. But the pain didn't stop there with the returning Darren Milburn laying a nose-breaking shirtfront on Chad Cornes, and Harry Taylor continuing to take contested marks across half back, keeping Port to a miserable five inside 50's for the quarter compared to Geelong's impressive 21.
An almost unbelievable moment of brilliance from Stevie J midway through the third quarter characterised the day. Under pressure and running on to a bouncing ball 25m out, Johnson tapped the footy out of the air onto his boot and watched it sail through the middle to put the game's result beyond doubt.
The final quarter wasn't abundant with highlights, but it was clear that Geelong didn't take the foot off the accelerator, even if Port Adelaide did. Ablett was kind enough to rack up 10 posessions in 10 minutes, seemingly unconsciously aware that he is my Dreamteam and Supercoach captain.
Now 3-1, Geelong face Carlton next Monday in an ANZAC Day public holiday clash at the 'G.
HILL 5.4 8.5 13.11 15.15 (105) DEFEATED