Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Foregone Conclusion Cup

If last week was the equivalent of some really long and pointless Swedish movie that you can't quite understand, then this week had the potential to be a Cannibal Holocaust style violent slasher snuff film. In case you were hit on the head by a rogue Brent Grgic slice at Baytec Stadium and have just woken up from the resultant coma - Geelong are quite a good team these days, Grgic doesn't play for them anymore and nobody is quite sure what Kardinia Park is called this week. I'm not sure if the first two are connected.

We, however, are struggling. The green shoots of recovery are there somewhere but we're still a long way from seeing any real returns on our investments. Last week against Adelaide we were arguably half decent but let down by the complete absence of a forward structure for most of the game. The long awaited return of Russell Robertson addressed that issue somewhat, but the fact of the matter still remained that the worst team of the past two years was lining up against the best and a world class porking was on the cards.

Somehow despite the Cats racking up an all-time record for the most disposals in one game with two players on more than 40 possesions, and having 36 scoring shots it didn't happen this way. Whisper it quietly we were even winning at one point. Sure, it was for about two minutes at the end of the first quarter and it stirred the Cats into switching gear and putting us away but it was nice while it lasted. The freak who had a casual $500,000 on Geelong to win $25k surely wouldn't have been too concerned (after all you would have to have grapefruits the size of Peru to put a bet like that on in the first place) but he must have been wondering if Geelong could possibly find a way to throw the match. They couldn't.

Speaking of world records I'm not sure I've ever seen a quicker goal from the first - or indeed any - bounce that didn't involve a downfield free kick or a 50. For some reason Ablett, coming off about 4000 possesions in a month was allowed to stand all on his own in the centre. I'm sure everyone in the world could see what was going to happen next and lo and behold fate didn't disappoint. Straight into his hands, wandered to just outside 50 and slotted it in 9 seconds.

On the strength of that moment alone things looked like they were going to get really, really ugly but in reality after that we spent the next 25 minutes being better than we had any right to be while the Cats seemed to be suffering a major lack of interest. I can understand where they're coming from, having won 48 of the last 51 games including a couple of grand finals it must be difficult to get yourself motivated to be dragged into a slopfest against the worst team in the land. If we'd been able to kick straight we'd have made it even more interesting. The much welcome return of Robertson delivered a couple of nervous looking points but more importantly put somebody into our forward line who could go on a long lead and mark without tripping over and killing themselves.

Down the other end the Cats were going inside 50 without trouble, but a combination of excellent defensive work and poor kicking kept us from being totally destroyed. I'm going to say this every week but Frawley, Warnock, Martin and Rivers are starting to develop into a formidable unit. If we can keep them together in the future that's the springboard to build a decent team from. Even Rivers' luck must have swung around somewhat, the knock he got to the knee in Q3 would probably have ended up with him in hospital over the last few years but this time he was back within minutes taking grabs and filling gaps inside 50. The only blemish on his record was a sloppy shanked kick straight down Johnson's throat in the second.

Not surprisingly, as often happens a good team held to a points draw by a poor team in the first quarter realises what's going on during the quarter time break and come out to rectify the situation before half time. Suddenly they had free players everywhere and were putting more pressure on our players leading to turnovers left, right and centre and textbook rebound football on their behalf. Only Paul Johnson's late goal - and he was at least better than he has been recently - kept us within six goals at the long break and it seemed as if any remaining resistance was going to collapse in a screaming heap.

5 Geelong behinds and a goal to start the third quarter made it look like we were going to get bitchslapped, but Robbo's 2nd and 3rd goals - celebrated wildly despite the scoreboard - dragged it back to 30 points before they got a couple of late ones. We pulled off a couple of pieces of sublime linking football but time and time again we'd do the hard work and turn it over. At least they tried something different in the forward line by sending the Stefan Martin Experience up there for the first time. He gave off a couple of clever assists and looked lively but I'm hardly declaring him to be the future of goalscoring. Similarly Petterd was lively again without ever dominating.

The key fourth quarter highlight was Davey's flying smother in the centre. How good was that? I'm still convinced that we're lacking crumb, but I have to admit that he is dominating in his new role. Hawkins - aka the Geelong Newton - finally flounced his way to a goal to open the quarter but with Ablett off, Scarlett rested and most of their other players struggling to maintain interest we won the last. Incidentally Juice could make a fortune if he franchised his style of gameplay - Hawkins in Geelong, Gill in Adelaide. Could be big bucks in it for him.

Ironically we've now gone into games against Geelong twice in two years expecting to get massacred and come away with a creditable performance both times. Then when we were in relatively decent form last year and played them on the Friday night they cut us to shreds. The moral of the story? Throw ourselves on the mercy of the footballing world every week before we play them.

Nobody seriously expected us to win so what did we really lose today? The pro-tank bin scab faction were probably sitting there in Geelong scarves punting it home, and the rest of us saw a team that is a couple of years away from being truly competitive no matter who ends up joining us via the draft.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Aaron Davey
4 - James Frawley
3 - Russell Robertson
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Stefan Martin

Varying degrees of apologies to Miller, Rivers, Jones, Warnock, McLean, McDonald, Petterd, Meesen, Sylvia and Morton

On the other side of the coin we have to work out what's wrong with Bate. Ever since he was one of a handful of contributors in Adelaide a few weeks back he has had three consecutive games of complete pox. You would have thought that the return of Robbo would free him up to play further up the ground, and while he got a little bit of it late on it was still well under his best.

Maric had an absolute nightmare. After showing a lot of promise last season and sneaking into the bests for Casey in most of their early games he turned up today and played undoubtedly the worst game since either of Weetra's spectacular performances at the start of last season. I suppose you give everyone a second chance but good god he'd want to improve significantly on the Keystone Kops trash he served up today.

Leaderboard

For the first couple of weeks it was how far Green, now it's Davey who is streaking to the title. Cheney still leads the Hilton on the strength of Round 1 alone but the voting system could prove controversial if he's still in that position come R22. In reality Bennell is really the moral leader at this point.

17 - Aaron Davey
11 - Brent Moloney
8 - Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones, Brock McLean, Stefan Martin
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
Two things that should be outlawed - forcibly if required.

1) Grown men waving flags

It's bad enough as it is, but unlike kids who just swing the thing around without concern and nearly take your eye out the grown man flag waver goes about his craft with an intensity bordering on psychotic. They wave the thing around in intricate patterns as if not following the same sick ritual will cause the world to end.

Judgement - Nobody over 13 years old shall henceforth be permitted to wave a flag unless they are in a cheer squad.

Sure cheer squads should be shot as well but that's for another day.

2) Teenybopper female fans displaying homemade signs.

No person, male or female, older than 13 to bring a handwritten homemade sign declaring their undying love for a player. We're all for women in football here but ask yourself how many times you see a 16-year-old with an "I HEART PLAYER X" handwritten sign when your team is losing. The "ILUVROBBO24" faction dropped off the twig a couple of years ago, but they were out there in numbers and are waiting for us to fire up again so they can come back. There were two girls sitting in front of me today who must have been in their mid-20's and were waving signs about telling us how much they loved Joel Selwood. One day Geelong are going to turn rancid and these people will disappear.

Judgement: Handwritten signs to be banned. Sew a banner with a terrible pun a'la the cheersquad or at least spraypaint it on a
bedsheet and display the thing at the top of the Southern Stand.

Female fans of a legal age shall henceforth follow historical tradition and only declare their love for individual players on the internet or in the back seat of cars outside seedy nightclubs.

Kasey Korner
Caught the last three quarters of the game against Coburg. Newton kicked five and no doubt will get a recall sometime before the end of the season but I was most impressive by Danny Hughes. Would love to see him get a game before the end of the year. Whelan was impressive as well, but to be entirely honest I'm not sure where he fits into our plans at the moment. Bennell has been too good to drop, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to switch the two around at some point. The really interesting one is Wheatley - where does he come back? To be honest I don't see any point to him at the moment.

Oh and there was some kid called Watts who was quite good as well. Makes Morton look like Hulk Hogan at the moment though so I still can't support playing him before the halfway mark of the year. Could be an absolute stud in the future though if his senior debut was anything to go by.

The Tombstone Report
It's the year of players mysteriously getting injured. First Garland, then McDonald and now Sam Blease - leg snapped in two during a schoolyard kickaround. My god.

For this reason if Watts is going to play school football then I volunteer to go to each game and throw myself in front of him at every contest.

Radio Watch
Triple M is my preferred listening at a game, but overall it is an absolutely gash radio station. Don't you just want to stab Pete and Myf in the face? And the claim in their jingle that it's "the breakfast show that Melbourne wakes up to" should be investigated by the Advertising Standards Tribunal if the ratings are anything to go by.

Next Week
West Coast in Perth in the 4.40pm Sunday game. They're hardly setting the world on fire at the moment but there's more chance of peace in the Middle East than there is of us winning anywhere west of Melbourne at the moment.

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