Round Three Geelong V Port Adelaide Kardinia Park April 10 2011
Our first game at home this season, Kardinia Park that is, our real home. It has been a fortress for the last four seasons; another win today will make it 24 on the trot. The papers have done their best to spruik the game by reminding us that the last team to beat Geelong at the Cattery was Port, in round 21 2007. That game is memorable personally for three reasons.
- I was on roster at the local art gallery back in Busselton so I couldn’t watch it. I took a portable telly with me but the reception was horrendous and the game was just a swirling blur of black and white static. At least the sound was clear.
- Port lead for much of the game but the Cats looked like they had snatched a dramatic victory when Gary Ablett danced his way around 3-4 Port defenders to slot a brilliant goal with less than two minutes left.
- Domenic Cassissi spoiled the party by kicking an equally dramatic if anti-climactic winner with about 10 seconds to go. Subsequent analysis blamed a fumble from Henry Playfair for giving him the ball and the chance to be Port’s hero. Coincidence or not, Henry never played for the Cats again, being traded to Sydney at the end of the season and not even their famed recycling resurrection powers could save his career.
Geelong and Port met again a few weeks later in the famous drought breaking Grand Final and since then have travelled hugely divergent paths.
So far in 2011 Port are in trouble and the Cats have started well.
Before the game Max Rooke does a lap of honour in the back of a Ford.
He is a crowd favourite and receives a rousing reception. Injections of calf blood in Germany enabled him to heal from a serious hamstring injury and take his place in the 2007 premiership side and in the epic ’09 Grand Final Maxie kicked the first and last goals of the game. Sadly 2010 was ruined by injury and in the end his body said “Enough”. Geelong are a pretty strong team physically but all of us miss Max’s toughness, he was the nearest thing we had to an enforcer.
This game starts slowly. Marred by inaccuracy and missed chances and at quarter time the scores are pretty close. After quarter time it becomes one way traffic as the Cats set about pummelling an ineffectual Port. 62 inside 50s to 22 and 15 goals to 5 in Geelong’s favour, end of story.
James Kelly seems to be relishing his greater midfield opportunities and tackles everything that moves. Steve Johnson kicks a typical Stevie J goal.
New coach Chris Scott has performed his first miracle: keeping Brad Ottens fit and on the ground and that makes a huge difference to the whole team. Mark Blake may be destined never to play his 100th game; this week Tom Hawkins takes 2nd ruck duties and does a reasonable job. Cat’s fans have had to be patient with the Tomahawk but the experts always say big blokes need longer and I’m prepared to give him the time he needs to develop. I like him a lot.
By half time it’s clear the Cats will win and a little bit of the sting goes out of the game. There’s a procession of goals and goal kickers and all the kids who’ve been selected give a good account of themselves. Daniel Menzel in particular has good goal sense and that rare quality of “time with ball in hand”. Some players always seem rushed and under pressure but Menzel doesn’t and he kicks a couple of goals.
Jimmy Bartel has started the season on fire and takes six contested marks and kicks two goals. Only Moons and the J-Pod are quiet, in fact big Cam ends up at centre half back. Versatility seems to be one of Chris Scott’s strategies as he employs subtle rather than radical changes.
Port leave Kardinia Park empty handed and the gulf between the two teams seems as wide as ever.