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NIPPED by George on the Outer



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Melbourne’s twenty eight point loss to Geelong down at Taxpayer Funded Park provided plenty of cat-nip for the Geelong fans and their team. 

After all, the Cats go away thinking they have now got the Demons sorted after the embarrassments heaped upon them last season and their taste of this cat-nip will get even stronger in the coming weeks, courtesy of the AFL draw which gives them three more home games at the same venue in the six remaining rounds. 

Yet Melbourne, despite this loss, were within a kick half way through the final quarter, and were they to steal a win, would have truly put terror into Geelong’s future prospects when playing the Demons.  It wasn’t to be, but just as equally it should be recognised how well Geelong prepared for the game and executed that tactic so well.

Within the skinny confines of Mordor oval, the Cats have completely changed their approach and tactics.  Last season it was all about possession, chip and kick, move around the flanks until sending the ball to the tall forwards.  In this match it was all about territory, something at which Melbourne has been the exponent experts for quite a while.

Equally, Melbourne were forced into the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scenario with its forward structure. Without a second tall, the plan was to move Petracca forward more often and deeper.  Yes, it produced three goals from him, but what was the cost to the midfield?  Centre clearances 16:8. …. Clearances around the ground, 54: 36. 

Problem for Melbourne was that with this skinny ground, and losing particularly the centre square, is that the ball finished in the Geelong forward line again and again.  Putting Harmes into the middle means Petracca wasn’t there.  Petracca finished with only 2 clearances for the game.  Two!!  Can’t blame him because he was cooling his jets trying to mend a forward line hole. 

No Petracca made it doubly easy for the Cats.  Stick a tag on Oliver, and while you can’t hold him back, he has no partner in crime to get the ball to, when things get tight.  And it releases Guthrie from having to go head to head with the best in the competition.

The backs simply played magnificently considering the onslaught coming in from the middle. At one point in the game the ball stayed in Geelong’s forward line for 15 minutes straight!.  The Demons simply couldn’t get the ball out of there….why?   Skinny ground and compounded by Geelong defenders, particularly their tall ones moving up the ground.  De Koning, Blicavs and Henry only had to worry about Ben Brown, and they could set a wall up across the centre. And with Gawn and Jackson returning from injury, their output proved to be severely curtailed with Gawn not managing to record a single mark in the game! 

But Geelong were smart.  They moved the ball through the centre with long kicks to gain territory.  This completely nullified the advantage of James Jordan and Ed Langdon on the wings, and more importantly stopped the up-ground pressure from the likes of Alex Neal-Bullen, Toby Bedford and Kozzy Pickett.  Without that pressure it has to be questioned the value of a couple of those players to the overall performance, if they can’t do anything else other than run around. Not much use if the ball has gone over your head and is 40 m away in the opposition forward line.

Cameron was playing a long way up the ground instead of out of the goal square.  This dragged the Melbourne defenders further forward, but while they didn’t follow blindly, it just left Cameron free-wheeling in the middle of the ground, with his long kicking capability.

Melbourne goes away licking its wounds from this game.  However, the problems they faced in this game will not be replicated on grounds where finals are played.  There is also the lesson questioning the role allocated to certain players, when the environment has changed, and the opposition utilise different tactics.

But the Cats have exposed themselves now.  This plan works in one location only.  Their ageing legs are not producing as they once were.  Hawkins 1 goal for the game.  Selwood barely 60% time on ground.  15 minutes of attack without barely a score.  Just getting over the line against a side bereft of tall forwards.

When the next meeting comes the flowering hopes of the already cat-nipped Geelong supporters will be nipped in the bud!

MELBOURNE 3.1.19 5.4.34 7.6.48 9.9.63

GEELONG 3.3.21 5.8.38 8.12.60 12.19.91

GOALS 

MELBOURNE Petracca 3 Bedford Brown Fritsch Neal-Bullen Oliver Pickett

GEELONG Duncan C Guthrie Rohan 2 Atkins Close Hawkins Holmes Smith Stengle

BEST

MELBOURNE Viney Petracca Oliver Neal-Bullen Brayshaw Petty

GEELONG Atkins Henry C Guthrie Dangerfield Smith Duncan

INJURIES

MELBOURNE C Oliver (thumb)

GEELONG Nil

REPORTS

MELBOURNE Nil

GEELONG Nil

SUBSTITUTES

MELBOURNE J Hunt (unused)

GEELONG Q Narkle (unused)

UMPIRES Justin Power Simon Meredith Robert Findlay

CROWD 21,501 at GMHBA Stadium

ReportRd172022.png

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