No place like home for the Cats… but Harris Andrews should have ‘done a Grimes’

I think about most of you – particularly anybody who barracks for Brisbane – desires me to speak about that second late within the recreation.

Loosen up. I’ll. However first, let’s unpack the primary three quarters and 18 and a half minutes of what was a compelling tactical battle between two of the competitors’s premier groups.

This match was every part a recreation between premiership contenders needs to be: elite midfielders shrugging off tags to dominate, massive forwards clunking pack marks and kicking bulk targets, and a few scintillating transition play from either side. In the long run, the Cats completed 10 factors to the nice – notably all behinds – as a result of their finest was only a smidgeon higher than that of the Lions, on a floor in GMHBA Stadium they’ve all the time tailor-made their recreation plan round.

All through the primary 4 rounds of 2022, Geelong have seemed to maneuver the ball sooner, and thru the hall if doable, than at any level throughout their close-but-no-cigar campaigns of 2020 and 2021.

Their recreation continues to be primarily based on elite kicking, claiming 89 uncontested marks out of 104 for the evening, however transferring ahead, ever ahead is the secret on the Cats this yr.

It’s price noting, then, who’s taking these uncontested marks. With ten apiece, Mitch Duncan (who had six by quarter time) and Isaac Smith had been two of the Cats’ three finest, the pair closely concerned in a lot of their ahead thrusts. Working arduous into house, however hardly ever as sideways choices, they had been the proper hyperlinks for the Cats to swarm the hall, with their pinpoint ball use – Smith went at a laserlike 89 per cent effectivity from his 29 touches – permitting a harmful ahead line house to maneuver.

Moved to the backline with Tom Stewart a last-minute withdrawal, Mitch Duncan performed the quarterback position to perfection. Dubbed the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ by Nick Riewoldt on Fox Footy for his versatility, the Cat was simply as influential as Smith within the opening half, regularly kick-starting Geelong scoring chains from their defensive half. Clamping down on him after the break, guaranteeing straightforward uncontested marks had been few and much between, was a giant consider Brisbane maintaining the rating as shut as they did.

Tom Hawkins was the principle beneficiary of the Cats’ speedy ball motion: few defenders within the recreation are each going to be a match for the veteran ahead in a one-on-one contest.

His energy, whether or not used legally or illegally, was finally an excessive amount of for Marcus Adams after a titanic wrestle, with the Lion’s knowledgeable studying of the play and velocity off the mark nullified when pressured to jostle with the Tomahawk.

Chris Scott has copped loads of criticism through the years for the Cats’ finals failures, along with his lack of ability to adapt to the strain improve of September soccer notably scrutinised. However to this point in 2022, he has proven an ingenuity and risk-taking aspect not seen from him since his early years in cost, if in any respect.

Whether or not it was Rhys Stanley rucking at centre bounces then sprinting into assault, permitting the nimbler Mark Blicavs to take a lot of the around-the-ground tapwork, or Jeremy Cameron’s on-ball stints within the first time period, to a triple-team effort between Jed Bews, Zach Tuohy and Jake Kolodjashnij to curb Charlie Cameron within the absence of Stewart, most of Scott’s ploys got here up trumps. Had they not, the legion of Cats followers packing GMHBA Stadium would have left disenchanted.

Simply as essential as Duncan and Smith, although, was the stadium itself. There’s no place like dwelling for Geelong, with the famously slender floor having swallowed up many a crew in years passed by. The Cats know the bottom just like the again of their hand, defend it beautifully, and guard the hall just like the keys to the dominion. It meant the Lions, contemporary off butchering North Melbourne, may muster solely 42 inside 50s to 60.

Geelong have averaged 39.3 factors per recreation in scores generated from their attacking 50; that was caught at 9 at half time for the Lions. Pressuring the ball service, utilizing the bottom’s width (or lack of) to their benefit and guaranteeing the game-breaking Zac Bailey was a complete non-factor, the Cats confirmed they realized loads from being carved up in Spherical 2 by a slick Sydney.

To their immense credit score, the Lions did what good groups do after they’re being outplayed – stayed within the hunt by way of ruthless effectivity. After half time particularly, the Cats’ defensive 50 was recurrently clogged up as Brisbane midfielders – and even their forwards – labored additional time to stop the type of fast transitions that reduce deep within the first half.

Because of this, targets began to stream from the Lions’ personal quick breaks, Brandon Starcevich’s uncommon purpose with an unguarded 50 forward of him to provide them the lead an ideal instance.

In that third time period alone, the Lions had been smashed 20-6 within the inside-50 depend, but booted 4 straight targets to 2.2. A lesser crew would have been useless and buried with that type of discrepancy, however this Brisbane crew is made from sterner stuff.

It helps, too, when you’ve got marking forwards firing. With three targets apiece, Joe Daniher and Daniel McStay capitalised on the Cats’ Stewart-less defence, with McStay’s work fee from the wing to the goalsquare particularly excellent.

Lachie Neale was additionally a pressure on the stoppages, just too good to be nullified by a Mark O’Connor tag as he had been within the corresponding fixture final yr. 30 disposals is ho-hum by the Brownlow Medallist’s very good requirements, however 21 contested possessions and 11 clearances – each game-highs – are nearly not possible for even one of the best tagger to cease. Terribly, just one participant – Jarrod Berry – had even half of Neale’s contested possession tally on both aspect.

In distinction, Patrick Dangerfield was but once more pissed off by some shut checking, this time from Lion Jarrod Berry. Already with Zach Merrett as a scalp, the Cats’ celebrity managed solely 4 clearances for the evening, and started to indicate the consequences of the eye.

Dropped marks and fumbles had been widespread as Dangerfield, maybe attempting too arduous to flee Berry’s clutches, rushed himself in his makes an attempt to make a distinction; although he greater than doubled his metres-gained within the last time period alone, ending with 216 complete after being on 92 at three-quarter time, to rise to the event when his crew wanted him most.

And now, as promised, let’s take a look at that non-free kick to Harris Andrews deep into the ultimate quarter.

Was it a free kick? Yep. Was it pricey? Properly, I’d argue Cam Rayner kicking it out on the complete on the different finish from ten metres out was costlier, and as Chris Fagan admitted after the match, the higher aspect received.

However you possibly can’t argue it handed Hawkins a purpose, which within the context of a 10-point win by no means seems good for the umpire.

So why wasn’t it paid? I’ve two causes: one, the dearth of the well-known ‘noise of affirmation’ from the group – if that’s on the Gabba, does the ump give in to 30,000 followers screaming ‘in the back!’? It’d actually be tougher to disregard.

The second, although, is in Andrews’ fingers alone, and would have drawn the ire of followers simply as a lot because the non-free kick is now – and I’m greater than keen to utterly cop it for this take.

Andrews ought to have dived.

What do you assume Dylan Grimes, or Alex Rance, or any variety of key forwards, would have carried out in the identical scenario? Flailed ahead, perhaps gone to floor, turning the fingers within the again into one thing so apparent even a blindsided umpire can do little however pay the free.

I want the sport didn’t have to come back to this, but when it’s a selection between incomes the ‘stager’ tag for all times, having your dignity shredded and – worst of all – being Capturing Starsed by Ethan Meldrum, or your aspect profitable the sport, then perhaps Andrews will get away the mayo subsequent time round.

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