What went right?
Not too much if we are going to be brutal. Some good young talent was found though, and will set them up for the upcoming years. Esava Ratugolea showed plenty throughout his time in the side, and Jack Henry looks as if he will be a superstar.
A different backline worked to an extent, with Mark Blicavs almost changing the way he goes about his footy to keep Ben Brown quiet against North Melbourne in one of his best games of the season. Tom Stewart also received All-Australian honours in just his second season; remarkable.
Whacky Wednesday celebrations? With the next best thing for the Cats seeming to be their post-season celebrations, suggests how poor they really were.
What went wrong?
They simply didn’t meet expectation. They made the finals due to two home games against two poor teams in the last two weeks, and snuck in to eighth spot. Convincingly beaten at the hands of the Dees in the first round of the finals, after a top four finish and a Preliminary Final berth in 2017, they didn’t look like the same side in 2018.
The acquisition of Gary Ablett. It has to be said, the story was great and he played some great games, but did it work? Clearly, it didn’t. Obviously there are other factors that led to Geelong’s poor season, but may we look back and see Gary Ablett take the spot of a young kid in a few years time?
Where has Geelong’s hard-nut nature gone? It seems to be non-existent, with their inability to play with the ferocity and pressure that seems to be so well received in modern day footy. Richmond won the flag in 2017 and Collingwood were so close to getting their hands on one through their manic pressure, something Geelong don’t have. I’m worried for them.
Tom Stewart. I could have went with his namesake in Hawkins, but Tom Stewart in his second season of AFL footy could not have been expected to do anything close to what he did. Earning a much deserved spot in the AA team, the boy who went at pick 40 is showing that he slipped way down the order. His one-on-one work is superb, and he knows how to hit a target. Future captain of the club?
Rd 18 – GMHBA Stadium
Geelong 16.4 (100) def Melbourne 14.14 (98)
In terms of magnitude and a sign that Geelong do indeed know how to win, their win against Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium has to be their greatest win of 2018. Melbourne were so good and so brave for the entirety of the game, leading by 23 points at 3QT. But eight goals to three in the last term saw Geelong scrape over the line, through a Zach Tuohy goal after the siren. This game had it all, including a seven goal game from Tom Hawkins in one of his best games ever. Melbourne got their revenge in September, but this game was one of the best of the season.
What do Geelong need?
As good as Rhys Stanley was come the end of the season, is he a ruckman that can currently lead Geelong to success? Probably not. A ruckman in the trade window may be the way to go. They also need an alter to their game plan, they needs to hold up in big games. It’s all and well to beat the teams down the bottom by 100 points with their clean footy and pure talent, but can they do it when it really matters? They also need to hold down Tim Kelly, bloke is a superstar.
From 2nd to 8th and a team that is not even close to the one we saw in 2017, Geelong were poor. After an opening month where we saw Tim Kelly star, and Gary Ablett play games that we’re so used to seeing, a top four finish was something that was realistic. Eighth spot however and a poor finals performance sees them in the middle of the pack. Will struggle to make finals next year.