Geelong started 2019 in blistering fashion, notching 11 wins from 12 games. Tim Kelly was doing everything, the little master was showing glimpses, Danger was doing danger things and Mark Blicavs was showing his prowess as a fullback. They dropped just one game, at home against an impressive GWS outfit.
After that run of form, Geelong then found themselves going 5-5 and then 1/2 in finals: W/L/W/L/W/L/W/L/W/L/W/L/W/L, managing to frustrate the proverbial out of their supporters, and show that they were indeed vulnerable, with losses against THe PORT/ the Power/ Teh PoWER/PORT/port (sorry ̶K̶o̶c̶h̶i̶e̶ David Koch) and the Dockers proving so.
In saying that, the Cats did manage to end up as minor premiers, before losing in the QF against the Pies, producing some great finals pressure to defeat the Eagles and then finally being beaten by the eventual premiers in a preliminary final, continuing the W/L/W thing.
What Went Right?
A fair bit. Geelong finished 2019 in 1st on the ladder. Statistically, they were also 1st in tackles, goal assists, least opponent points against, least opponent kick and handball per game. Basically their pressure was such that it limited the amount of ball that their opponents could get their hands on. They controlled play better than anyone else, but they also have the cattle to help…
- Cam Guthrie is a fairly underrated beast, and his link-up play was key in Geelong’s wins.
- Tim Kelly was freakishly good for a second-year player, and standing out amongst Ablett, Selwood and Danger is no easy feat. Star.
- Mark Blicavs performances as a full-back.
- The little Master, Gary Ablett Jr was handy indeed, chiming in for 34 goals in season 2019, Cats fans will be more than happy with this sort of output and will be hoping for something similar in 2020.
- Patrick Dangerfield was an absolute force to be reckoned with in season 2019, truly one of the game’s greats.
- Geelong also look to have recruited/drafted well, with new recruits Gryan Miers and Gary Rohan combining for 53 goals.
What Went Wrong?
Not much, early. The apparent lack of a decent big man was not a huge factor, with Stanley and the much improved Ratugolea filling holes as needed.
The yo-yo of wins and losses in the back half of the year seemed to be a cause for concern, was it fatigue? playing Blicavs out of position? the umpires? (shoosh, Chris), the lack of games at GMBHAJWSCR stadium? (Chris, please) the pointy end of the season was where the work they’d put in really needed to shine, but ultimately, and despite a fantastic win against the Eagles, they failed in their finals campaign twice, with their lowest score of the year coming in their qualifying final against the Pies, managing just 7 goals.
Geelong 13.10 (88) defeated West Coast Eagles 10.8 (68), Semi-final, MCG.
I could have also said that Geelong’s thrashing of the reigning premier to the tune of 10 goals was their best outing, but in the scheme of things, the semi seemed more pertinent.
They started in scorching fashion – Hawkins, Atkins and Kelly all scoring majors before Darling returned the favour, finishing the first quarter 25 points up and in a commanding position.
Over the next two quarters the Eagles fought tooth and nail to gain ground on the Cats, and by 3/4 time they had managed to claw their way back into the lead, holding sway by 4 points.
Geelong then dug in, and through the sheer brilliance of a few in Dangerfield, Kelly and Guthrie, they managed to pile on 4.1 to the Eagles 0.1. Running out 20 point victors.
Room For Improvement
Losing Kelly is a big a loss as any, but the Cats will be hoping the recruitment of Jack Steven can fill that hole to some degree, and with their list showing signs of aging – Selwood, Hawkins, Taylor, Ablett and even Danger, the Cats will be desperately looking to make sure they make best use of their rapidly closing premiership window.
They’ll also need to be very astute drafters in coming years if they are to provide themselves with a bevvy if young talent for later years when their stalwarts are gone.
1.”oh but he butchers it!”. 2. “oh, but he is a show-pony”. 3. “oh, but he’s a sook”.
- The bloke is going full-pelt most of the time, and a lot of the time he is running away from a stoppage that he has just cleared, under immense pressure, give me a spell.
- Well, yes and no – there are some theatrical elements to his play, but holy demon, don’t we want that? the fact that he backs such razzle dazzle up with sublime play is another off-setting factor
- Well, Chris Scott is his coach.
Dangerfield finished the year averaging 27 touches, was ranked 2nd it total inside 50’s, 2nd in total score involvements, and 5th in total centre clearances. He also booted 27 goals, finishing runner-up in the Brownlow.
This is a difficult one with the Cats having producing two contrasting seasons in 2019. Having all but wrapped up the minor premiership at the bye they looked every bit the flag favourites but post this point they were genuinely average. A preliminary final appearance would be a great result for most clubs but with the Cats in win-now mode it seems more like another missed opportunity.