Bruce Mcavaney called it best: “This is… Geelong revisited!”
Indeed it was. A look away handball here, a sell of the candy there, a goal to top it all off.
But there was something beneath this supposedly effortless football.
There was rage.
Like Christmas and Easter, it’s almost become an annual tradition to declare the ‘era’ of the Cats over, their brilliance and determination supposedly giving way to sloppiness and complacency. The only difference between this year and previous years is that such statements now had a degree of credibility, courtesy of a 1-3 start to the season, two of these losses coming at Simmonds Stadium. The fortress, like Geelong, appeared to be cracking at the seams.
Make no mistake, Geelong’s win over 2nd placed Collingwood tonight is not a validation of the Cats’ return to the dominance they once had. Their start to the season has been poor, their beltings at the hands of Hawthorn and Fremantle particularly alarming.
But the fire still burns ferociously at the Cattery.
They may have only won the contested possession count by 11 (143-132), but when it’s considered the Cats have the lowest contested possession average in the competition (128.5 following tonight’s performance), their effort against the Pies proved particularly powerful. Similarly, 38 clearances from a side averaging 32.7 (again the lowest in the competition) indicates a determination from those at the coalface to go harder for longer.
True, they were helped by a Collingwood outfit that didn’t bring the same ferocity it had to its previous matches, but Geelong refused to give anything other than its A-game, even after it realised early on that it may not have been required.
While not always relevant in footy, analysis of some individuals within the team is just as telling as the team’s performance as a whole. Mitch Duncan’s 38 disposals, Jackson Thurlow’s 30, and Josh Caddy’s 27 were statements of defiance, a refusal to believe that its midfield is a one trick pony, with Joel Selwood the only entity separating 4 points from 0.
The veterans were just as emphatic. Corey Enright’s 29 touches along with Stevie J’s 28 were akin to the snarl of old dogs at the thought of being put down.
A saying commonly referenced is ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’, and it’s a valid interpretation of the Cats’ season leading into Friday night’s match. But perhaps it was too short. Perhaps there may well be another sentence to be added. Especially when concerning the Cats’ response to the crumbling of their empire, maybe it should read:
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And the harder they fight to get back up“.