Geelong grinds it out as Freo slips from top four
GEELONG rebounded from its embarrassing loss to the Brisbane Lions and regained a spot in the top two by scoring a 41-point victory over Fremantle at Simonds Stadium on Saturday night.
The Cats were only 10 points up at the long break, but held the Dockers to just three goals in the second half while piling on 6.12, and ran out 11.19 (85) to 7.2 (44) winners.
Chris Scott's men had 35 inside-50s to seven after half-time, and the margin would have been far greater if not for their inaccuracy in front of goal.
Fremantle went into the game averaging only 66 points against this season, and Ross Lyon's men attempted to reduce the game to a defensive grind.
It worked initially, but Geelong took complete control in the third quarter, holding Freo scoreless and to just one inside-50.
However, the Cats finished the term with a 2.10 scoreline, which meant the door was still slightly ajar at the final change.
In the end, the wastefulness mattered little, as Geelong comfortably recorded its first win over the Dockers since round two, 2011.
The victory propelled Scott's team back above Essendon and into second place on the ladder.
Geelong set up its victory by dominating the contested possession count 185 to 125. The Cats, who went into the game ranked last for clearances, also won that stat 40 to 33.
Key defender Harry Taylor, who blanketed Dockers youngster Matt Taberner and took numerous intercept marks, was among the stars for the home side.
Midfielder Jimmy Bartel was an outstanding contributor, as were fellow onballers Allen Christensen and Mitch Duncan.
Taylor Hunt did an impressive tagging job on Freo dasher Stephen Hill, while Dawson Simpson and Mark Blicavs, who carried the rucking load in the absence of injured duo Trent West and Nathan Vardy, had the better of Zac Clarke.
Simpson even managed to boot the first goal of his AFL career during the final quarter, his galloping run towards the big sticks drawing a huge cheer from the blue and white faithful.
Big forward Tom Hawkins, who found himself constantly battling two or three Freo backmen but still managed to kick two majors, also played a key role in Geelong's triumph.
Once again without veteran stars Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle badly missed the hardness and ball-winning ability of injured midfielders David Mundy and Michael Barlow.
The Dockers were also hit hard by fresh injuries, with defender Paul Duffield subbed out of the game during the second quarter after straining his calf.
Michael Johnson appeared to badly injure his knee not long after Duffield went down, but he managed to return and play out the game.
Ryan Crowley, who was booed all night by the Geelong supporters (as was Hayden Ballantyne), restricted Cats skipper Joel Selwood to just 13 possessions.
Fremantle, who has slipped six points behind Geelong in the battle for the top two places on the ladder, will be confident of turning its fortunes around when it takes on Lyon's former club, St Kilda, at Patersons Stadium next Sunday.
Geelong will be aiming to win its 11th straight game against Hawthorn when it takes on the ladder leaders at the MCG next Saturday night.
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Motlop 2, Corey 2, Bartel, T.Hunt, Podsiadly, Murdoch, Simpson
Fremantle: Walters 3, Mzungu, Sheridan, Taberner, Mayne
Geelong: Taylor, Bartel. Christensen, Hunt, Mackie, Duncan
Fremantle: Crowley, Fyfe, D.Pearce, Mzungu
Geelong: Josh Hunt (ill)
Fremantle: Lee Spurr (ill) replaced in selected side by Viv Michie. Paul Duffield (calf)
Geelong: Jordan Murdoch replaced Josh Hunt in thethird quarter
Fremantle: Viv Michie replaced Paul Duffield in the second quarter
Umpires: Stewart, Nicholls, Meredith
Official crowd: 26,743 at Simonds Stadium
Sheridan set for second game
Second-year Fremantle midfielder Tom Sheridan will play his second game of AFL in Saturday night’s clash with Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
He replaced Michael Barlow, whos was not risked after hurting his jaw in last Sunday's match against North Melbourne.
Classy on-baller David Mundy, who was a late withdrawal from that match, was also not considered for the trip to Geelong because of a calf injury.
Sheridan, 19, was named in the 22 to face the Cats after a string of solid efforts at WAFL level for Peel Thunder.
Freo’s first selection from the 2011 draft made his debut in round 23 last season against Melbourne, where he came on as a sub.
General manager of football Chris Bond said Sheridan had deserved his selection.
“He’s not just coming in because players are out,” he said.
“His form has been very solid and he has really improved dramatically since the time he got here in the past year-and-half.
“We’re really excited for Tom and we’re looking forward to a big future.”
Bond said Barlow was very close to playing.
“He trained today, but we just thought with the six-day break it was better to give him another week of training,” he said.
“We’re pretty confident if he can get through training next week, we’ll see if he’s available for the St Kilda game.”
The football GM added that Mundy was also close, but that the club erred on the side of caution.
“We just can’t take a risk with the two quality on-ballers,” Bond said.
“He’s another one that needs a full week of training.
“We’re confident both players will be available next week.”
Fremantle will face Geelong at Simonds Stadium with a team that includes nine players who are yet to play an AFL game at the ground.
| Fremantle Team Round 14