Wow, what an opening round.
Some great games, a couple of surprising shellackings, and a whole lot of football that was, free-flowing and pleasing to the eye. And to round it all off, another stirring battle between the Cats and the Hawks.
In a high octane game, Geelong opened their 2016 account with an optimism-inspiring 30-point win in front of 74,218 fans at the MCG. But wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops as the Hawks kicked five unanswered goals in the third term to dredge up distressing memories from Round 22 in 2014. (Yes, the ten goals in a row match)
It looked as though our backline was over-populated with talls, with Corey Enright the only one suited to matching up on Hawthorn’s trio of small forwads; Rioli, Breust and Puopolo. Jed Bews or Tom Ruggles might have come in handy to provide some assistance.
A miss by Gregson and a poster from Mackie didn’t do a lot to allay my fears, it was only when Lachie Henderson floated down from defence and kicked an early last quarter goal that my heart restarted.
There were many positives to come out of the game for the Cats; the return of Lincoln McCarthy as a small forward and Joel Selwood who got through unscathed after an interrupted pre-season. There were important cameos from a range of players and Zac Smith’s extra height in the ruck will only improve our clearance numbers.
Oh…you may not have heard, apparently some chap called Dangerfield got a bit of it.
Which brings us to this week.
Sunday. Manuka Oval. Greater Western Sydney.
I don’t know why, but GWS always makes me think of 1950’s sitcom Leave it to Beaver
“Gee Wally, Shucks. “
Maybe it’s an age thing but I have always liked the Beaver. Sadly, these days it’s just so rare to see the Beaver. Foxtel might show it on one of those Classic TV channels, but apart from that, I think Beaver is probably a thing of the past.
But I digress.
Today’s game will once again bring us up against one of our much-loved former stars in the form of Steven Leigh Johnson. Stevie J, that crazy football genius, who could make your jaw drop one minute, and have you scratching your head in frustration the next.
Apart from his 253 games, three premierships and Norm Smith medal, Stevie will leave a lasting legacy at Geelong. And now, probably on the game itself too, with his around the corner shots at goal.
Commentators continually lament about how goal kicking is the one skill that hasn’t improved over the years and kept pace with other facets of the game. It’s fair to say that when Stevie started these around- the-corner shots, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Yes he missed a couple, but a whole lot more went through the bigger sticks.
The thinking behind it is pretty shrewd. Stevie realized that the drop punt, the ideal kick for moving the ball around the ground quickly, was not necessarily the best option when shooting for goal. The reasoning is that the drop punt is most accurate when the foot meets the ball in a position quite close to the ground. This makes the initial trajectory of the kick is very low: no good when there is an opponent five metres in front of you with his hands in the air. To clear the man on the mark, the foot has to meet the ball in an unnaturally high position making it more difficult to hit the sweet spot and increasing the chance of inaccuracy.
The kick around the body has a much loopier initial trajectory (like a lob in tennis) and easily clears the man on the mark. Also, with the angle that the ball is dropped, there is a larger margin of error and therefore, less risky.
All this shows the depth with which Stevie views the game, no doubt in time he will make an excellent coach. He will always hold a special place in our hearts, but for now, we must crush him.
Cats to win by some points.