Cats hold on for AFL win over ‘Dogs
Geelong held off the Western Bulldogs in a pulsating last quarter to win their AFL match by 20 points on Friday night.
Cats utility Steve Johnson starred with 36 possessions as they kicked five goals to three in the final term to win 14.11 (95) to 11.9 (75) at Etihad Stadium.
The Bulldogs again impressed, but were left ruing several bad misses in front of goal.
After his nightmare game a week ago, Cats defender Josh Hunt redeemed himself with two outstanding defensive efforts in the last term when his side only led by three points.
Steven Motlop and Tom Hawkins kicked three goals for the Cats, while Bulldogs forwards Daniel Giansiracusa and Shaun Higgins also kicked three apiece.
It was a vital win for the reigning premiers, who had lost their previous two games.
Geelong have not lost three in a row since 2006, also the last time they finished out of the finals.
The match had striking similarities to the Bulldogs’ 21-point loss to Collingwood in round six.
They were gallant in the two games against better-credentialled opponents, but paid for errors at crucial moments.
On Friday night it was inaccuracy in front of goal that cruelled the Bulldogs.
They never led during the match, but reduced the margin to a point early in the second half and then three points during the final quarter.
Bulldogs key forward Jordan Roughead missed two shots on goal at the start of the last term.
With the game in the balance, Hunt starred when he took a crucial mark running with the flight of the ball.
He made another strong defensive effort moments later and Geelong then worked the ball forward.
Steven Motlop finished off the passage of play with a crucial goal and several Cats ran over to congratulate Hunt.
The Bulldogs worked like terriers at the stoppages and once again this season, Geelong lost out on contested possessions – 148-130.
But every time the Cats were challenged, they kicked a couple of goals to regain the advantage.
While the Bulldogs were brave, they also appeared to tire in the last term.
They were coming off a win in the Darwin heat and only a six-day break.
Captain Matthew Boyd had 34 possessions in the midfield for the ‘Dogs and fellow onballer Ryan Griffen continued his strong form despite a solid tag from Taylor Hunt.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said the Cats were still not playing well, but praised their resilience and added he was noticing some improvement.
“I didn’t think we played great footy for most of the night, but we were good enough in the end,” he said.
“Our resolve to make sure that when they came really hard at us in the last quarter … was impressive.
“It’s not terrific footy, but it’s gutsy footy.”
He was pleased for Hunt, whose courage was questioned after a marking contest during the loss to Collingwood a week ago.
“It was a good contest, wasn’t it – he went back really hard,” Scott said of Hunt’s vital mark in the last term.
“Josh had played pretty well for us this year and we’re always focussed on the future.
“This was the sort of performance we were looking for from him.”
Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney said there was some encouragement for his team, but noted they had plenty still to learn.
In particular, he said the ‘Dogs still had to improve in the defensive side of the game and restricting the opposition’s ability to control the ball.
He was also philosophical about their inaccuracy at crucial times against Geelong.
“If we keep doing things right around the ball and we defend well, the goals will take care of themselves,” he said.
“Tonight is probably a case in point – it was very close to that happening.”© AAP 2013
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