Geelong superstar Gary Ablett silenced the Richmond home crowd with a brilliant performance in the Cats’ big win at the MCG.
Geelong superstar Gary Ablett was met with loud boos from sections of the Richmond faithful early in Friday night’s MCG clash, but the two-time Brownlow Medal winner had the last laugh.
Ablett starred with 24 possessions and two goals in the 16.8 (104) to 5.7 (37) win in front of 65,214 fans.
The 35-year-old was roundly booed as the Tigers leapt out to an 11-point quarter-time lead, but the cheers of Geelong fans soon drowned out the jeers of the dwindling number of Tigers supporters as the Cats booted 11 goals in a row to set up the win.
“It’s not a concern to me and, much more importantly, it’s not a concern to Gary,” coach Chris Scott said, trying his best to diffuse the situation.
“… If you looked at the hierarchy of the difficulties of being an AFL footballer, being booed by opposition supporters is towards the bottom, I can tell you. It just doesn’t worry them at all.
“I don’t think it hurts him and there’s a possibility it could be positive.
“I don’t want to overplay it because I honestly don’t think it’s an issue.”
The unpleasantness occurred on the same day the AFL issued an unreserved apology for failing Sydney star Adam Goodes during the booing saga that hounded him out of the game.
Scott was at pains to point out that the two situations were very different, with the Goodes scenario “a stain on our football history”.
Ablett was pivotal as Geelong overcame a slow start to smash the Tigers and consolidate their hold on top spot.
Patrick Dangerfield’s class stood out, the Brownlow Medal winner finishing with 38 possessions and a goal, with Mitch Duncan (34) and Tim Kelly (32) also in the thick of the action.
Tom Hawkins was the leading goal kicker on the ground with four, with Gryan Miers also impressive with three.
Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin (23 touches), Dustin Martin (26 and a goal) and Dion Prestia (30) were among the Tigers’ best players.
Richmond were without David Astbury and Brandon Ellis for the clash, the key duo joining the likes of Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance and Toby Nankervis on a lengthy injury list.
“Sides go through injury ups and downs all the time,” coach Damien Hardwick said.
“We’re in a trough at the moment but we expected to play better than what we did, especially with the fundamentals of the game that we can control.
“That’s most disappointing thing but they’re areas that we can fix.”
Geelong were two games clear of second-placed GWS heading into round 12 and improved to 11-1 with the result, while Richmond slipped to a 7-5 record.