Final Quarter Gets Cats Into Prelim
Geelong has produced a memorable and equally spirited last quarter comeback to overcome the Box Hill Hawks, keeping their finals campaign alive at Casey Fields last Sunday as Kane Hunkin reports.
The Cats booked a spot in the preliminary final, with a late five-goal burst kicking against the wind to simultaneously end Box Hill’s season with a 14 point win.
In typical September conditions, Geelong failed to capitalise early and it was the Hawks, buoyed by an elimination final win against Sandringham, that gained the ascendency and scoreboard momentum in the second quarter. Six goals to two was decisive, breaking the game open before half-time.
The Cats looked sluggish on the back of a hard-fought game against Port Melbourne in the first week of the finals, with Box Hill playmakers Xavier Murphy and Kyle Cheney prominent through their respective influence.
With scores level, two goals late in the third term, including an impressive snap from Chance Bateman gave the Hawks the advantage. And, when Matthew Jones goaled early in the last quarter, the margin was 18 points and the result heavily in the Hawks favour.
However, in a style consistent with recent performances, Geelong finished strongly. Shane Kersten’s fifth goal levelled the scores and a Cam Eardley set-shot major gave the Cats an eight-point lead. George Horlin-Smith’s goal on the siren provided the icing on the cake for Geelong setting up a clash against fellow top-four outfit Werribee.
Box Hill were brave – indicative of their determined end to the 2012 Peter Jackson VFL season. Murphy, Cheney and Thomas Schneider were among the best.
After the game, Geelong coach Matthew Knights was enthused by his side’s effort, particularly complimentary of the last quarter.
“We are really proud of the team. It’s the second week in a row we put ourselves in a precarious position at three quarter time. To kick four goals in the last 10 minutes was first class by our team.,” Knights said.
Shane Kersten’s five goals saw the first-year player as the game’s most damaging forward. Knights addressed Kersten’s influence.
“I’m pleased for Shane. The first final last week at Port [against] a great Port defence, he found it difficult. It’s a great sign when a young player is in his first year [and] can bounce back and have a performance like that today,” he said.
Additionally, the coach was also at pains to highlight the performance of Shannon Byrnes in his best on ground display.
“He used his speed to get through gaps and to break the lines, but he also used his speed to tackle and to chase. And, he was very dynamic.”
Geelong now face Werribee in a preliminary final at North Port Oval this Sunday. The two sides first and only meeting this year was back in round five, with the Tigers 35 point winners.
“My vivid memory of Werribee is a night game some 12 weeks ago, where they got off to a flying start. We pegged them back, then they ran away a bit at the end. They are full of class; they have a lot of talented players. They earned their spot for a reason and it’s going to be a great game.
“I think our best is good enough, I really do. I’m confident that we can play really well next week against Werribee and take it right up to them.”
Geelong 11.10.76 def Box Hill Hawks 9.8.62
Photo: Arj Giese