Cats and Hawks in another close one
A determined last quarter has seen Geelong overcome inaccuracy and injury to keep their unblemished start to the 2013 VFL season intact, as Kane Hunkin reports.
In a game that largely mirrored last year’s engaging semi-final, the Cats turned a three quarter time deficit into a five-point win against the Hawks.
While Geelong took the ascendency early over the visitors – kicking three of the first four goals – Box Hill, coming off a last start win against Essendon, realigned the close contest, with scores even at quarter time.
Geelong’s height was severely tested against a Box Hill key position structure, which included Luke Lowden, Jonathon Ceglar and Sam Grimley. It was left to Port Fairy’s Sandy Robinson in Andrew Banjanin’s (suspension) absence, coupled with pre-existing injuries to primary listed Cats players, to fill the void.
The second quarter belonged to the Hawks as former Cat Jonathon Simpkin (two goals, 21 possessions) started to impose through the midfield. However, the main concern for Geelong was off the scoreboard. While entering the umpire’s book after a marking contest was far from ideal, Daniel Menzel, in his second game back, clutched his left knee after attempting to change direction deep in the forward pocket. Menzel would walk off tentatively as the half-time siren sounded.
Box Hill looked threatening in the third term, holding a handy lead, but a late Daniel Measures goal ensured the home team remained stubborn.
When Jackson Thurlow goaled at the 26-minute mark of the last quarter the Cats looked to have secured win number three. However, an opportunistic Brian Lake goal following Matt Sully’s failed attempt to run the ball over the point line kept the game alive. Geelong though would hold on for a five-point win.
In the rooms, despite the win, the main discussion centred on Menzel.
“He’ll go for scans this week just to see what damage is there,” Geelong coach Matthew Knights said after the game.
Knights additionally touched on the impact an injury as such has on a playing group.
“It is hard for the players to an extent because they are so close to Menz – not only [as] great teammates, but good friends.”
With the likes of Nathan Vardy, Dawson Simpson, Josh Walker and Ryan Bathie out, Geelong relied not only on Robinson, but at times Jackson Hollmer, standing at 186cm, in the ruck.
“The big man stocks will get replenished at some stage, but today was probably as thin as we have been. So in saying that, it was probably a good victory considering the lack of talls and structure we had,” Knights said.
Another interesting trend was the continued close margins between the two teams, with the Geelong/Hawthorn rivalry not exclusive to just AFL level.
“There is such a huge rivalry. Last year’s final in the VFL [was a] very tight game. Two great sides going at it again today. It is a bit eerie how close these games are – both VFL and AFL. It is great to be apart of such a rivalry.”
Geelong now travels to Frankston this Sunday for the first time since 2007 to take on a Dolphins side coming off consecutive wins. While, Box Hill return home to take on Coburg on Saturday.
Geelong 12.17.89 def Box Hill Hawks 12.12.84
Photo: Jenny Owens