That’s all we have for you tonight on this live blog after the Cats 61-point win over Hawthorn.
If you want to read more about tonight’s game then Peter Ryan’s match report is now online.
Thanks so much for following along, it’s a pleasure to bring these blogs to everyone during this return to the football field.
Please check back in tomorrow for our bumper Saturday footy blog and more stories and analysis from tonight’s game.
Thanks again and have a lovely evening.
Channel Seven hasn’t shown the Alastair Clarkson presser for some reason.
But Hawthorn have tweeted some of his answers.
On Patrick Dangerfield and where he rates: If he is not the best I’ve seen. Whoever is ahead of him is pretty good. I’m biased, and there is always – I think we even see with the Hall of Fame, you prioritise the people you have seen most recently. There is recency bias there. He can do things that no-one else can. I said during the week that he transformed our club, and I couldn’t think of a bigger compliment than that, because it feels like every year I’ve been here, right from the start, from the end of 2010, you know, you guys have – you have been good, but the fall is coming. And we were well and truly there, I think when we missed the finals, whenever it was, 2014, Pat came in and changed us. He didn’t do it by himself, but he and Selwood and Hawkins and Taylor, they have got a competitive will that I haven’t seen in many players, and I’ve played with some pretty good ones. So, yeah, he is up there.
On the impact of shorter games (he’s a fan): We thought about it and we ran through different scenarios, and, you know, how it could look and how we might need to adjust. We are not sure whether it is good for us or not. One thing I will say is people that want the game to be harder for the players have no idea how hard the players work and have no idea how hard the game is today. You can’t possibly be thinking, “Can we make this game harder and more relentless?” I tend to think that if we could make it a little easier for the players to recover week to week and perform at their best for longer periods of time, the game would be better. I don’t quite follow the logic of “let’s make this so hard that the best players are less than their best week after week”. So, I’m just finding it hard to believe that shortening the game is going to hurt it. I can only think of reasons why it would help it.
On his half time chat: We thought we played well. We got beaten in contests in the back half in the first quarter and a few lapses of judgment in the second quarter let them in. Statistically we thought the game was going okay and subjectively the feel was OK, we just gave away a few soft goals, and went away a little bit from the way we wanted to play in the contest. It is obviously harder for them not having played here for a long time, and Jaegar O’Meara not being available probably made them a little bit thin in their midfield. And so that was probably – in terms of the key messages – we thought if we were to get an advantage, it would be with a big spread through there, and those guys to a man – I thought they were pretty even, I thought, the midfield group, but they got control in the third quarter.
On the conditions and high scoring (he also comments on last night’s game): We always do. We prioritise defence and good teams do. If I use that as an example after a 12-week stoppage in play, and a slippery night against two really good teams who defend really well at least I would prefer to see a little bit more footy before I rush to judgment. I mean, I watched the game last night. I thought it was okay. I thought it was a tight tussle, and I thought Collingwood were really sharp early. So, in terms of where the game is at, I think we might need to see a few more games before we commit the game to an early grave. But, yeah, in terms of our scoring, we need to score. You can’t compete with the best teams unless you have got a capacity to score. If we go back to the prelim final against Richmond last year, we were in a really good position at half time and couldn’t press home the advantage. That’s been something we have spoken about through the preseason, but, if you become a team that prioritises scoring over everything else, you become inconsistent. The balance there is really important for us.
On Parfitt’s improvement: He laboured towards the end of last season with a little bit of a back issue, with I held him up this preseason. He didn’t get to the line round 1. He is certainly a winner from the COVID-19 lockdown. We have been bullish on Parfitt for a long time. He just hasn’t had a clear run at it to show the world how good he is. He looked after himself really well through the break. He was clearly – even in our training, we could see he is clearly in the best team, which made selection hard for us. We knew when he was in, we weren’t sure who would have to make way for him. Even six months, I was pretty confident he was going to be a good player. You talk about players that benefited from the lockdown.
On Gary Ablett Jr: I think it is logical to say that the lockdown has helped those guys. If we could prescribe one thing for our older players at the end of every season is an extra three months to rest and rejuvenate. But the risk is those guys don’t have the risk is those guys don’t have the same hunger. I can throw Harry Taylor into the same category. You sort of wonder – when the lockdown started, some of those guys were thinking, “Have I played my last game?” It would be pretty easy to be demoralised. It was hard because we couldn’t monitor them closely through that period. Within the first week of getting them back, it was clear that those guys had approached the individual training well and their hunger was as bright as ever. It is a real positive. It is one thing to say you have got to have the appetite and the hunger for it, but if your body is not allowing you to do it, it is difficult. The combination of the hunger still being there and the time to get themselves primed has helped those guys.
On Ablett’s role changing: I don’t think atoning for the season is the mind set he has got at the moment. It is certainly not the mind set I’ve got. I saw him up close every single week, labouring through a problem last year, and we thought he was highly effective for us. We started the season well last year. At the halfway mark we were in pretty good shape and his application to a new role, albeit trying to do it under duress, I thought was a credit to him. So, he got to the line round 1, but was way off where he would like to be. So, he is another one that benefited from the lockdown. Who knows where his role is going to evolve this year. He was a bit more inside tonight. For a long time – I feel like for almost all my time at Geelong, the questions have been how do you build some depth behind your best couple of midfielders. I thought tonight was as good an example as I’ve seen in my time of not relying on Selwood and Dangerfield. I thought the other mids were at least as good as those guys.
Patrick Dangerfield and the Channel Seven commentators had some laughs post game when the Geelong media banner blew over onto Danger both before the game and during his chat post game.
He said long time Cats media manager Kevin Diggerson usually holds it and he wasn’t allowed in the clean space. Diggerson was called in by Dangerfield to hold up the banner.
Dangerfield attempted to playfully tap Diggerson as he finished the interview but the wily manager dodged any contact.
All jokes aside, one does wonder if the AFL will review whether any protocols were broken during the interview.
It seems very tetchy but these rules and protocols are meant to be ironclad. It did seem harmless though.
Turns out the last time the Hawks played in Geelong he was a teenager, it was also his first win in a milestone game: I think I was 15 years of age. It is nice to finally cap off a milestone with a win. Every single one I’ve played in has been a loss.
On his match fitness after the long break: I’m getting used to the running patterns, I suppose, and it is odd with how quick the game goes. Even though the first quarter drifted into 28, 29 minutes, it is a lot shorter, so you have a lot less time back end of quarters to get yourself back into the game. It took some getting used to and it will talk a few weeks given every team has been out for eight to 10 weeks. That’s normally what we get at the start of the season.
On the tackle from Shaun Burgoyne (he thinks there is nothing in it): It is hard to see through someone’s shoulder. It is an instinctive game we play and we all try and play on the edge and that’s what I saw it as.
What about Quintin Narkle and Brandan Parfitt: We have seen great development from those two guys and Quinton is a hard player to tackle, as we see on the vision right now. Parf is such a smooth mover in traffic. They will be a pivotal players for the Geelong footy club for a long period of time. For us to grow and get better as a team they will be two players vital for us.
Is Brandan the fittest he has ever been: He has progressed every single year he has been in the system. He wants to get better and be one of the best players in the game. He has that determination. I think what we are going to see with the current climate is self driven players will be the ones that do really well and he is taking the right steps to take his game to another level.
The Hawks final tally of 7.5 (47) has some history.
Fun to watch how the Cats have sung their team song without linking arms.
Instead they sang the song spaced apart and clapping. Still plenty of joy but it seemed to lack a little man love and affection.
On returning to play: Coming in after the break we were a bit underdone. We had a few boys limping there so it has been nice having extra time. In saying that the facts are pretty tough. We have only trained three times together as a group of 40. The performance we put out tonight, we are happy with it.
On having experienced players to guide the team: I used it before the game. Whether it is true or not, we have played a lot of footy together. It was important we had that message coming up against a side we respect. Quintin Narkle, Brandan Parfitt, extra numbers through the midfield meant you had pace on the game. We were sloppy early letting them get a few easy goals but other than that, tonight was pretty solid.
Geelong have dominated when it mattered most ruling the second half to score a 61-point win over old rivals Hawthorn in Geelong tonight.
The Cats kicked 10 goals to one after half time in an impressive performance right off the back of the COVID-19 break.