Geelong play a beautiful game, when it works. The pretty, training-drill movement of the ball from end to end – kick, mark and possession – is an attractive way to play. But they have often struggled against the high-intensity teams in September.
Geelong have not often enough been prepared to sacrifice their preferred game for the one the situation demands. Sometimes you just have to claim territory and not worry about possession.
When you lose your best intercept marking player in Tom Stewart how the ball emerges from your back line changes. He is not replaceable so the game needs to be flexible.
The Cats should beat GWS but they need more from Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola. Gary Rohan needs to do something defensively as a forward if he is not doing anything offensively. Gryan Miers needs to hit his targets.
With Toby Greene’s reports there is always an argument that he is punished for things others escape sanction for.
This report is not that. This case has nothing to do with the fact it involves Toby Greene. The only person in the incident whose identity matters is Matt Stevic. He is an umpire.
Any player, be it Toby Greene, Tom Green or Brad Green would be charged if they walked through the umpire.
Greene was frustrated and argued with Stevic at the break. It’s hard to argue accidental contact when you initiate the argument, walk at the umpire, do not deviate and bump him.
Greene’s teammate, Josh Kelly, was walking behind Greene at the time with his head down when he looked up and saw Stevic in his path. He stepped around him. Why? Because that is what you do.
When Lachie Neale was fined earlier in the year for umpire contact it was for grabbing the umpire to point out the blood that was pouring from his head. This was more than that, he chose to walk through the umpire for no apparent reason.
Lost in the shadows of the Greene discussion is that the Giants’ actual captain, Stephen Coniglio, as opposed to their spiritual leader, Greene, remains a selection problem. It was his first full game back from injury but he had just 11 touches at 45 per cent efficiency.
This was a tough and, err, dogged win. The Bulldogs were a better team than Essendon all year and a better team in Tasmania on Sunday.
They undoubtedly had the better of the marginal umpiring calls but they were also the significantly better team. Four goals from free kicks for Cody Weightman was surprising on a wet, cold, greasy day. Three of his free kicks were reasonable; the fourth one, though, remains a complete mystery.
That is a distraction. The Dogs had the better of the 50-50 contests and a functioning forward line that knew how to find a goal where Essendon did not.
They were cleaner, more experienced and sharper around the ball. They had the best players on the ground: Tom Liberatore was outstanding, Aaron Naughton found ways to influence the game on a day not suited to tall forwards, Bailey Dale was tremendous off half-back and Jack Macrae was classy.
But do not let the oft-cited number of years since the Bombers last won a final distract from the fact this was an Essendon team that few figured was capable of making the eight at the start of the year. In a new coach’s first full season they have blooded young talent, developed a cohesive game plan and been better than 10 other teams. That is not to be lightly dismissed even with a goalless second half in a final.
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter.