Cats win thriller by four points

IF the Cats truly have nine lives, then they have spent two in the first two rounds of the AFL season, coming from more than five goals behind to win for the second week in a row.

Josh Caddy celebrates at the final siren. Photo: Herald-Sun

Jimmy Bartel kicked a goal with just 30 seconds left to play to hand the Cats a 16.16 (112) to  17.6 (108) victory at a controversially rain-soaked Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

North Melbourne had dominated possession in the first half, scoring at almost every entry inside 50m and when Leigh Adams goaled late in the second quarter, the Roos’ lead was 41 points.

But, as they did last week against Hawthorn,  the Cats started winning the football, forcing turnovers and running in waves to sweep past the Roos in the second half. James Kelly got the ball rolling in the third quarter by winning more contested ball and he had useful allies in Paul Chapman and Allen Christensen. Unlikely substitute Mathew Stokes (16 touches) gave the Cats a real spark when he came on early in the third quarter for tall defender Mitch Brown.

The Cats kicked 3.8 in the last quarter in a tense last quarter which ended with Bartel was gifted the winning goal in the final 30 seconds when a free-kick was paid against North defender Nathan Grima for a push in the back, as well as a 50-metre penalty when the ball was kicked away immediately afterwards by Daniel Firrito.

North playing superb football in the first half, piling on pressure everywhere the Cats turned.

But in the third quarter the Cats stormed back into the match, botting the opening four goals of the third term to reduce the margin to 10 points, before the Kangaroos again pushed the lead out to 27 points. With Stokes and skipper Joel Selwood prominent, the Cats once more cut the deficit to nine points with three successive goals to Chapman, Tom Hawkins and an important major to Mitch Duncan right on the three-quarter-time siren.

As the rain poured in as the Etihad Stadium roof remained open, again North counter-punched, with Lindsay Thomas booting his fifth goal early in the fourth quarter.

Then the Cats launched a final – and ultimately successful assault – though their wayward kicking nearly cost them dearly as they booted eight behinds in the final term.

Geelong grabbed the lead for the first time late in the match with a Josh Caddy goal, before North won a critical 50-metre penalty against Duncan. That gave Daniel Wells the opportunity to put his side back in the lead, which he did. But after two missed Geelong set shots, eventually Bartel stepped up to give his side the victory.

Allen Christensen and Hawkins finished with three goals each for the Cats.

Thomas finished with five goals for North, with Drew Petrie booting four.

Kangaroos coach Brad Scott stormed up to the ground manager after the game, upset that the roof of the stadium had not been closed. Brad Scott said it was “laughable” and “embarrassing” to have a game in a stadium with a roof end in rain. “It’s funny, it is laughable. I’ve asked the question before because we’ve had rain at Etihad before. I just do not understand why we don’t close the roof,” Brad Scott said.

Geelong have won their opening two matches, while the Kangaroos are 0-2 despite being competitive in both games.

– With AAP

QUARTER BY QUARTER

1/4 time Cats v Roos
Cats 4. 0 (24)
Roos 7.1 (43)
Precision kicking has allowed the Kangaroos to open a 19-point lead at quarter time.  The Roos made the most of their forward thrusts, with accurate kicking slicing through the midfield and opening the Cats’ defence.  The Roos were also winning the stoppages and dominated possession 101-58. Hawkins kicked two late goals, including one after the siren.  

1/2 time Cats v Roos
Cats 6.4 (40)
Roos 12.3 (75)
Cats increase intensity around the stoppages but Roos increase the lead, kicking the first three goals of the quarter with Drew Petrie taking his personal tally to four. The Roos’ open forward line and efficient use of the footy remained the difference, the Kangas scoring on almost every entry inside 50m. Allen Christensen kicked the Cats’ two majors for the quarter.

3/4 Time Cats v Roos
Cats 13.8 (86)
Roos 15.5 (95)
The Cats start winning the footy and forcing turnovers, slamming on the first four goals of the quarter in the process to bring the margin back to 10 points. James Kelly, Allen Christensen  and Paul Chapman lead the charge and Mathew Stokes stars after the substitute was activated early. Roos steady with two goals to Lindsay Thomas and one to Robbie Tarrant.

Full-time Cats v Roos
Cats 16.16 (112)
Roos 17.6 (108)
The Cats pepper inside 50m to edge into the lead but three consecutive behinds to Steven Motlop are an unfortunate return. Josh Caddy puts the Cats in front but, with rain pelting down at Etihad which hadn’t closed the roof, the Roos grab the lead back when Daniel Wells capitalises on a 50m penalty against Mitch Duncan. Jimmy Bartel kicks the winner with 30 seconds to play.

DETAILS

GEELONG                                               4.0     6.4  13.8  16.16 (112)
NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS  7.1  12.3  15.5   17.6 (108)

Goals: Geelong: A Christensen 3 T Hawkins 3 P Chapman 2 S Motlop  2 J Bartel J Caddy J Podsiadly J Selwood M Duncan T Lonergan. North Melbourne Kangaroos: L Thomas 5 D Petrie 4 R Tarrant 2 A Mullett D Wells L Adams L Anthony R Bastinac S Atley.

Best: Geelong: P Chapman J Selwood A Christensen J Corey J Kelly S Motlop, M Stokes.

North Melbourne Kangaroos: A Swallow R Bastinac T Goldstein J Ziebell A Mullett L Thomas.
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Robert Findlay, Mathew Nicholls.
Venue: Etihad Stadium.

Source: Geelong Advertiser.