AFL season 2020, round 18: Geelong claw past Sydney – as it happened


So there’s your top four for 2020, and it features Geelong, just, after they dug themselves out of a massive hole against the plucky Swans. The Cats were lethargic in the opening half and it took until late in the third quarter to eradicate the skill errors.

Maybe it was the four changes to the 22? Rohan and Steven both looked short of a gallop, while Selwood took his time to grow into the contest. Maybe it was the impact of Richmond towelling them up the week before? Either way, it gives Chris Scott food for thought about his best 22 heading into the finals. Maybe one of those less heralded youngsters will get a run as a defensive small forward after all?

Dangerfield stood up when someone in hoops needed to be counted, but Menegola was excellent yet again, while Blicavs excelled in the second half and performed a vital smother with the last act of the contest. Better will be needed against Brisbane or Port Adelaide if Geelong are to improve on their poor recent record in finals.

Sydney did enough to win and but for some awful decision making in front of goal probably would have. Papley’s 2.5 is the standout, but that hides an open goal miss from him and a couple of other unfathomable errors from the men in red with goals begging.

The engine room of Lloyd Kennedy and Parker was outstanding, denying Geelong the clearance dominance they are so accustomed to. Sinclair bossed the ruck, ably supported by Aliir who roamed with presence and was the first half’s key performer.

Now it’s over to Fremantle v Western Bulldogs to see who completes the finals picture, then Port Adelaide’s clash with Collingwood tomorrow night to settle the destination of the minor premiership.

Thanks again for your company, we’ll be back to do more of this soon I’m sure.

That was a seriously enjoyable game of footy – shame we couldn’t finish our season with a win, but very proud of the young cygnets out there today. Gave the cats a real fright in that game, and even almost snatched a draw at the end.

Plenty to like from the Swans today. On another day Papley kicks 5.2, not 2.5, and they romp home with clear air at three-quarter-time.

And exhale. That was wild. Geelong were awful for the first two quarters, below-par in the third, but then Dangerfield found an extra gear as full forward and his quality ripped the game open either side of three-quarter time. The final term looked to be a breeze but then the nerves set in late on and the brave Swans could have forced a tie with the last kick of the contest.

Gee whizz. That was close. Sydney won the final clearance, sent the ball downfield, a pack formed, and the ball fell to a red guersney, Rowbottom, who snaps firmly towards goal – but Blicavs is there with the smother. Wow! That was an enormous intervention.

Q4: 20 secs remaining: Sydney 9.9 (63) v 10.9 (69) Geelong – Scrap that – Sydney score! McInerney with the finish from the Hail Mary play down the corridor. Oh boy.

Q4: 1 mins remaining: Sydney 8.9 (57) v 10.9 (69) Geelong – Finally, with one minute remaining, the Cats have it sewn up. A soft, fatigue-induced turnover in defence, pounced on by Dangerfield, and he calmly finds Duncan, who feeds Miers, who eats up the clock preparing to shoot – only to miss everything from 30m!

Q4: 2 mins remaining: Sydney 8.9 (57) v 10.9 (69) Geelong – West Coast fans cannot criticise the Swans for not giving their all. They continue to push as hard as possible, forcing Geelong to defend at full stretch and pressurising the Cats’ halfbacks as they look to ease down the clock.

Q4: 4 mins remaining: Sydney 8.9 (57) v 10.9 (69) Geelong – It is getting ragged and desperate out there with both sides guilty of skill errors and poor decision making. The broken field play suits the Swans who have eaten up the metres by foot all afternoon. On this occasion they can’t hit a target though and Geelong can wind down the clock.

Q4: 6 mins remaining: Sydney 8.9 (57) v 10.9 (69) Geelong – the umpiring this game has been wild with some barmy calls going against both sides. Geelong are on the receiving end of another odd decision, penalised for claiming a mark and collecting the Sydney defender in the head with his knee. For his incredible lead-up play, laying a huge tackle and then delivering the perfect assist, Dangerfield deserved the highlight.

Q4: 7 mins remaining: Sydney 8.9 (57) v 10.8 (68) Geelong – Sydney aren’t giving up, and after chopping off a promising Geelong entry inside 50 they lash down the other end through the corridor swiftly enough to allow Papley to escape over the back and kick his second.

Q4: 9 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 10.8 (68) Geelong – Brilliant in midfield from Ablett, bursting forward, and his long entry is tailor made for Dangerfield, but the Cat is denied his fourth goal in a row in a tough marking contest. The whistle blows for a free-kick his way, but Parfitt plays on and toe-pokes a goal, with the help of the video umpire after the original effort was ruled a rushed behind.

Q4: 10 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 9.8 (62) Geelong – The Swans look a little leggy now. A promising situation on the left wing evaporates under pressure from Miers, and kicks that were nailing targets earlier in the day are squirting off the sides of boots. Those behinds from Papley and others when Sydney were on top will frustrate John Longmire.

Q4: 12 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 9.8 (62) Geelong – The Cats have the run now and suddenly the skills are sharper, the movement is slicker, and the outcome is a mobile forward line full of leading targets. Yet again Dangerfield is the man honoured, and yet again he goals – three in a row for the Brownlow Medalist – and he has dragged this game back in his side’s favour. As well as Dangerfield, Menegola has been instrumental in this recovery, as has Blicavs who has arrested Sinclair’s ruck dominance.

Q4: 13 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 8.8 (56) Geelong – Slick ball movement from the Cats and it should end with a mark and a goal but Rohan fumbles despite finding separation at the top of the square. He makes amend soon afterwards though, getting on his bike to hunt the ball and deliver superbly for the lead of Dangerfield. With his second shot on goal for the quarter, he scores! The Cats finally hit the front.

Q4: 15 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 7.8 (50) Geelong – A TV graphic reveals how imposing Geelong have been in final quarters this season, and by contrast, how poor Sydney have been. And it’s the Cats who start the brighter, Menegola in the action for multiple phases before Ablett crumbs smartly in the right forward pocket, feeding Dangerfield to mark. But the former Crow can’t slot the acute set shot and the Swans continue to lead, as they have since the opening minute.

Oh the joy of the last round. Players playing for careers, playing for limited spots in finals, thinking about holidays next week and the cool refreshing water as you plunge in off the scorching sand. Love the first round and the last round. Always good for 1/9 footy tipping

You’d still back Geelong in from here, but they have been second best for most of this match so far. The move to put Dangerfield in the goalsquare during that third quarter worked, but the Cats still need to exert more pressure around the ground to stop the Swans waltzing out of defence, and find more composure to deliver inside-50 – just three marks in the arc for Geelong so far.

Two points in it at the final break. Sydney just look like they’re tiring a little after three quarters of sustained pressure footy. Geelong are starting to capitalise around the ground but skill errors are costing them dearly, especially at the moment when they need to load up and deliver inside-50.

Q3: 2 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 7.6 (48) Geelong – 106 games, zero goals for Jake Kolodjashnij, but he was inches away from putting his side ahead from long range. As it is Geelong creep closer to the Swans without impressing.

Q3: 5 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 7.5 (47) Geelong – The Cats almost score from a rare centre clearance win but Hawkins can’t crumb Dangerfield’s huge leap. the Swans then go coast-to-coast with ease. That has been Geelong’s major issue today, the lack of sustained forward pressure. Sydney can’t convert though, and after a tough deliberate out-of-bounds call Geelong travel at speed up the other end, and that speed equals space in the forward line, which is meat and drink for Dangerfield who marks on the lead then goes back to kick a huge set shot from 50m. Boy his team needed that.

Q3: 7 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 6.4 (40) Geelong – Geelong are rattled. Dangerfield doesn’t take the game on from 50m, then Menegola misses his target forward with time and space. But they do benefit from a rare free-kick in attacking territory. Who is awarded to? Hawkins, and he doesn’t miss drop punts from 30m out. The Cats remain in touch, just.

Q3: 8 mins remaining: Sydney 7.9 (51) v 5.4 (34) Geelong – Yet again Sydney rebound away from some soft Geelong forward pressure, this time it’s swift enough for Reid to get separation and make the lead, which is honoured. He marks and hammers a handsome set shot through for a goal.

Q3: 9 mins remaining: Sydney 6.9 (44) v 5.4 (34) Geelong – Papley gets his fifth – behind of the afternoon – after some more unfathomable sloppy play from Geelong. Some Cats look like they’re playing in quicksand. Sydney handballed their way out of lax forward pressure, then profited from a soft Henry turnover in midfield. Papley should have done better on the run.

Q3: 10 mins remaining: Sydney 6.8 (44) v 5.4 (34) Geelong – The Cats get a much needed goal. It wasn’t pretty – Taylor hoofing a long bomb to the top of the square, only for the ball to come off hands and spill over the back, where Rohan unselfishly handballs to Tuohy to slam home.

Q3: 12 mins remaining: Sydney 6.8 (44) v 4.4 (28) Geelong – When Sydney do clear their lines they look adept at picking their way forward. Hayward should do better spilling an unopposed mark just inside 50, but it doesn’t matter for long. The Cats are in all sorts down back, so uncharacteristic today, and a sloppy misplaced kiss across halfback ends with the simplest turnover, smart hands from Aliir and Papley, allowing McInerney time and space to snap home. This is worrying for Cats fans.

Q3: 13 mins remaining: Sydney 5.8 (38) v 4.4 (28) Geelong – The Cats are knocking on the door, building wave after wave of pressure, but so far there’s been no killer final pass and the Swans remain in front.

Q3: 14 mins remaining: Sydney 5.8 (38) v 4.4 (28) Geelong – Better pressure from the Cats this half already with the defensive set-up denying Sydney any opportunity to clear their lines. The Swans do well to hold fort long enough though, then win the crucial contest on the boundary near the 50m line. Selwood is then cleaned up in a marking contest by the flying Reid. Oooof, that made me sore just watching from the couch.

Q3: 15 mins remaining: Sydney 5.8 (38) v 4.4 (28) Geelong – The Cats get the first entry inside-50 following a high tackle on Selwood. From there they win the stoppage for Ablett to run onto but the veteran snaps wide.

A visual representation of the opening half. The Swans with all the menace but unable to really get a hold of the inattentive Cats.

The way the Cats are (not) playing reminds me of the time Ross Lyon arrogantly rested half the Freo team in the last game of the season……

I don’t think of this Geelong group as an arrogant bunch, but suddenly the decision to make four changes – three including older blokes short of a gallop – looks a little optimistic. I also think the opening half exposed the Cats’ obvious area of weakness, the lack of a dominant ruckman. If Rhys Stanley wasn’t a lock to return for the finals, he surely must be now.

The stats sheet remains very ugly for the Cats. The Swans are dominating disposals, clearances, and inside-50s. Geelong have just two marks inside-50 all half – maybe Richmond’s performance last week has unpicked the Cats’ forward structure for the rest of the competition? Dangerfield has just five touches, Steven four, and Rohan two. So much for that celebrated list of inclusions.

For the Swans, Lloyd leads allcomers with 17 disposals, Sinclair has dominated in the ruck, Aliir has been the game’s key target, and in Papley Sydney have the most significant performer of the afternoon. The goalsneak has done pretty much what he’s wanted, crumbing neatly and darting away from attacking stoppages, but from his eight kicks he’s registered 1.4 – flip that around and his side could be out of sight.

Well, that was unexpected. Sydney bossed that from go to woah and if not for some woeful finishing would deservedly be four or five goals up. As it is, Geelong, despite one of their most abject halves of footy for a long long time, are just 11 points down. Plenty for Chris Scott to mull over at the break.

Q2: 1 mins remaining: Sydney 5.8 (38) v 4.3 (27) Geelong – Blicavs is off after taking a knee to his ribs in a marking contest. That’ll sting. The Cats ditch the long kick down the line in favour of little chips around halfback, but they’re chopped off in traffic twice in quick succession. Eventually Ablett takes command and sends Geelong forward, where Hawkins fails to hold onto the kind of contested mark he’s been gobbling up all year.

Q2: 2 mins remaining: Sydney 5.7 (37) v 4.3 (27) Geelong – The Cats are losing every aerial contest on centre-wing, meaning they’re unable to make more than one kick forward or maintain territorial dominance. The Swans should punish them again but Reid takes his eyes off a mark that should have led to a makable shot.

Q2: 4 mins remaining: Sydney 5.7 (37) v 4.3 (27) Geelong – Bronx cheers around Metricon Stadium for a free-kick to Dangerfield. The ball ends in the hands of Hawkins on the lead but he makes a mess of the set shot around his body from the left forward pocket.

Q2: 6 mins remaining: Sydney 5.7 (37) v 4.2 (26) Geelong – After the shootout of the opening quarter it’s all become a lot cagier this term. Papley should find the target after a rare break down the open side of the ground, the left, but he snaps wide, his fourth behind of the day already.

Q2: 7 mins remaining: Sydney 5.6 (36) v 4.2 (26) Geelong – It should be pointed out the Cats have been on the receiving end of a few stinky umpiring decisions, two very dodgy deliberate out of bounds, and a couple of unpaid marks in particular, but that is not enough to explain why they are so stodgy around the ground.

Q2: 8 mins remaining: Sydney 5.6 (36) v 4.2 (26) Geelong – Another stoppage, another Sydney win, another shot from Papley waltzing away from traffic, this time snapping fractionally wide. Geelong have no oomph whatsoever.

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Geelong Football Club, Sydney Swans, Australian Football League, Gary Ablett Jr., Mark Blicavs, Patrick Dangerfield

Actu monde – AU – AFL season 2020, round 18: Geelong claw past Sydney – as it happened

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