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Cats hold off Dogs

Luke Holmesby  May 22, 2009 10:20 PM

johnson-hero-spot-m.jpg

Brad Johnson laments his late miss against Geelong

GEELONG has held off a persistent Western Bulldogs side to win by two points in one of the best games of 2009.

Brad Johnson’s set shot from near the boundary line missed after the siren, keeping Geelong’s undefeated start to 2009 intact with a ninth straight win, 17.14 (116) to 17.12 (114).

The Cats led for most of the night and by as much as 37 points during the third quarter but the inspired Bulldogs clawed to within three points with a couple of minutes remaining.

A late Travis Varcoe snap looked to have sealed the win for Geelong in the first match of Indigenous Round but Liam Picken responded two minutes later and the Dogs pushed forward once more when Johnson took the grab on the boundary line.

He initially played on off his mark when time appeared to have run out but the siren failed to blow and he was brought back to his position.

The Bulldog skipper’s attempted banana kick did not bend back far enough and the Cats were let off the hook.

Steve Johnson finished with five goals for the Cats, Mathew Stokes kicked four and Gary Ablett produced a brilliant first half to finish with 38 touches in his return from an adductor strain.

Jason Akermanis was exceptional in his 300th game with four goals and 25 possessions, while Johnson booted four goals in a strong performance up forward.

While the Cats’ forward line was without the suspended Cameron Mooney, shorter goal kicking options such as Steve Johnson, Paul Chapman and Joel Selwood stepped up in the first term.

Selwood and the returning Gary Ablett starred in the first term, gathering 13 disposals each. They were both solid for the rest of the match but it was this burst out of the blocks that did it for the Cats.

Matthew Boyd started to get the better of Ablett in the second half but the Geelong star still finished with 38 disposals to Boyd’s 28.

Selwood did as he always does and gave a solid honest effort, with 32 possessions and a goal to boot, while Corey Enright provided plenty of run and penetration on the wings and flanks.

Up the other end, the Bulldogs’ Johnson made life tough for Harry Taylor and proved too clever and nippy for the Geelong defender.

Andrew Mackie was shifted on to the Bulldogs skipper early in the third term and put the brakes on him to an extent.

Ryan Griffen only had 18 possessions but was dangerous every time he went near it, his pace and canniness didn’t look too dissimilar to Ablett at stages.

Geelong kept the Dogs at bay in the second term with two goals to Stokes and one to Ryan Gamble late in the quarter.

Gamble looked set for another scoring chance when he got under a high ball at the 24-minute mark in the second term. He got thrown off balance in the marking contest with Dale Morris and landed heavily.

He was taken from the ground on a stretcher and was seen speaking with his teammates on the bench before going by ambulance to Epworth Hospital.

The Cats kicked the first four goals of the second half but the Bulldogs hit back to be within four goals at three-quarter time.

The Bulldogs had two bursts that gave the Cats a glimpse of the late scare that was to follow.

The first came in the second term when they booted five goals in a row, and the second came in the third, when Akermanis stepped up to the plate in his milestone game to boot two important goals before the final change.

It was largely goal for goal in the last quarter and the Bulldogs did not let up. Johnson looked set to deliver the fairytale for Akermanis’ milestone but sadly for the Bulldogs, it was not to be.

Geelong  6.4  9.10  14.12  17.14 (116)
Western Bulldogs  3.2  8.3  11.8  17.12 (114)

GOALS
Geelong:
S. Johnson 5, Stokes 4, Chapman 3, Selwood, Gamble, Rooke, Bartel, Varcoe
Western Bulldogs:
Akermanis 4, B. Johnson 4, Giansiracusa 2, Griffen 2, Cooney, Hill, Minson, Eagleton, Picken
 
BEST
Geelong:
S. Johnson, Ablett, Chapman, Selwood, Enright, Stokes
Western Bulldogs:
Akermanis, Boyd, B. Johnson, Griffen, Lake, Cross

INJURIES
Geelong:
Gamble (concussion), Chapman (finger)
Western Bulldogs:
Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: James, Chamberlain, Ryan
Official crowd: 44,620 at Docklands

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The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.