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Five things we learned from Geelong v Sydney

Highlights: Geelong v Sydney The Cats and Swans clash in the semi finals

1. A bridge too far for Sydney
The Swans have now won just two of their past 11 finals at the MCG since their 2005 premiership. All is forgiven because it includes the 2012 flag, but the numbers are not great for a team with such pride. Players such as Gary Rohan and Luke Parker have not performed in finals at the MCG and the focus will go on their record in big games at that venue. Rohan ended with just seven disposals and the Swans' big men, Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith, also failed to fire. A more reasonable assessment is that being the first team to make finals after losing the first six games was a mighty effort that would eventually hit a hurdle. That hurdle was a Geelong team focused on redemption.

Full match coverage and stats

 

2. Dangerfield forward was a match-winning move
The Cats' champion started forward and kicked Geelong’s first goal. By half-time he had four goals from eight shots that included one kick out of bounds on the full, and the game was won. Provoking memories of former Adelaide champion Darren Jarman's performance forward 20 years earlier in the 1997 finals series, Dangerfield turned Dane Rampe's night into Dane's Inferno. It was not only Dangerfield's presence forward that was significant but the team appeared more balanced with Sam Menegola back to his accumulating best, Joel Selwood hunting the ball at stoppages, Mark Blicavs quelling Josh Kennedy and Steve Motlop running the lines and creating space.

WATCH: Danger's dynamic first half

3. With Tom Lonergan ill, Lachie Henderson and Harry Taylor took over
When Lonergan withdrew late with food poisoning most Geelong supporters lost hope. However, it created a steely resolve inside the Cats' rooms as Harry Taylor took on Lance Franklin. Taylor worked in tandem with Lachie Henderson, who was coming off two consecutive poor finals. Henderson hit back hard with an outstanding performance in the first half, taking intercept marks and coming across as third man up. He took six marks before half-time and rebounded from the defensive 50 twice to cut off the Swans' forward thrusts and ensure Geelong could control the game's tempo. By the end of the game Henderson had 13 marks and Taylor, Andrew Mackie and Tom Stewart had ensured Lonergan's career continued. The daunting task of Adelaide's forwards awaits.

 

4. Steve Motlop remains a match winner
Few players bear the brunt of a poor performance more than Geelong midfielder Steven Motlop, yet few players also have the capacity to influence a game more than the Cats' free agent when he is on song. On Friday night he put in one of his best performances in the blue and white hoops, tackling hard and using the ball well as he made space for himself. One moment during the third quarter summed up his performance. He waited under a high kick with two opponents, Nick Smith and Gary Rohan alongside him. Rohan kept him at arms length as Smith gathered the ball and gave it to Rohan, who took off on a run. However, he didn't bet on Motlop staying in the contest and running him down. He kicked the ball deep to Dan Menzel who marked and goaled. It was a big moment.  

Every Cat rated from the second semi-final

 

5. Geelong stopped the Swans' marking power
Against Essendon in the first final Sydney took 26 contested marks, the biggest one-game tally for the season. However, the Cats nullified the aerial threat early, not allowing the Swans a contested mark in the first quarter while taking four marks of their own. At half-time it was nine contested marks to Geelong and just one to Sydney, and the Cats had six marks inside 50 to three. This gave Geelong territory and enabled it to put pressure on at ground level. The Swans had no answer when the ball hit the deck and they were exposed for a lack of pace.

Every Swan rated from the second semi-final

 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs