1. Breaking records left, right and centre
Geelong broke several records during its 133-point dismantling of Fremantle at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday afternoon. To quarter-time, Fremantle had slotted three goals to the Cats’ one, but from there, the Dockers hit a proverbial wall and failed to kick another. Remarkably, Geelong booted the final 23 goals of the game to Fremantle's five behinds, breaking the previous AFL record of 16 unanswered goals most recently held by Sydney (round 23, 2016 vs Richmond). The victory boosts Geelong's percentage by eight and firms its finals chances, while the triple-figure margin is the heaviest defeat in Fremantle's history. It is also the largest loss in Ross Lyon's coaching career.
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2. Bad things come in threes
With Geelong playing to keep its finals chances alive, it was clear from the outset that nerves had got the better of several players. The opening term was littered with errors from both sides, while the quarter was best highlighted during the eighth minute by three successive turnovers. In howling wind and heavy rain, Patrick Dangerfield gathered on the left forward 50m, but the Cats superstar shanked his attempted squaring kick out-on-the-full. Veteran Docker Michael Johnson retrieved the free, but his clearing kick down the line also sprayed out of bounds. When Gary Ablett collected for the following possession, one would have presumed it was in safe hands. But in almost identical fashion, the dual Brownlow medallist blasted his effort inside 50 for the third consecutive out-on-the-full.
3. Cats' second-quarter blitz
To quarter-time, Fremantle had outplayed Geelong and led by nine points. But it was downhill from there for the Dockers. After a stern word from coach Chris Scott at the first change, the Cats fired home 10 unanswered second-quarter goals while keeping their opponents scoreless. Midfield duo Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale had rampant opening terms, but their influence was subsequently nullified and enabled the Cats’ midfield to stamp their ascendency. It took the Dockers 18 minutes into the second quarter to register their first inside 50 of the term. By then, the Cats had already kicked six goals and blown the margin out to 27 points. But they weren’t finished. Tom Hawkins kicked three of the next four goals, while Ablett (17 touches to half-time) and Tim Kelly (14 and two goals) shone to extend their half-time lead to an unassailable 52 points.
4. Dockers desperate for depth
Nathan Fyfe and Lachie Neale are both stellar midfielders and despite the 133-point annihilation, their respective performances saw the Dockers dawdle off GMHBA Stadium with some dignity. Fyfe (37 disposals and seven clearances) and Neale (26 and nine) were the standouts, but it becomes difficult to make a case for Fremantle’s next best after it failed to register a solitary goal after quarter-time as the club was handed its biggest-ever defeat. Neale will be in All Australian contention, and although it was Fyfe’s first game since round 15, he showed no signs of rust or fatigue. Veteran David Mundy (22 disposals and one goal) was OK, but support was slim as Bradley Hill (16 disposals), Adam Cerra (14), Stefan Giro (13) and Bailey Banfield (11) failed to have any influence on the game.
5. Another milestone for The Little Master
Saturday afternoon’s clash against Fremantle presented Gary Ablett with the opportunity to become just the third player in VFL/AFL history to gather 8000 disposals and kick 400 goals, alongside Tiger Hall of Famer Kevin Bartlett and North Melbourne champion Brent Harvey. Ablett needed just one goal to reach the milestone and had two golden opportunities to notch the milestone in his barnstorming first quarter, where he amassed 12 disposals and four inside 50s. But Ablett kicked two behinds to the obvious displeasure of the Cattery crowd. With eight minutes remaining in the final quarter, Geelong's lead stood at 125 points, while there was little life left in Fremantle. As the ball fell in the lap of the champ, Ablett took three steps to his right and snapped truly from 40m. The Little Master was one of the Cats' best, finishing with 26 touches, nine inside 50s and one goal.