Demons drop ball in final quarter

July 2, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 15 – Geelong v Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Max Gawn and Jake Lever tackle Mark Blicavs during round 15 AFL Geelong versus Melbourne 2023

Even though Geelong has been underperforming as reigning Premiers, the Cattery is still a daunting venue for visiting teams. Of their seven prior home games this season, they had only lost two. The first to Collingwood and the second, by only seven points, to GWS. Melbourne would need everything to go right on the night.

The Cats got their first when Tyson Stengle kicked a 45m shot from deep in the pocket. Melbourne’s response was immediate but unfortunately Joel Smith’s 15m snap hit the post.

Geelong then had a second, via a lucky break, when Tanner Bruhn kicked from outside 50 to the goal square. There the ball bounced across the line with Michael Hibberd in hot pursuit.

Following the goal, there was an incident involving Jeremy Cameron as the victim of friendly fire; having collided with Gary Rohan. The match was delayed for ten minutes while Geelong’s leading goal scorer was assessed and then stretchered off the field, playing no further part in the game. Fortunately subsequent tests have ruled out any serious injury.

Gary Rohan was obviously devasted, but my initial thought was that the forward would now play his heart out to make up for his unintended mistake.

The Dees got the first goal after the delay, when Bailey Fritsch marked and converted from 20m to the left of goal.

Then with three minutes to go in the quarter, Rohan marked and kicked from 40m, directly in front, to increase the Cat’s advantage to fifteen points.

To add to the Demons’ dilemma, the rain started falling. However a silver lining appeared when Joel Smith created something out of nothing with his around the corner snap 25m from goal.

Both sides were racking up the minor points in the second term, but it took until the halfway mark before Geelong got the first goal. Tom Hawkins marked a Gary Rohan kick 35m out and he rarely misses those opportunities.

Melbourne was now trailing the hosts by fourteen points in a low scoring half. The small group of Dees’ supporters, amid the sea of Cats, looked on forlornly. Having braved the cold and wet conditions to travel south for the night, they needed something special to raise their spirits.

Cue Joel Smith who took a mark on his chest right next to the goal square. Despite the rain, the ball connected perfectly with Smith’s boot, and sailed through for his second of the night.

After the goals, both sides again struggled to hit the target. Then Kysaiah Pickett collected the tapped down ball from a stoppage. He let the slippery sherrin fall from his grasp before booting it through the uprights. Now it was a one point game.

After that the goals dried up again with the Dees only able to muster another two points, giving them the smallest of leads at the half time break.

The Cats got the first of the second half when Rohan continued to make amends for his earlier indiscretion. He took a mark just outside 50, then ran on and kicked from 40m out.

Geelong went on the attack to try and drive home their advantage. However, they found that the Dees were more than a match for them in defence.

Melbourne had their own chances to score but were unable to convert.

Eventually Jacob van Rooyen was able to mark; brilliantly hanging on to the wet ball 20m out from goal. His set shot was calmly taken, and the Demons’ half time lead was restored.

With no sign of the rain clearing, Melbourne was having to innovate, with Alex Neal-Bullen knocking the ball forward with his fist, slamming it inside 50, towards goal. Kozzie gave chase, gathering the bouncing ball and kicking from 25m to claim his second of the night.

The Dees had dominated the third term but only increased their lead by a single goal. On paper they were favourites to win, considering their fourth quarter performances in 2023.

However, the combination of the weather and Geelong’s home advantage, meant Melbourne could leave nothing to chance.

It was a rocky start the visitors when Ollie Henry took a contested mark, 40m in front. His conversion was on target, evening the score.

Zac Guthrie then gave Geelong the lead when his running kick from 40m sailed through.

Melbourne managed to keep the Cats on a tight rein for the next ten minutes before a spate of goals put the hosts firmly in the driver’s seat.

First, Mark Blicavs gave his side a two goal advantage with his mark taken inside 50, his set shot floating through.

Then the villain turned hero, Gary Rohan, chased down the ball as it bounced across the 50m arc, before collecting and kicking it from the edge of the square.

Finally, Mitch Duncan was able to chip from 50m and watch the ball bounce through the unguarded goal.

Trailing by four goals with only ten minutes on the clock, it was a desperate Melbourne who now had to throw caution and everything else to the wind.

When Tanner Bruhn snapped his second from the top of the goal square, he handed the Demons the virtually impossible task of kicking five goals in the last seven minutes.

Christian Petracca snatched one back with his pitch perfect snap from deep in the pocket.

Tracs was also involved in Melbourne’s final goal when his kick to deep inside 50 was marked by Bailey Fritsch on the edge of the square.

It was too late for the Dees however as Geelong hung on to claim victory.

The Giants are next on the agenda, and we’ll be taking no chances against a side who’ve shown flashes of brilliance this year. Alice Springs is a good ground for us though, and everyone will be hoping for a repeat of Kozzie’s double hat trick from last year.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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