A gutsy Geelong has stormed home after a 25 point deficit during the fourth quarter to defeat North Melbourne in a Sunday afternoon thriller at Etihad stadium.
The Cats trailed all day until George Horlin Smith became the hero when he converted a set shot after a high tackle to give Geelong a one point lead, leading to a frantic final minute of play eventually leading to the Cats holding on and improving their season to 2-0.
North Melbourne jumped out to a 32-point lead during the 3rd quarter, but consecutive goals saw Geelong tie the game with a brilliant running goal from speedster Darcy Lang.
The loss leaves the Kangaroo’s winless so far for the season.
Not surprisingly, it was Brownlow medallist Paddy Dangerfield (37 disposals, 1 goal) and champion captain Joel Selwood (26 disposals, 9 tackles) that lead the comeback for the Cats in the last quarter, both having a huge impact.
Mitch Duncan (24 disposals, 1 goal) was prolific and Zach Tuohy and Andrew Mackie were terrific in defence for Geelong. Tom Hawkins and Daniel Menzel also bagged four goals each, with Menzel being a great option forward all day for the Cats.
Speaking post game, Menzel praised Horlin-Smith for his play and hard work to get back into the Geelong side despite not playing many games in 2016.
“He’s worked so hard, he’s played a lot of VFL footy and a lot of good VFL footy, he crashed in and deserved the free kick” he said.
Menzel also spoke about his troublesome knee and hopes for 2017.
“The body feels pretty good, feels better than it did last year, for me it’s probably being more consistent this season,” Menzel said.
Geelong coach Chris Scott was disappointed with many aspects of the first three quarters.
“We were beaten badly around the ball, we thought, and we were out pressured as well for most of the game” he said.
However Scott praised his senior players for standing up when their backs were against the wall.
“Our best players are our leaders, and they do have a lot of faith in what they can deliver as individuals, but I think the confidence in the rest of our team is growing” he said.
North Melbourne jumped out of the gates fast with a blistering first quarter, kicking 5 of the first six goals to have a 25 point lead at quarter time.
Geelong hit back in the second quarter with brilliant goals from Menzel and Duncan, while a late hit from North Melbourne ruckman Braydon Preuss on Jackson Thurlow gifted the Cats a goal to be within 6 points at halftime.
“Our best players are our leaders, and they do have a lot of faith in what they can deliver as individuals, but i think the confidence in the rest of our team is growing”
Shaun Higgins (27 disposals, 2 goals) Robbie Tarrant (28 disposals) and Sam Gibson (27 disposals, 1 goal) were the best for the Kangaroos, but like the rest of the team, faded when it mattered most as Geelong regained control in the last quarter.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said post game that despite the heartbreaking result, there was positives to come out of the game.
“It’s always really difficult and so it should be for the players and coaching staff who put a lot of effort in today and we didn’t get the ultimate result, but looking forward there was a lot to like out of today” he said.
Scott was also pleased with the younger players in his outfit.
“There was a lot to like, I thought the way our young guys stood up to a really good opposition was really pleasing” he said.
Geelong hosts Melbourne at Etihad stadium next week, with the daunting task of Max Gawn likely to cause headaches in the Geelong camp, with North Melbourne host the red hot GWS Giants after their 100+ thumping of the Gold Coast Suns at Blundstone arena.