Cats pile it on after halftime - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats pile it on after halftime

By Adam Cooper 31/05/2008 11:32:47 PM Comments (0)

Geelong gained redemption of sorts through a second-half scoring blitz to earn a 56-point AFL win over Carlton at the Telstra Dome on Saturday night.

There were signs during the first half that the Cats were intent on making up for last weekend's humbling at the hands of Collingwood, but the reigning premiers failed to seize on their chances through a string of missed chances.

Although the behinds continued climbing through the night, Geelong's 12 goals in the second half gave them a comfortable 19.19 (133) to 12.5 (77) victory.

Gary Ablett starred in midfield, Steve Johnson was his slippery best with five goals, Mathew (Mathew) Stokes booted four and Tom Lonergan made a successful return to the highest level with two goals.

Cameron Mooney's withdrawal with a shoulder problem earned Lonergan his first match since he had a kidney removed, after he was crunched in a bump in a game late in 2006.

The forward typified his side's inaccuracy in the first half with three behinds, but he raised a fist in delight before he was mobbed by teammates after booting a goal from a free kick in the third quarter.

By the time he booted his second, Geelong had added 6.8 to one rushed behind in a third quarter played almost exclusively in the Cats' half of the ground.

A string of four goals in the last quarter, including a remarkable snap by Johnson, who can evade tackles and conjure goals like few others, had the Cats on track for a handy percentage boost.

But three late Carlton goals prevented Geelong's percentage overtaking that of Hawthorn, who lost on Saturday to the third-placed Western Bulldogs in Launceston.

Although the loss to the Magpies still stands out like a sore thumb on Geelong's form line and Saturday night's performance was far from their best, the win contained plenty of bursts of brilliant running football.

Ablett, Joel Corey and David Wojcinski set up countless forays through their dash and precise use of the ball and it was only the inaccuracy of the Cats forwards which prevented the game being over at the long break.

Shannon Byrnes also booted three goals for the Cats, while Brad Ottens made a welcome return after missing the first nine games with a foot problem, and he and Mark Blake dominated the tap outs.

Chris Judd was Carlton's best, and midfielders Kade Simpson and Adam Bentick handy, while Brendan Fevola booted three goals, although he was starved of opportunities in the second half.

Geelong were noticeably better at applying pressure on Carlton, through their tackling and intensity when not in possession.

Coach Mark Thompson admitted the Cats should have led by more than 13 at halftime but was pleased with the standard of the game.

"If we'd kicked better we would have had a bigger lead at halftime but overall we played much better than we have for a long time," he said.

"We played pretty reasonable footy for most of the night."

Thompson was clearly delighted for Lonergan, whom he described as a "great story".

"It was fantastic. He was probably nervous at the start but if he'd kicked straight he would have ended up with four, and he probably should have, four or five," he said.

"It's a huge step and you just know how well liked he is among the playing group and how well-respected and how courageous he is.

"He's a really likeable person around Geelong footy club and around the town.

"It's a great story and he'll certainly play again next week."

Mooney should also return to play North Melbourne on Friday night, while Thompson said it was "fantastic" that Ottens had returned and pulled up well.

During the week Carlton coach Brett Ratten was wary of facing Geelong on the rebound, and those fears were realised.

"They had around 80 tackles to our 46, so what Collingwood did to them last week they (the Cats) just did the flipside to us and they smashed us," he said.

"We over-possessed the ball at times, but they hunted us up and that's why they're a good team."

In a further blow, Carlton's revolving door backline lost another member when Paul Bower went off with a shoulder injury after he was crunched in a Johnson tackle.

Bower is likely to miss next week's game against Port Adelaide, but Jarrad Waite will return from suspension.

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