Cats fend off Blues to make NAB final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats fend off Blues to make NAB final

08/03/2009 12:18:53 AM Comments (0)

Geelong will play Collingwood in the AFL pre-season final after the Cats shrugged off a stubborn Carlton for a 17-point semi-final win on Saturday night.

In a scrappy match at Etihad Stadium (formerly Telstra Dome), the Cats were made to work hard by the understrength Blues before emerging with a 2.9.12 (84) to 0.9.13 (67) victory.

Geelong now play Collingwood at the same venue in the NAB Cup final on Friday night.

Collingwood beat Essendon in the other semi-final to book their place in the pre-season decider.

Geelong looked set to break their semi-final open early in the third quarter as they raced out to a 29-point lead with three of the terms first four goals.

But a young Carlton side, without several stars including Chris Judd and Brendan Fevola, stuck with last year's grand finalists throughout.

The Blues kicked the last three goals of the quarter to reduce the deficit to 11 points by the final change.

It took two Paul Chapman goals early in the fourth term - one a nine point super goal - to give the Cats breathing space.

Carlton then killed their own chances off with wasteful fourth quarter finishing, missing four good chances at goal late in the term.

Chapman starred in the final term and along with Cameron Ling and defender Harry Taylor were their side's best.

Young Carlton player Shaun Grigg impressed for the Blues in the absence of several key midfielders.

Blues rookie Aaron Joseph also performed well in a run-with role on Geelong star Gary Ablett, blunting his usual efficiency.

Geelong coach Mark Thompson was not impressed with his side's performance, but admitted Carlton's decision to withdraw many of their big guns perhaps contributed to his own team's lack of intensity.

The Blues deliberately rested many key players for the match, saying it was part of the club's pre-season strategy for those players to miss the third week of practice matches.

"It was one of our worst games for a while but it was probably pretty hard to get motivated for it from a player's point of view, from a coach's point of view too," Thompson said of his Geelong side.

"We would have liked to have played against Judd and Fevola, a stronger team really. But I respect Carlton's decision - I'm not being critical of them at all."

Carlton coach Brett Ratten said he was thrilled with the efforts of many of the youngsters blooded in the match, but admitted his side's waywardness in front of goal late had perhaps cost them victory.

"A lot of our young men got some real confidence and real belief in their own ability," Ratten said.

"They played really well. It's a shame. You miss shots towards the end and it hurts. We had our window of opportunity to hit the scoreboard, and we missed it."

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