Cats maul 'Pies in NAB Cup Grand Final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats maul 'Pies in NAB Cup Grand Final

By Roger Vaughan 14/03/2009 12:25:10 AM Comments (0)

Geelong again emphasised their status as an AFL superpower, belting Collingwood by 76 points in the NAB Cup final.

A serious-looking knee injury to defender Josh Hunt was the only setback for the Cats on Friday night at Docklands as they won their second pre-season competition in four years, 0.18.19 (127) to 1.6.6 (51).

Geelong midfielder Joel Selwood was best afield with 33 disposals and two goals.

The Cats insisted all summer it was business as usual after last September's grand final loss to Hawthorn.

On Friday night, as the two clubs fielded close to their best sides, the Cats underlined the point as they clinically took the Magpies apart.

Selwood and fellow midfielder Gary Ablett were outstanding for the Cats, who kicked 6.5 to one behind in the decisive second term.

Scores were level at quarter-time, but the Cats had the game won at the main break with a 40-point advantage.

Tempering Geelong's success was the injury to Hunt, who went to ground in the first term after colliding with Collingwood forward Paul Medhurst as they ran for the ball.

Seconds after hitting the turf, Hunt signalled to the Geelong bench and he was stretchered straight to the changerooms.

Selwood ran riot through the midfield early in the second term as the Cats took control.

Ablett had more touches for the game than Selwood - 35 to 33 - but Selwood's decisive second term when the game was in the balance meant he was best afield.

After kicking the first goal of the game, Geelong trailed by seven points when Brad Ottens gave away a silly 50m penalty and Chris Bryan kicked a supergoal.

Scores were level when Tom Hawkins missed an easy set shot at goal after the quarter-time siren.

But Geelong then hit top gear as Collingwood repeatedly turned the ball over and Selwood dominated through the middle.

At half time, Selwood had seven clearances - four more than anyone else on the ground.

After looking competitive early, Collingwood simply fell apart and their ball use at times was deplorable.

Collingwood, who have openly declared they are aiming for the premiership this year, found out they have a lot of hard work to become genuine title contenders.

The Cats have been in the last two regular-season grand finals and remain arguably the competition's best team.

They last won the pre-season premiership in 2006, while Collingwood have not won any title since their famous drought-breaking 1990 flag.

Selwood won the Michael Tuck Medal as best afield in a game that attracted a crowd of 37,277.

As the Cats accepted the cup, coach Mark Thompson announced the club would donate $50,000 to the Victorian bushfires appeal.

Thompson later confirmed that the Cats fear Hunt, who turns 27 on Saturday, has damaged his anterior cruciate ligament.

If the ligament is ruptured, he will need a season-ending reconstruction.

"That's the risk you take, it wouldn't have mattered if we were playing in this game or another game," Thompson said.

"It looks like he's done his knee, at this early stage, without knowing all the scans and having 100 per cent proof.

"It looks like ... he's done his anterior cruciate ligament, he's upset."

Given captain Tom Harley is also sidelined with a knee injury, the Cats will have to recast their defence for the round-one grand final rematch against the Hawks.

Collingwood ruckman Chris Bryan could also come under video scrutiny next week for his bump on Selwood in the middle of the ground at the start of the second term.

Overall, Thompson was rapt with his team's performance and admitted they had been very keen to make a point.

"We made our intent known pretty early in the week that we didn't want to get to another grand final and lose it," he said.

"So we put a fair bit of work into the training and the tactical side of it, the players sent a pretty good, strong message too - that they were here to play.

"It was fantastic watching the game of footy, even (as) a non-player, it was excellent football."

Thompson added the whole team, not just Selwood and Ablett, were "pretty awesome" during the decisive second term.

Collingwood assistant coach Brad Scott, who was in charge of the team for the grand final, said frequent turnovers had destroyed their chances.

"When you give the ball back to them, they're going to punish you better than anyone," he said.

"I think we gave them 23 scores from our direct turnovers, so when that happens, I don't care who you're playing, you're not going to win the game - that's the story of the night."

Scott also pointed out Collingwood had hurt their previous opponents in that category during the pre-season.

He added the club had been "absolutely thrilled" with the pre-season, apart from the grand final.

"We're still extremely happy with it, we think we're very well-placed physically going into round one," he said.

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