AFL Cats stand tall - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL Cats stand tall

Greg Buckle 10/09/2011 01:29:45 PM Comments (0)

Geelong's tall forwards have sent a chilling warning to their premiership rivals with a stunning performance in the Cats' AFL qualifying final win over Hawthorn.

Despite the rain and windy conditions, the Cats annihilated the Hawks in the contested marks as big men James Podsiadly (three goals), Tom Hawkins (two goals) and Brad Ottens (two goals) dominated the aerial duels.

The Cats, premiers in 2007 and 2009, won 14.14 (98) to 9.13 (67) in front of73,400 fans at the MCG on Friday night to advanced to their fifth consecutive preliminary final.

First-year coach Chris Scott admits it was a gamble to go big and leave out veteran running defender Darren Milburn.

"I was sitting at home during the day and looking at the sheets of rain coming through and thinking, because Milburn is such a good wet-weather player," Scott said.

"In the end the decision to go with those big blokes paid off."

The Cats took 25 contested marks to Hawthorn's 11 as they emerged with a sunny outlook despite the cold and wet Melbourne night.

The only wet blanket for Geelong was the season-ending knee injury to Daniel Menzel.

Menzel, 20, kicked two goals but was carried from the field on a motorised cart after twisting his knee in a contest for the ball during the second quarter.

"He's devastated, and we're devastated," Scott said.

"I won't speculate as to the exact nature of the injury, but our medical staff aren't hopeful."

Hawkins, a veteran of 77 games, gave one of his best performances and justified Scott's decision to keep him in the side at the expense of three-time premiership player Cam Mooney, who is in his final season.

"He was really dominant in the air even when he didn't mark the ball," Scott said.

"He looked an imposing presence, and that's what he can do, and we think he's only going to get better."

Geelong midfield utility and 2007 Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel said the 197cm, 101kg power forward would be a key factor for the Cats in their premiership campaign.

Hawkins has battled for consistency and received many hours of tutelage from Geelong's coaching staff to improve his leading patterns and his impact on the game.

"He's only 23. People have got to cut him some slack," Bartel said.

Geelong's veterans also stood up against the Hawks, including ruckman-forward Ottens, 31, and small forward Paul Chapman, 29.

"We've been happy with everyone thinking that we're too old and too slow and no good," Bartel said.

Scott and Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson both remarked upon Geelong's thirst for the contested ball. Still hurting from their 2008 grand-final loss to Hawthorn, the Cats claimed their seventh consecutive win over the Hawks.

"The indication was our intensity around the ball was first class," Scott said.

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