The gang from Geelong turned up to Sydney town on Saturday night. The Cats were taking on the Sydney Swans with a mission to take 4 premiership points. For most of the night their plan was running to schedule. They were ahead on all of the key statistical numbers. It would simply be only a matter of time before the win was theirs and they would fly home happy ever after. The problem for Geelong was they didn’t figure on the young guns of the Sydney Swans who stepped up when all looked lost. The Swans chipped and chipped away at Geelong’s lead before an act of individual brilliance from Tom Papley with a minute or so remaining, saw Sydney steal an improbable victory. The Swans also had luck on their side when a bad umpiring call was made on Geelong forward Jeremy Cameron whose mark right on the point side of the goals was deemed to have not carried the required 15 metre distance. It was a howler of a mistake with only seconds remaining and one wonders if Cameron (whose shot would have come after the siren) would have been a goal. It was an insane ending leaving the Cats players stunned and the Sydney crowd delirious with pure joy.
Sydney looked to be heading for a challenging evening with key defender Dane Rampe still out of the side with a hand injury. George Hewitt and Sam Reid were also missing through injury. On the plus side Tom McCartin and Tom Hickey made a welcome return. Hickey was a surprise inclusion as his knee was diagnosed with a PCL injury and an early return seemed out of the question. For the Cats they were coming off the back of a comprehensive thrashing of West Coast last week at Kardinia Park and were in peak shape.
Tom Papley kicked the game’s first goal, with Geelong adding their first minutes later by Gryan Miers. Tall Swan forward Hayden McLean was proving to be a handful for his opponent in Lachie Henderson. McLean’s long, telescopic-like arms reached up to take a solid mark and goal. The Cats quickly responded via Gary Rohan and then went on a goal scoring blitz booting 6 goals for the term. Ex-Giant Jeremy Cameron booted 2 with Geelong looking in complete control.
With the start of the second quarter, it was imperative that Sydney started putting scoreboard pressure on Geelong. They were able to do so thanks to the hard work of their younger brigade in Chad Warner, Errol Gulden, Dylan Stephens and Justin McInerney. Those group of four players had only played a combined total of 42 games yet they were able to chip away at the Cats lead by each kicking crucial goals. Former Swan Gary Rohan was Geelong’s only goal kicker for the term. The half time break saw Sydney only a goal behind and were back in the match.
The second half was reasonably equal with the Cats holing a slight edge over the Swans. The dramatic final term saw Geelong gain a 10 point buffer in the final minutes but Sydney refused to yield. James Rowbottom kicked a pressure goal with a minute or so remaining. Up stepped Tom Papley with some individual brilliance with a manic handpass to a teammate then a handball receive for an electrifying snap and the lead. The SCG crowded roared loudly as the ball bounced through the goals and unbelievably the Sydney Swans were headed for an improbable win. Geelong refused to give in and pushed forward. The game’s most controversial incident occurred when Jeremy Cameron looked to have held a mark in between the goal and behind posts on a very tight angle. The field umpire called play on and the mark was refused. If the mark had been awarded the question is would Cameron have been able to kick a difficult goal as he would not have been allowed to play on and improve the very tight angle. It was a bad call by the umpires during a night when the umpiring standard was also sub-par for both teams. The AFL later admitted the call on Cameron was wrong.
Geelong coach Chris Scott was realistic in his summation of the game “It’s unusual to dominate a game like that statistically and not get the result. It’s no good in saying, we played really well but we didn’t execute because execution is a part of playing well. In saying that, after the first quarter the opposition played really well. They executed really well, their accuracy in front of goal was probably the difference in the game”.
A grinning Sydney coach in John Longmire was full of praise for his team’s exciting win “We were in a lot of trouble at quarter time, there’s no question about that. Certainly for the next couple of quarters we were able to slowly get back in the game. We were able to do that with good belief, we kept hanging in there and pushing away. We kept working and a couple of big efforts by some players is what got us over the line”.
The “gang” from Geelong flew home on a chartered flight from Bankstown airport on Saturday night back to Avalon, Geelong. The team arrived at around 1:30 am Sunday morning. Geelong (5th, 4 wins, 3 losses) play Richmond (6th, 4 wins, 3 losses) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this Friday night. Sydney (4th, 5 wins, 2 losses) play at the MCG the following evening against league leaders in Melbourne (1st, 7 wins, 0 losses)
SYDNEY 2.1 7.2 10.6 14.6 (90)
GEELONG 6.5 7.8 10.10 12.16 (88)
Sydney: McLean 4, Florent 2, Papley 2, Warner, Gulden, Stephens, McInerney, Hickey, Rowbottom
Geelong: Cameron 3, Rohan 2, Close 2, Miers, Menegola, Duncan, Hawkins, Dahlhaus
Sydney: McLean, Florent, Hickey, Kennedy, Papley
Geelong: Henry, Duncan, Selwood, Cameron, Close
Sydney: Lewis Melican (hamstring)
Geelong: Gryan Miers (leg)
Sydney: Ryan Clarke (replaced Melican)
Geelong: Zach Guthrie (replaced Miers)
Sydney: Andrew Heffernan, Mathew Nicholls Brett Rosebury
Crowd: 29,123 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Driver Avenue, Moore Park, Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia