Former Geelong star fires for Eagles
GEELONG looked like it had found the secret to unpicking premiership favourite West Coast, but fell victim to a powerful second half fightback from the premiership favourites, who won a Saturday night thriller 11.7 (73) to 10.4 (64) at Optus Stadium last night.
The Cats built a 22-point lead halfway through the second quarter, taking away the Eagles’ marking game with a high-pressure assault that had them poised for a memorable win.
But the Eagles proved they are on another level, kicking four of the last five goals in a classic clash that was sealed by champion forward Josh Kennedy in the last two minutes.
Former Geelong star Tim Kelly was one of the best on ground for the triumphant team.
The 2018 premiers moved equal on points with fourthplaced St Kilda, winning their fifth straight match as they build fearsome form during an extended run at home. Ruckman Nic Naitanui was sublime at stoppages, setting up midfielders Luke Shuey and former Cat Tim Kelly with his vast array of artistic taps.
The reason West Coast chased Tim Kelly so hard was encapsulated at the opening bounce in the star midfielder’s first game against his former club.
Nic Naitanui won the tap down to captain Luke Shuey, who handballed to Kelly on the burst, with the 26-yearold sending the ball deep to Josh Kennedy for the opening goal. It was the new Eagles’ midfield at its best, and it all happened in 12 seconds.
There was clearly still respect between Kelly the clearance specialist and his former Cats teammates.
Kelly picked up 23 possessions and five clearances., with his clean handling in traffic a clear sign he is on top of his game.
The Cats showed they knew how to beat the Eagles. They just didn’t maintain the pressure for long enough.
West Coast averaged an AFL-high 84 marks before Saturday night’s clash, but there is a massive contrast in their ability to get into space and mark in wins and losses.
Geelong’s Harry Taylor gets tackled by the Eagles’ Tim Kelly. Picture: PAUL KANE/GETTY