Dees end Cats’ unbeaten start

May 5, 2024 10:10 am in by
Zach Guthrie was among Geelong's best in an eight-point loss to Melbourne. (Jason Borys/Pixled Sports Media)

Bayley Fritsch’s likely AFL goal of the year has helped Melbourne secure a gritty eight-point win, ending Geelong’s perfect start to the season.

The 10.14 (74) to 9.12 (66) win on Saturday night at the MCG is a significant boost to Melbourne’s bona fides and takes them to 6-2, while the Cats are 7-1 and have lost top spot to Sydney.

While there was a lot of talk pre-game about how Melbourne needed a big scalp, coach Simon Goodwin was measured about what the win meant.

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“I don’t sit here and look at it like that. It’s a long year, and the key thing for us is how we get better as the year goes on,” he said.

“Tonight’s just a step in the right direction, but it’s not everything.”

Melbourne kicked five goals to three in the last term, a stark contrast to the goalless second term that featured nine behinds.

Cats star Jeremy Cameron, who has been in such strong form this season, missed two straightforward set shots in the last quarter, including the last score of the game.

Cameron and fellow Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins kicked 0.4 between them – Cameron also kicked another behind in the last term and three for the game – with Melbourne key defenders Steven May, Jake Lever and Tom McDonald all excellent.

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It’s the first time in Hawkins’ 354-game career that he has not kicked a goal in four-straight games.

“He’ll come out at some point. But at the risk of sounding defensive, I’m not sure how many goals Hawk has kicked in his career … what I’m certain of is he’s given away a lot more than other key forward in the history of the game,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.

He also defended Cameron, saying: “If we had another shot and we could give it to anyone, I’d give it to Jeremy.

“It’s one of those things. Hawk had his chances as well.

“We thought we were off early on, and the real positive we take from the game is we were off, and we gave ourselves a chance to win.”

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Melbourne led by three points with three minutes left when a long ball from Christian Petracca looked like rolling out of bounds as Fritsch ran after it.

His opponent Jack Henry eased up in pursuit, and Fritsch pounced, somehow dribbling through his third goal – and the last of the game – from deep in the pocket.

Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver and Geelong’s Max Holmes had 31 disposals apiece, while Ollie Henry kicked three goals for the Cats.

The Demons kicked the last two goals of the opening term to hold a four-point lead and then everyone’s radar went missing.

There were 14 consecutive behinds from 21 minutes in the first quarter until five minutes into the third, when Kade Chandler finally broke the goal drought from his set shot.

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That sparked a rush of goals, with Melbourne twice going 14 points ahead.

But Geelong kicked four to two in the term for a two-point lead at the last change.

Melbourne captain Max Gawn was floored in the third term when Rhys Stanley caught him with a leg to his head at a ball-up.

Gawn looked dazed as he lay on the ground, but he took the next centre bounce.

He gave Melbourne back the lead two minutes into the final term when he kicked a booming goal from outside 50m.

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Geelong onballer Taylor Bruhn was subbed out with a shoulder injury.

(C) AAP 2024