AFL Round 21 Geelong v St Kilda: All the news, action and fallout

Patrick Dangerfield was a last-minute withdrawal on Saturday night after feeling calf tightness in the warm-up. Get the latest on his diagnosis plus the rest of Geelong’s injury list.

Ladder leader Geelong has dodged an injury bullet after superstar Patrick Dangerfield was cleared of damage to his calf.

In a relief for the premiership favourites, the club confirmed scans on Monday had revealed no new injury to the midfield ace.

Dangerfield was a last-minute withdrawal from the Cats’ win over St Kilda last Saturday night after he felt a tight calf muscle during the pre-game warm-up at GMHBA Stadium.

The Cats said Dangerfield would be monitored during the week before a decision was made on whether he can face the Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

“Pleasingly, scans have revealed no new injury,” Geelong’s head of medical and conditioning services Harry Taylor said.

“Patrick has completed running this morning and will be monitored throughout the week to assess his availability.”

With just two games remaining in the regular season ahead of a finals campaign for which many consider them the team to beat, the Cats may opt to play it safe with the 32-year-old this week.

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Patrick Dangerfield has been cleared of a serious injury. Picture: Mark Stewart
Patrick Dangerfield has been cleared of a serious injury. Picture: Mark Stewart

The club said captain Joel Selwood and versatile big man Mark Blicavs, who were managed for the match against St Kilda, would be available for selection against the Suns.

But ruckman Jon Ceglar has entered AFL concussion protocols after he was concussed in the VFL on Sunday.

Dangerfield has managed only 13 games this season after battling calf issues, but had put together five straight games before Saturday night’s setback.

The three-time Cats’ best-and-fairest said on Saturday night it was the “mature decision” to pull out of the game given his recent injury history and the context of the Cats’ season..

“It is just not quite right,” Dangerfield said

“At the back of your mind, it is just that decision-making ... how long I was out for last time and just making the mature decision around where we are at and where the season is at.

“It is almost a relief, to be honest. It was so close to game time and the crowd was starting to roll in, (there is) the emotion around wanting to be involved.

“But then there are the practicalities around making a good decision.”

Dangerfield was one of three withdrawals for the Cats for the match against the Saints along with Blicavs (managed) and Ceglar (sub), while Gary Rohan missed with concussion.

The Cats said Rohan continued to progress through the league’s concussion protocols and his availability would be determined later in the week.

Cruising Cats face internal pain

– Mark Hayes, Glenn McFarlane

Geelong coach Chris Scott admitted he had a looming selection headache after another dominant win over St Kilda stretched the Cats’ winning run to 11 games.

With finals rapidly approaching, the Cats sat Mark Blicavs, Jon Ceglar and skipper Joel Selwood, while Gary Rohan missed with concussion and superstar Patrick Dangerfield was a last-minute exclusion having felt a tight calf muscle during warm-up at GHMBA Stadium.

Scott admitted after the 45-point win that discussions at the selection table would soon become “really hard” for the top-of-the-table Cats.

“We’re asking players to stay in the moment and not project too far out,” he said.

“We understand they’re human, and they’re smart and that they look and do the numbers all the time and we’re doing what we can to suggest they don’t do that.

Geelong coach Chris Scott enjoyed another relatively comfortable but has forecast trouble in another area. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Geelong coach Chris Scott enjoyed another relatively comfortable but has forecast trouble in another area. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images

“Often these things have a way of working themselves out, but … the old cliché is that’s it’s a good problem to have, but it’s one of the worst parts about coaching, just thinking about the guys who’ve given so much who might not get to the line.

“But you can’t allow yourself to think that way too much because it almost implies we’re assuming we’ll go a long way into the finals and we’re not assuming anything.

“It’s good we’ve got depth, there’ll be some sad stories, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Dangerfield set tongues wagging when he effectively volunteered his calf issue pre-game, rather than pushing through like he once might have.

“The feedback I’ve got from him and the medical staff is that he’s fine,” said Scott, who was confident he’d be right to face Gold Coast next weekend.

“He just felt some awareness (of calf tightness) in the warm-up and I think in the past he’s pushed through these things thinking he’d be fine.

“And even if there was a one per cent chance that he might do some damage, he wasn’t prepared to take it.

“So it seemed a logical call.”

Dangerfield was walking without discomfort in the rooms after the game.

“It is just not quite right,” he said before the game.

“At the back of your mind, it is just that decision-making ... how long I was out for last time and just making the mature decision around where we are at and where the season is at.

“It is almost a relief to be honest. It was so close to game time and the crowd was starting to roll in, (there is) the emotion around wanting to be involved.

“But then there are the practicalities around making a good decision.”

Saints’ century of woe at the Cattery continues

Try to imagine this scenario through a pre-season lens.

Geelong’s midfield combo at bounces is Stanley, Dahlhaus, Atkins and Guthrie.

Selwood is rested, Dangerfield is a late out, as is Blicavs, the game’s best large utility.

Max King is to be manned by a skinny rookie called De Koning and St Kilda is rolling into town with their season on the line.

That might have been enough to worry Cats fans six months ago – but not now.

Geelong showed its all-round depth and ruthlessly peeled off its 11th consecutive win, this time by 45 points at the expense of a St Kilda team still alive in the finals race, but realistically only by the collective ineptitude of all the teams chasing eighth place.

As it has been for much of the winning run, it was hard to specify the Cats’ matchwinners, so even was the spread of influence.

But one thing is above debate – when the Cats flex up across half-back, it’s game over.

Tom Atkins chases down Saint Dan Butler in Saturday night’s win. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos
Tom Atkins chases down Saint Dan Butler in Saturday night’s win. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Jed Bews, 150-gamer Jake Kolodjashnij, Tom Stewart, Mitch Duncan and the sensational Sam De Koning had a bit on their plate when the Saints got on top in the middle late in the second term.

But after halftime, the visitors simply whacked on the clamps and it was all over with eight goals before a junk-time snap by Jack Higgins ended a 50-minute goal drought.

Brad Crouch and Jack Sinclair tried hard for the Saints, but in the absence of the “big names”, Brandan Parfitt, Max Holmes and Sam Menegola filled the breach.

Earlier, Tyson Stengle, while not as prolific as several of his midfield mates, was particularly clean in contests, even taking a mark of the week contender to bring the members out of their seats.

The former Tiger and Crow has rapidly become the perfect foil for high-profile big men Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins and his two goals brought his season tally to 39, highlighting his value to Chris Scott’s September ambitions.

The Saints will slide out of the top eight after the loss. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos
The Saints will slide out of the top eight after the loss. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Earlier, the Saints looked primed for the fight.

They seemed in trouble after 20 minutes with the inside-50 count 12-4 against and their deficit 21 points.

But to its credit, St Kilda added a couple of late goals in the first term and broke a drought – for both clubs – of nine minutes to start the second term to stay in touch.

When Dan Butler booted a goal at the 26-minute mark to narrow the margin to four points, it looked like it was game on.

But it only served to steel the Cats, who are now two games clear of third place and appear set for a “home” final in week one.

Did the Butler do it?

Everyone will have a different viewpoint of the incident, but there’s no doubt we’ll see a lot of replays about Dan Butler winning a 50m penalty at the expense of Rhys Stanley in the third term.

Butler, having tackled the big Cat to win a free-kick on centre wing, eventually rose from their tangle and dangled the ball enticingly in front of the ruckman.

Stanley definitely took the bait, waving his arms and eventually making sufficient contact to dislodge the ball and earn the extra impost.

But whether or not Butler dropped the pill like he’d just learned it had radioactive plutonium or not is a completely different story.

Tyson Stengle booted another two goals for Geelong. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos
Tyson Stengle booted another two goals for Geelong. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Long-distance call

Perhaps barring Malcolm Blight, there was no better player than Mitch Duncan to have the ball in hand outside 50m as the siren sounded for quarter-time.

With memories of Duncan’s ball-bursting torpedo from 60m against the fence after halftime against West Coast last year, it was such a walk in the park from 52m that the veteran made very light work of a drop-punt to fly the 25 people inhabiting the goal square.

Century of woe

The loss was St Kilda’s eleventh consecutive such result at Kardinia Park, dating back to 1999.

Historically, that might not surprise some – but when you consider the talent of some of the St Kilda teams in the intervening years, it’s more than little disturbing for Saints fans.

Throw in the fact that the average losing margin in those 11 matches is 48.2 points, it’s becoming extraordinary.

For the record on that glorious June day as Y2K bug fears grew, the Brownlow votes went to Nathan Burke, Andrew Thompson and Glenn Kilpatrick.

St Kilda skipper Jack Steele tackles Mark O'Connor. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
St Kilda skipper Jack Steele tackles Mark O'Connor. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Scoreboard

GEELONG 6.4 8.5 12.7 17.8 (110)

ST KILDA 3.0 7.1 7.4 10.5 (65)

BEST:

Geelong: Holmes, De Koning, Smith, Bews, Stengle, Kolodjashnij.

St Kilda: Crouch, Wilkie, Steele, Windhager.

GOALS:

Geelong: Hawkins (3), Smith (3), Cameron (2), Stengle (2), Close, Henry, Tuohy, Duncan, Holmes, Menegola, Z.Guthrie.

St Kilda: Higgins (2), Membrey (2), King, Sinclair, Wood, Butler, Steele, Long.

INJURIES:

Geelong: nil; Late changes: Dangerfield (calf) replaced by Dahlhaus; Blicavs (managed) replaced by Menegola; Ceglar (made medi-sub) replaced by Tuohy.

St Kilda: Hannebery (ankle).

CROWD: 20,583 at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong.

MARK HAYES’ VOTES

3: Holmes (GEE)

2: De Koning (GEE)

1: Smith (GEE)

Cats at it again as Danger out moments before siren

- Glenn McFarlane

Patrick Dangerfield has suffered another calf issue just a month out from the AFL finals with the star Geelong midfielder saying he made the “mature” decision to withdraw just moments before the start of Saturday night’s clash with St Kilda.

In a few moments of pre-game drama, Dangerfield was one of three late withdrawals for the Cats, along with Mark Blicavs (managed) and Jon Ceglar (sub).

Dangerfield, 32, has managed only 13 games this season after battling calf issues but had put together five straight games before Saturday night’s setback.

Geelong Cats coach Chris Scott speaks with Patrick Dangerfield after training. Picture: Alison Wynd
Geelong Cats coach Chris Scott speaks with Patrick Dangerfield after training. Picture: Alison Wynd

He warmed up briefly on the ground 40 minutes before the start, but was closely attended by medical staff who appeared to be assessing his fitness.

He revealed to Channel 7 later that he felt he had no option but to make a late call after reporting “low level calf tightness” in the warm-up following a full week on the training track.

“It is just not quite right,” Dangerfield said of the issue.

“At the back of your mind, it is just that decision-making .. how long I was out for last time and just making the mature decision around where we are at and where the season is at.

“It is almost a relief to be honest. It was so close to game time and the crowd was starting to roll in, (there is) the emotion around wanting to be involved.

“But then there are the practicalities around making a good decision.”

Sam Menegola, Zach Tuohy and Luke Dahlhaus were the three Cats coming into the team.

It was the first time since Dangerfield had joined the Cats from Adelaide in 2016 that Geelong had played an AFL game without him and skipper Joel Selwood, who was managed.

Originally published as AFL Round 21 Geelong v St Kilda: All the news, action and fallout