Geelong Cats forwards combine for big goal haul against Adelaide Crows

Geelong defender Tom Atkins brought a bit of grunt during his move into the midfield, recording a career high in tackles. Find out why he’s there to stay.

Despite clear ascendancy in the ruck and at the stoppages, Adelaide could not cope with Geelong’s tackling pressure in the sides’ round 11 clash at GMHBA Stadium.

An inaccurate first quarter for the Crows, where they kicked 0.6, allowed Geelong to gain control of the match early and ultimately prevail 15.7 (97) to 7.13 (55).

Geelong’s pressure in the contest was obvious, with the side recording a season-high 100 tackles to Adelaide’s 78.

AFL Rd 11 - Geelong v Adelaide
AFL Rd 11 - Geelong v Adelaide

The Cats sit second in the competition for tackles, with their average of 60.1 per game just behind Collingwood with 60.8.

But despite sitting high in terms of tackle count, only one Geelong player sits in the top 20 across the competition, with star Mark Blicavs ranked 17th with 5.36 per game.

Midfielder Brandon Parfitt, captain Joel Selwood and defender-turned-midfielder Tom Atkins also average five tackles per game each, with Atkins recording a career-high 17 tackles against the Crows.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said it was important to put Adelaide under pressure in the contest, with both sides opting to battle for possession at the coalface.

“I thought it was a contested game, both teams chose to play with a little bit more congestion around the ball,” he said.

“Tom (Atkins) specifically led the charge from the guys in the hoops … we know what he can give us with his work around the ball.

“He just adds another dimension in there … we think he’s building himself into a really well-rounded player.”

The Cats’ consistent pressure on the ball carrier was crucial in the 42-point win, with Crows ruck Reilly O’Brien dominating around the ground.

After being recalled from the SANFL, O’Brien recorded a game-high 47 hit outs to go with 28 disposals, nine clearances, five marks and seven tackles.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MAY 28: Reilly O’Brien of the Crows and Mark Blicavs of the Cats contest the ruck during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MAY 28: Reilly O’Brien of the Crows and Mark Blicavs of the Cats contest the ruck during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Cats star Mark Blicavs was forced to shoulder the ruck duties with Rhys Stanley missing again with an ankle injury, with the utility recording 31 hit outs and 23 disposals.

Cats star Mark Blicavs was forced to shoulder the ruck duties with Rhys Stanley missing again with an ankle injury, with the utility recording 31 hit outs and 23 disposals.

Adelaide won the hit outs by nine (51-42) and clearances by six (51-45), but struggled to use the ball, losing the inside 50 count 36-61.

When they did get the ball inside the forward 50, the Crows struggle to get past defender Tom Stewart, who was Geelong’s best player.

Stewart recorded 40 disposals for the second time this season, as well as taking a season-high 16 marks (five intercept marks), 10 rebound 50s and five inside 50s.

Scott said Stewart’s dominance in the back half won Geelong the game, with the star able to nullify the Crows’ dominance at the stoppages.

Adelaide won the hit outs (51-42) and clearances (51-45), but struggled to use the ball, losing the inside 50 count 36-61.

“I thought the opposition were good, especially around the clearances they set up the game in our estimation to give themselves the best chance around the ball and stoppages to take territory,” Scott said.

“Given the clearance numbers were so heavily in their favour, I thought outside of that the rest of the game we controlled pretty well.”

AFL Rd 11 - Geelong v Adelaide
AFL Rd 11 - Geelong v Adelaide

“I thought the opposition were good, especially around the clearances they set up the game in our estimation to give themselves the best chance around the ball and stoppages to take territory,” Scott said.

“Given the clearance numbers were so heavily in their favour, I thought outside of that the rest of the game we controlled pretty well.

“Tom Stewart was just sensational today, if we didn’t have him behind the ball and they were winning the stoppages it would’ve been really difficult for us.”

‘Different excitement’: Cats forwards purring in settled system

Geelong livewire Gryan Miers said the forward structure at the Cattery was starting to find its flow as the side heads towards the halfway point of the season.

The small forward slotted three goals from 20 disposals in the Cats 15.7 (97) to 7.13 (55) win against Adelaide, with the win cementing Geelong a top-eight spot for another week.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Gryan Miers of the Cats celebrates kicking a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Gryan Miers of the Cats celebrates kicking a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Miers said Geelong’s forward structure was one of the most dangerous in the competition when it was “humming”.

“It’s been really good to have the forward line settling,” he said.

“Each week there seems to be someone that bobs up with a couple and with Jezza (Jeremy Cameron) and Hawk (Tom Hawkins) doing their thing it’s easy to put it together really well.”

Cameron kicked a game-high four goals for the Cats, while small forward Tyson Stengle joined Miers with three majors and Hawkins slotted two.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Tyson Stengle of the Cats celebrates a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Tyson Stengle of the Cats celebrates a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)

Miers said Geelong’s faster style of football in 2022 helped create more one-out contests for the side’s dangerous forwards.

“Everyone knows you want two or three guys at the feet and in front of our big guys, so we’re trying to move the ball a bit quicker,” he said.

“It opens the game up a bit more, gives us more chances at a one-on-one rather than allowing teams to get a few spares on them.”

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Tom Hawkins of the Cats competes for the ball with Tom Doedee of the Crows during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Tom Hawkins of the Cats competes for the ball with Tom Doedee of the Crows during the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)

20-year-old debutant Shannon Neale had chances in the forward 50, but the 202cm forward could not make the marks stick.

Miers said Neale was an exciting prospect for Geelong fans to marvel at for years to come.

“It’s always exciting having someone debut and someone new in the team, but Shannon is a different excitement for us,” he said.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Shannon Neale of the Cats sings the team song with teammates after winning the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Shannon Neale of the Cats sings the team song with teammates after winning the round 11 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at GMHBA Stadium on May 28, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

“He’s as exciting as you’ll get with a player, he’s super athletic for someone so big and he definitely made it fun for everyone when he went for those marks.

“We really wanted him to get a goal, he really wanted one as well going back from 60 metres out, but he provided some great contests in front of goal and he’ll get his chance.”

Originally published as Geelong Cats forwards combine for big goal haul against Adelaide Crows

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