Cats end Fremantle’s run
Geelong 8.1 10.7 14.13 20.15 (135)
Fremantle 1.1 4.2 7.6 10.6 (66)
Geelong: Podsiadly 3, Stokes 3, Johnson 3, Wojcinski 2, Mooney, Ling, Selwood, Bartel, Byrnes, Hawkins, Ottens, Chapman, Varcoe
Fremantle: Pavlich 4, Walters 3, Mayne, Fyfe, Duffield
Geelong: Ablett, Wojcinski, Bartel, Chapman, Varcoe, Podsiadly, Corey
Fremantle: Pavlich, Mundy, Walters, McPharlin, Broughton, Fyfe, Johnson
Umpires: Vozzo, McBurney, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 45,056 at the MCG
Fremantle’s season has come to an abrupt halt with a 69-point loss to Geelong in their semi-final at the MCG on Friday night.
The Cats exploded out of the blocks, stunning Freo with an eight-goal-to-one first quarter, and appeared to content to do just enough to maintain a healthy buffer before a late burst set up the final score line, 20.15 (135) to 10.6 (66).
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey rolled the dice by playing Aaron Sandilands despite concerns over his knee and the gamble did not pay off.
The giant ruckman was clearly hampered by the injury sustained in the elimination final against Hawthorn and he had little effect on the contest after starting inside forward 50.
Despite his ineffectiveness, Harvey defended the decision to include him.
“We know what we’re doing … we’ve had scan after scan and that’s all you can do,” Harvey said.
“If the big bloke says that he wants to play, well, you try telling him he’s not playing. He’s got a very steely resolve about pain or saying that I’m playing no matter what sort of injury.
“He … knows that the team needs him so he put his hand up.”
Geelong’s band of high-calibre runners held sway for the most part with Gary Ablett (36 disposals), Jimmy Bartel (35), Paul Chapman (31) and Joel Selwood (33) amassing big numbers as their side dominated the possession count, 484 to 287.
Matthew Pavlich was one of the few standouts in a desperately disappointing Freo side with 21 disposals and four goals, with David Mundy battled hard for his 30 touches.
The start was always going to be critical if the rank outsiders were to cause an upset, but Geelong’s early dominance quickly made that outcome highly unlikely much to the delight of coach Mark Thompson.
“That is exactly the way we wanted to start,” Thompson said.
“We did it for a period last week and this week we started that way and that is the way you should start. You should be excited about playing finals. You should have an intensity about you. The way it panned out was perfect.
“There were bits and pieces of play I wasn’t happy with but generally the night went as planned.”
Selwood booted the first goal less than two minutes in and by the time Steve Johnson opened his account 20 minutes later, Fremantle was 31 points down and hadn’t looked like scoring.
A piece of Pavlich brilliance late in the term at least rectified that issue, but the margin was 42 points when the teams went into the first break.
Perhaps content with their blistering opening stanza, Geelong’s intensity waned in the second and Freo was at least able to mount some sort of challenge.
Michael Walters escaped Corey Enright’s clutches twice in quick succession to boot successive goals, but the Cats lifted just enough to ensure their lead remained an imposing 41 points at half time.
Fremantle enjoyed its best period of the match in the third quarter with the swift, daring ball movement that delivered a semi-final appearance coming to the fore.
But three goals were all they could muster before Cameron Ling urged his side to a strong finish with a goal that set up the 49-point three-quarter time margin.
A game that hadn’t reached any great heights for the preceding two quarters at least finished with a bit of a flurry as the Cats advanced to the preliminary final in style with some brilliant late passages of play.