It was hardly a case of ‘No Joel Selwood, no worries’ but Geelong still found a way to beat the Western Bulldogs without their inspirational skipper.
Serious questions were asked of the Cats’ midfield depth minus their best onballer and while it wasn’t pretty, Chris Scott’s side found the answers in a 10.12 (72) to 9.10 (64) win at Simonds Stadium.
Josh Caddy was largely responsible for filling the void left by Selwood, with a best afield 37-possession, 12-clearance performance, but Mitch Duncan and Steven Motlop were also important, along with veterans Jimmy Bartel and James Kelly.
Geelong, ranked 16th in contested possession going into the match, even managed a rare win in the key statistical area against the Dogs.
“The simple answer is the guys who are in and around there, those individuals had good days,” Chris Scott said of his side’s stoppage work. “Caddy was much, much better than he was last week and Duncan coming back helped.
“We lost Selwood so we knew we needed someone to step up, but whether Selwood plays well or not, we need some other guys to develop their game.
“There have stages this year when we’ve been very optimistic and then there have been stages where your confidence gets dented a little bit.
“The challenge is to keep things in perspective. “We’re not as good as the best teams yet, but we think the trajectory is positive.”
Motlop was particularly important late when he kicked Geelong’s last three goals to help his side over the line in what was a dour affair for the most part.
The Cats’ lead was sliced to just seven points when Tory Dickson kicked his third goal with only a few minutes left on the clock, but Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge lamented some common sense decision-making errors that proved costly late in the match.
Beveridge quipped that Caddy had “played like he was Joel Selwood” and admitted his side had been outworked in a frustrating display.
“Usually when we get beaten I like to give the opposition a little bit of credit, and the Cats were okay, but I’m sure they’re sitting there thinking that they were just okay and they beat us,” Beveridge said. “We just had too many players down … it’s disappointing.”
The win evens Geelong’s ledger at seven wins and seven losses, with the points split from their abandoned game against Adelaide, and could prove vital in the context of the Cats’ finals ambitions.
“It’s the 64 million dollar question – I’ll tell you after the fact,” Scott said when asked about the significance of the win.
“I’m not into guessing.
“I think for a six-week period I’ve been told every week, ‘Gee this is an important game for you’ … that’s just where we are on the ladder. The competition is tight (and there are) a lot of teams in and around the same spot.
“My suggestion is not get too carried away with one good performance and all is not lost with one bad performance.”