It's Saturday night and we're about to have a reckoning as North and Geelong face-off. Yes we'll finally learn who has the upper hand and the weakest knees when Selwood and Thomas vie for dominance in the great duck-off. No, this is really the battle of the Scotts—those cantankerous coaching twins, the cray Krays of the AFL.
Bartel gets some early touches and cannot be missed on the ground. He looks like he's stepped out of the woods of Sleepy Hollow and I'm surprised to see him without moonshine and a fiddle. Repping quite a different aesthetic is Duncan who starts doing Aerobics Oz Style star jumps on the mark. Near the boundary line Nahas puts on a Fagan masterclass as he pick-pockets a couple of stray Cats. Speaking of masterclasses, no-one is more in thrall of their own skills than Menzel who goals and gets too exuberant for my liking this early in a game.
Now that I'm on an aesthetic bent, it strikes me that Selwood always looks like he thinks he's in a war film, just like that other Scott—Scott Robinson of Erinsborough—who told the world he wanted to fight terrorists in the Levant, if only those Australian defence bureaucrats weren't holding him back. There's a lot of Geelong dominatrix business in the first term but no conversion on the scoreboard. Soon Swallow cops a blow to the bonce and it's a pernicious strike from cruel gods, or a 'nice one' if you're a bastard. Swallow watches the game on field, concussed—like a senior gentleman who's wandered away from the retirement village in his pyjamas. The first quarter ends 28:24 the Cats way.
In the second quarter there are loose men everywhere: the ground resembles a speed-skating session at the Caribbean Gardens roller-skating rink. Again the Cats dominate but North nail their chances like Romans nail crucifixes. Speaking of which, Swallow gets on the blower to his man Jesus, who in turn embiggens Harvey who kicks a 4th goal for North. There's a burst of injury scares to Menzel, Cunnington and Dal Santo while the Cats are spraying in front of the posts as they are want to do.
As quarter 3 begins, the least hirsute man in football, Dal Santo, kicks directly to its woolliest specimen, J. Bartel, who goals. I notice a strange, Adelaidesque advertising hoarding promoting Candida Pet Food (or some such) and suddenly there is a spooky rash of Cat goals. Every time Goldstein touches the boil he recoils like he's received an electro shock. The Kangaroos stay in touch but at one point they resemble table soccer figurines, all facing toward goal as Mullett tries to find a target. The last quarter sees the Cats pull away and Waite return to form with 0 goals from 3 games and a nice elbow to Taylor.
On Sunday evening a tense showdown begins. Billed as the Battle of the Bridge, GWS and Sydney meet at Spotless for a conflagration I prefer to call the Battle of the Bay. It's the sailors from the HMAS Swans versus the GWS pirates. The sound of 'Hells Bells' echoes across the stadium before the game and like a bad boy Ward turns up late for the coin toss.
Scully goals early and there's a scuffle on deck between Rampe and Cameron. The ball spends a lot of time in GWS' half or acts like it wants to be there but GWS are shooting with blunderbusses and keep missing the target. It's not long before Sydney's Captain Jack scores and it's now 10:6, but can Captain Jack keep Sydney high tonight?
From the Crows' Nest, Tippett takes a nice grab but hits the mast. The human punching bag Phil Davis gets taken high by Franklin who—just like a sailor—will be frustrated for most of the voyage. On board the Swan's ship, young Rose—who looks like he desperately needs a quarter time orange—lines up for goal and misses.
The ball has spent the second half of quarter 1 in Sydney's half but GWS are alive to this and have a strategy known as 'Shift to Shaw' or 'The Sextant' to combat it—which involves Shaw as the pivot point.
In quarter 2 Patton, who looks like an officer abducted and brainwashed by the GWS pirates, gets on the board. He hasn't scored much recently so he's earned the moniker Captain Blueballs from his hearties. Franklin, irritated by Davis, cleans up Wilson and gives him a decent case of sea legs. Kant once stated that out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made. But Kant never met Shaw who, with his two wooden looking pegs, always drives the ball straight. GWS pile on a few goals while Franklin and Johnson engage in a bit of byplay.
In the premiership quarter Franklin tries to foil GWS's forward lunge with a parry however the Giants didn't come with foils but with cutlasses. This is meta-pirate fighting and GWS snag the first two goals bringing the score to 50:30 the Giants way. Laidler throws caution to the wind and tries to fell Mumford like a giant Fir tree for a new mast. It's time to get the Sydney Seashanty sailing true, but it doesn't pan out as Lobb the octopus man kicks another goal and puts the score-line at 63:30.
Rose gets his 3rd shot at goal but pulls it wildly once again like a tugboat captain. There's murmurings he's a 5th columnist that may soon be forced to walk the plank. It wouldn't surprise either if Jones was thrown in a knapsack and quietly dropped in a blue lagoon. When Greene goals again the score's 71:31 and this voyage is all but over.
Gerard Healy has been making audible grumbles all day when Sydney botches the cargo. He loves his capital teams—Melbourne and Sydney—and some terrible sagas no doubt flood his memory banks.
In the final quarter Sydney make a mini surge but when Whitfield—the runaway cabin boy looking for adventure—goals, it's the killer blow. From here on it's all celebratory for the pirates. When Patton marks and goals it's a thing of beauty but given his officer deportment it's a cold beauty. Steve Johnson delivers the warm wave of elation the Giants' players and fans want when he sneaks a goal through traffic. All hail the new toughs of Sydney!
Cold beauty Hot blood.
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