Ablett was reported for an uncharacteristic right elbow to the head of Dylan Shiel in the first quarter
and for the second time this year, found himself being heartily booed every time he found the ball, this time at the hand of the Bombers supporters annoyed at his treatment of Shiel. It followed his poor treatment by the crowd a few weeks ago after a social media post relating to the Israel Folau
This resulted in a comical situation in the final quarter when the Geelong fans decided to match the
angst of their opposition number, and theatrically cheered each time the two-time Brownlow
medallist had the Sherrin. Which was often, and they drowned out the Essendon fans.
He had 26 disposals and kicked 2 goals – and as a small forward spending bits and pieces of time
through the middle, he could well be headed for another all-Australian gong.
Ablett was far from alone. Out-of contract midfielder Tim Kelly again showed why his signature is so
keenly-sought with a dynamic game at the heart of the action, gathering 30 disposals and kicking two goals to push Ablett for best-afield honours.
Not even the absence of any significant contribution from an injured Patrick Dangerfield could halt
Geelong’s progress. It is serious footy, Chris Scott’s team are playing; they entered this round as not
only the No. 1 offensive team but the No. 1 defence as well, and promptly shut down Essendon, one
of the competition’s most potent teams by repute.
Essendon led for just four minutes of the game. They have lost to Greater Western Sydney,
Collingwood and now Geelong, all considered contenders. Their reality is quite stark right now.
Patrick Dangerfield had a rough day at the MCG, despite his team’s fine performance, and he put on
a comedy act in the second quarter.
After taking a strong mark at the top of the goal square, the Brownlow medallist chose to loop a handball over the man on the mark toward teammate Jordan Clark. Only problem was, Clark was not
expecting it, and it sailed over his head as he slipped, trying to change direction. It trickled through
for a rushed behind and a certain goal went begging.
Dangerfield twisted his left knee early and spent most of the day at full-forward, heavily strapped up
and subdued, finishing with just nine disposals. He looked sore and out of sorts.
Geelong experienced life without Joel Selwood for a rare occasion on Sunday, the skipper having
withdrawn with what the club called ‘general soreness’, his first absence since an ankle operation
forced him out of the last three games of the 2017 season.
Don’t expect him to miss much football though; it would not have been an easy job to tell the 278-
game veteran that he was not playing in such a big game. The captain has never had a single season
in which he has played fewer than 20 games for Geelong.
Essendon’s inefficiency up forward was encapsulated by Joe Daniher’s poor output (one goal, three
marks, nine disposals) against the frugal Mark Blicavs, who beat him hands-down.
Daniher was brilliant in the Anzac Day match but his interrupted season may be having an impact
upon the all-Australian. Without him, Essendon had only Jake Stringer as an option for scoring.
Stringer played one of his better games for the club, kicking three excellent goals, but the rest of
Essendon’s front half (notably Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti) went missing.
The Dons took 12 forward-50 entries before they managed their first goal. Even by the end of the
game the inside 50s were 49-47 in their favour, to show how poor their conversion was.
4.0 7.3 10.7 13.8 (86)
3.3 4.5 5.6 7.12 (54)
GOALS – Geelong: Duncan 3, Hawkins 2, Ablett 2, Kelly 2, C.Guthrie, Rohan, Miers, Dahlhaus
Essendon: Stringer 3, Baguley, Bellchambers, Daniher, Parish
BEST – Geelong: Ablett, Kelly, Stewart, C Guthrie, Blicavs, Stanley, Menegola.
Essendon: Stringer, Merrett, Hurley, Shiel, Parish.
INJURIES – Geelong: Tuohy (soreness) replaced in selected side by Z Guthrie, Dangerfield (knee),
Ratugolea (head knock).
Essendon: Fantasia (ill) replaced in selected side by Langford.
REPORTS – Geelong: Gary Ablett for striking Dylan Shiel in the first quarter.
Umpires: Nicholls, Chamberlain, Glouftsis
Crowd: 63,527 at the MCG
Gary Ablett (Geelong) 8
Tim Kelly (Geelong) 7
Zach Merrett (Essendon) 6
Jake Stringer (Essendon) 6
Tom Stewart (Geelong) 6
Martin Blake is a Sports production journalist and writer for The Age.