It is also emblematic of Geelong this year. Although he has been a good player for a long time, what he represents is how Geelong gets something out of players in roles. Tom Atkins’ game last week was great with the ball. He played a part with Sam Walsh on Saturday night and although Walsh was one of the best players for the Blues, the pressure from Atkins around competitions was still high.
Geelong has impacted these Atkins players, Brad Close, Max Holmes, Mark O’Connor and even Gryan Miers, all of whom have pace and are used to the higher pressure game Geelong has played.
Geelong killed Carlton on turnover, which is an area that has improved significantly from 2022, and it was the pressure from those quick fringe types that was big in the change. Jeremy Cameron benefits from it and contributes to its realization.
Football analysts will always look at these seemingly unmeasurable pressure elements in football and conclude that they are an essential ingredient of any premiership. Geelong, now at the top of the scale, has clearly improved in this area.
And, of course, on top of that they added Tyson Stengle, a player who wasn’t seen as more of an opportunist than a pressurizer at Richmond and then Adelaide, but he mixed that with his trickery around goal. You didn’t really know what Geelong was missing until Stengle came on and his cleverness in finding space and skill in finishing made the Cats forward line much more rounded.
Since the bye, Carlton have lost to Richmond, St Kilda and Geelong, and beaten Fremantle. In those recent finals readiness tests in a period when they were looking to make the top four teams, they failed.
Curiously, it is in Fremantle that they most resemble. Both have made huge strides this year that deserve huge credit and don’t deserve to be diminished by the thought of what they don’t seem ready to be yet.
Both things can be true. They may have had brilliant seasons, yet disappointed in recent critical contests. Both were disappointed at the weekend in matches where credibility was at stake.
Carlton will be better when Zac Williams and Jack Martin return and give them some of the racing and outside class they lack. They’re still looking forward, as always, to Caleb Marchbank. With these players they look better and maybe can still make that flag charge, but some of their managers will be disappointed with how they fared against the Cats.
In the battle for the game’s top four key strikers, Harry McKay was notably left behind. Michael Voss was clearly frustrated not just with McKay, but with the way the ball was sent forward and then how easily Geelong’s pressure flipped the ball into Carlton’s front line.
Richmond forgot how to win. Three flags for many of these Richmond players and yet twice in two weeks they have lost games that needed to be won in the final minutes. Twice they were beaten by inferior teams.
Losing to a team the week after they part ways with their manager is nothing new in football, but this is a team that just asked for a priority pick, it’s apparently so bad. North was good last week against Collingwood but still Richmond, 11.22? Win inside 50, count 67-46 and lose?
Richmond was the team that always found ways to win when they had bad days. Now they play like a team that finds ways to lose.
It may seem premature, but it is not. Nick Daicos should be in contention for All-Australian. The same goes for Sam De Koning by the way.
At the very least, the wonderful young son of Melbourne’s most famous Macedonian and nine-year-old athletic blonde-haired big brother should be part of the wider squad.
Daicos has reached a point where there should no longer be a “good for a first-year player” runner to his performances. He’s just good regardless of his age. On Saturday, he landed 40 touches and gave up three. It’s a hell of a game regardless of age.
De Koning is so confident in the air that he played a crucial role in Geelong’s rise to the top of the ladder. Competition is hot for spots on Team AA, even the wider squad, and especially for key defenders, with May, Weitering, Grimes likely putting the Cats backman just outside that bracket. , but its year should be recognized.
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