SAD NEWS: Geelong key player suffers career-ending injury

Geelong’s finals push has been dealt a major blow after premiership stars Mark Blicavs and Tom Hawkins limped from the field with serious soft-tissue injuries in an upset seven-point loss to Fremantle on Saturday.

On a day the Cats hoped to celebrate Chris Scott overtaking the legendary Reg Hickey (304 matches) for most games coached at the club, the afternoon became a horror show, with the defeat at GMHBA Stadium leaving them outside the top eight, and with serious worries over the durable Blicavs and Hawkins.

 

Blicavs hurt his left hamstring while attempting to tackle Corey Wagner in the second term, and clutched his leg as he left the field. Scans will determine the extent of the injury.

“They (medical team) said moderate hamstring strain,” Scott said, without elaborating on how long this would mean on the sidelines for the “irreplaceable” Blicavs.

Hawthorn premiership great Jordan Lewis said during the commentary on Fox Footy that the injury “looked nasty”.

“That doesn’t look good. That is an extended period on the sidelines,” Lewis said.

Blicavs was replaced by substitute Mark O’Connor, although it was Gary Rohan who helped fill Blicavs’ void in the ruck, with Scott indicating he may do so again next week. It’s a significant setback for the Cats, as Blicavs is their most versatile – and arguably most important – player.

Goalkicking great Hawkins pulled up short with a left hamstring strain and limped from the field with eight minutes remaining in the final term. He had booted two goals.

“He came off late, and they (medical team) said he couldn’t go back on, but they were saying it is not as significant as Blicavs,” Scott said.

The Cats, also beaten in Brisbane last weekend, have a challenging run into September, with Port Adelaide (GMHBA Stadium) next Saturday, then Collingwood (MCG), St Kilda (Marvel Stadium) and the Western Bulldogs (GMHBA Stadium). In Saturday’s shock result in Geelong, Fremantle were victorious 10.11 (71) to 9.10 (64).

The bottom-four placed Dockers were relentless, and produced arguably their best performance of the season in the final term, highlighted by a stunning Michael Frederick goal on the run from the right forward pocket when he burnt off Tom Stewart. Ruckman Luke Jackson, whether it be in terms of tap outs or follow-up work, was superb. Wingman Liam Henry, yet to re-sign for next year, Luke Ryan, Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong provided run and toughness, while Pearce was arguably the best afield, with a career-high eight intercept marks.

Rebounding defenders Mitch Duncan and Tom Stewart had plenty of the ball for the Cats, Max Holmes ran hard, Tom Atkins was typically robust, while skipper Patrick Dangerfield had threatened to drag his team to victory with a direct hand in the Cats’ opening two goals of the final term.

However, contested ball remains an issue, while Jeremy Cameron’s wayward kicking for goal (1.5) hurt throughout the day. The champion forward hasn’t been at his best since he was concussed against Melbourne last month.

“He is not quite looking himself at the moment, but we are confident he will be able to turn that around really quickly,” Scott said.

Dangerfield addressed his team on the field immediately after the final siren, their hopes for back-to-back flags slipping away.

Battle royale

The battle between Dockers forward Lachie Schultz and Cats’ gatekeeper Stewart was fascinating. The Cats generate so much run from their attacking half-back, who prefers to play off his man. The Dockers looked to play through Schultz as often as possible, making Stewart accountable. Each man was busy in the first term, Stewart with 11 disposals, Schultz with six. As the afternoon unfolded, Stewart shaped as having the greater influence, but Schultz’ final-quarter burst of two goals was huge.

Geelong Cats: Full injury update ahead of round 19 clash with Brisbane |  Geelong Advertiser

New tricks

Tyson Stengle’s tackle on Pearce in the first term was a sign players have adjusted to avoiding unnecessary dangerous tackles. Pearce had marked but quickly stepped off his line, sparking Stengle to pounce. Where some players would have attempted to take Pearce to ground, Stengle pinned his opponent’s arms, and the ball spilled out, giving the Cat an easy set shot for goal.

Start your engines

The Dockers have had several worries this season, including a horror record in first terms, having won only two of 18 first quarters heading into this game. That became two of 19 after they were goalless at the first break – but it did not matter, for they emerged victorious from Geelong for the second time in as many seasons. Their dazzling second term with three quick goals provided momentum. Michael Walters got the ball rolling, the Dockers exposing the Cats’ weakness when their attacking defenders, including Duncan, are high in defence, and have to turn and chase the ball. The Dockers, using the breeze to their benefit, led by a point at the main break, with Ryan explaining the plan was to kick the ball deep.

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