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Five talking points: Geelong Cats v Western Bulldogs

Peter Ryan (AFL Media)   May 19, 2017 11:23 PM

AFL 2017 Round 09 - Geelong v Western Bulldogs

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19: Luke Dahlhaus of the Bulldogs handpasses the ball ahead of Scott Selwood of the Cats during the 2017 AFL round 09 match between the Geelong Cats and the Western Bulldogs at Simonds Stadium on May 19, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

1. Geelong tackles its big problem
After being lambasted all week for laying just 14 tackles in the first half against Essendon, the Cats hit hard early. Their first goal came from a free kick to Patrick Dangerfield – who was outstanding early – after he laid a big tackle. By quarter-time they had recorded 28 tackles and had restored some respectability. The Cats finished the game with a club record 134 tackles, 94 more than the week before. Scott Selwood laid 10 tackles in the first half and Dangerfield recorded nine, keeping the Bulldogs scoreless in the second quarter and restricting them to just four inside 50s for the term. The Cats' 71 tackles in the first half was the third most tackles recorded in a half of football. Mitch Duncan finished with a career high 18 tackles as did Scott Selwood with 17. It was a brilliant response and a turnaround for the ages. 

2. Finally, Harry looks like a Taylor-made forward
It has been one of the most talked about moves of the season but the idea of playing Harry Taylor forward looked over. However, with Lachie Henderson returning, Taylor went back inside the forward 50 and in the second quarter he delivered. He kicked three goals (and could have had four) in the quarter, kicking set shots and finding himself attacking the ball in the air. At the 10-minute mark of the last quarter with the game on the line, he laid a brilliant tackle on Marcus Adams to earn a free kick and goal. He then kicked the sealer.

3. Comeback Dogs again pull no punches
The Bulldogs could not get the ball inside 50 in the second quarter but that all changed from the five-minute mark of the third term. At that point, the Cats were 31 points up and purring. However Sam Menegola dropped a simple mark that allowed Jack Redpath to kick the Bulldogs’ first score since the 27-minute mark of the first quarter. The Bulldogs banged on six unanswered goals to eclipse the margin in 16 minutes and sail past the Cats with goals from all angles. It was the seventh third quarter the Bulldogs have won this season as they once again overhauled a half-time lead. However, they could not sustain it, kicking two goals to Geelong's seven in the final quarter.

4. Worth the wait for Mitch
Mitch Wallis was dominant in the VFL as soon as he returned from a badly broken leg, suffered against St Kilda in round 18, 2016. But coach Luke Beveridge held him back, resisting the temptation to rush him back in and he played three VFL games before being selected to take on Geelong. He was outstanding and influential, with a third quarter that helped the Bulldogs with seven touches and two goals. He ended the game with 26 disposals, including six tackles and 20 contested possessions. Dangerfield was at his brilliant best, finishing with 36 disposals, 12 tackles and four goals to put in a display that reminded everyone of his status as a champion. 

5. Cats honour new stand with the right stuff
At a cost of $91million, the latest stage of the Simonds Stadium redevelopment opened on Friday night when the Charles Brownlow Stand was christened. But all the action happened in front of the Players Stand with 22 of the 28 goals kicked at that end. The Cats recorded 37 of their 54 inside 50s at that end of the ground and the Western Bulldogs recorded 29 of its 48 inside 50s up that end. But it was the new stand's night, increasing the capacity of Simonds Stadium to 36,000 and housing a state of the art football department that will have the Cats wanting for nothing. With just one stage remaining to be developed Geelong boasts the best regional stadium in the country. The Cats want nine home games and to host any finals it earns the right to host, and will lobby hard to make that happen. Once capacity rises to 40,000 when stage five is completed it will be impossible to deny the club that right.