Eastern Ranges conquer premiership favourites

It was a game that pitted the two best, albeit understrength teams against each other that was expected to be a beauty. Geelong, arguably the powerhouse team of this year’s TAC Cup competition and at home at Simmonds Stadium was facing off against the second placed Eastern Ranges, missing its two key players, spearhead Tom Boyd and inside midfielder Ben Cavarra. It turned out to be a complete annihilation for the latter as the likes of Christian Petracca and Matthew Traynor destroyed the normally clinical Falcons.

It is not just the fact that Eastern Ranges defeated Geelong, but more the margin of the defeat, which is so surprising. Eastern thumped Geelong by a massive 108 points, kicking 20.9.129 to 2.9.21. No side has come close to kicking twenty goals against a stingy Falcons outfit, yet Eastern Ranges had 29 scoring shots to 11 in a complete domination of a club that has dominated all season.

Unsurprisingly the Falcons led at the first change, holding Eastern Ranges goalless. But from then on it was all Eastern Ranges. The game remained relatively close until half time, with Eastern Ranges ending the half having kicked six goals to Geelong’s two, and leading by 24 points. It was in the second half that the game split open, with Eastern Range kicking 8.1 to Geelong’s 0.1 in the third term, and 6.1 to 0.1 in the fourth term. You’re not misreading that, Eastern Ranges booted 14 goals to just two behinds in a complete annihilation of a club that is expected to hold the trophy aloft this year.

With both teams missing key players to Vic Country and Vic Metro duties, it was the turn of the lesser lights to step up. In the absence of partner-in-crime Boyd, Eastern forward Christian Petracca had a day out against the Falcons, kicking 6.2 and amassing 22 disposals, whilst Matthew Traynor and Andreas Roth chimed in with 4.0 and 3.2 respectively. Midfielder Mitch Keedle also played well, collecting 21 disposals, five marks, two tackles, and a goal. Jordan Walker (23 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) and James Belo (20 disposals and five marks)

It would be an understatement to say it was a disappointing game for Geelong. Kody Spokes and Lachlan Devine were the sole goal kickers for the team on the day, and there was little contribution from other players. Midfielders Matt Boag (20 disposals, six tackles, 0.3) and Meyrick Buchanan (31 disposals, six tackles, three marks) were amongst the best, and tried hard all day, but ultimately lacked contribution from other Geelong players.

Geelong’s list of missing players include Lewis Taylor, James Tsitas, Darcy Gardiner, Nic Bourke, Fraser Fort and Darcy Lang amongst others, leaving the work to too few.

Both teams will be better for the return of their star players in coming rounds, with Eastern to regain Boyd and Cavarra, whilst Geelong will be bolstered by the inclusion of those named above and will be wanting a much better effort this weekend. The Falcons are a powerhouse at full strength and while they’ve given second placed Eastern Ranges a catch up, it will still be hard to see them drop out of first. What this match does show us that Eastern Ranges are not as Boyd-orientated as first thought and have a very dangerous forward line on any given day; something they must conquer with Boyd out after injuring his ankle for Vic Metro. One thing’s for certain, expect both this teams to be there when the whips are cracking in September.

Geelong Falcons 2.9 (21)
Eastern Ranges 20.9 (129)

GOALS
Geelong: Spokes, Devine
Eastern Ranges: C. Petracca (6), M. Traynor (4), A. Roth (3), C. Jones (2), C. McDougall (2), J. Walker, K. Staples, M. Keedle

BEST
Geelong: M. Buchanan, G. Cameron, A. Hickey, L. Davis, C. Floyd, K. Spokes
Eastern: J. Belo, J. Walker, C. Petracca, K. Staples, N. Evans, M. Keedle

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