Cats keep their flag mode

The Cats celebrate their win over Port Melbourne.
The Cats celebrate their win over Port Melbourne.

GEELONG has kept its symmetry in motion with a flag every five years in the competition since 2002 after running reigning premier Port Melbourne off its legs in a 33-point win in the VFL grand final at Etihad Stadium yesterday.

Some are comparing this list to the one that cantered to victory over Port Melbourne in 2002 - which included some premiership players who were standing in the rooms last night, such as Jimmy Bartel and Steve Johnson - or the one that dominated against Coburg in 2007.

But as Norm Goss medallist George Horlin-Smith said, it will take a few years to make a true assessment of what this group is capable of.

But it did take a formidable line-up to knock off Port Melbourne, which had lost only five matches this season after a 28-game winning streak stretching from 2010. It was the powerhouse but it held no fear for the Cats, who had beaten Port once this season.

The run and creativity of Horlin-Smith through the midfield, with 24 touches, was match-winning. Jordan Schroder curtailed Toby Pinwill's influence, while Simon Hogan was influential playing a defensive forward role on Sam Pleming.

Shane Kersten kicked three goals and George Burbury appeared to be much more dangerous than what his two goals represented.

"I guess it's easy to draw comparisons between 2002 and this year but we can't make claim for the success the club has had [in the AFL] over the last couple of years,'' Horlin-Smith said.

''It's up to us to create our own legacy I guess and try to push forward not only with VFL premierships but hopefully some more AFL premierships.

"It was a pretty high-intensity game today and Port Melbourne have got a fantastic midfield as well, it was a tight battle but we sort of expected that coming into a grand final."

In a match that had so many twists and turns - with eight lead changes - the Cats took control in the final term, where they had the chance to hurt the Borough much earlier than they did, had it not been for the amount of clangers inside the forward 50.

Trailing by six points at the last change, Port fancied its chances to over-run the Cats, given it had endured three previous tough finals hit-outs. Forward Dean Galea, who out-muscled opponent Ryan Bathie several times, kicked his fourth goal to level the game.

But it was from there that the Cats stepped up to a gear the Borough could never adhere to.

Dom Gleeson's goal on the run kick-started a run of five unanswered goals - albeit it never shut Port out because of some bad misses in front of goal. Fittingly, a goal from mature-age recruit Orren Stephenson, who won his fifth VFL premiership medal, sealed the match.

Cats VFL coach Matthew Knights, in his first season at the helm, said he never compromised winning for developing players at all throughout the season.

''We didn't compromise either for the whole year. As late as selection, we felt that we were playing guys in their best positions. We have had to continue to want to win like the AFL team has done and David's [Wojcinski] obviously been a big part of that over the last three or four years - that you're never beaten at Geelong. That will and desire to keep coming is starting to dig into the young players.''

Port coach Gary Ayres said the loss was a ''hard pill to swallow''. It was Port's third grand final in five years but it has managed to win only one of them - last year.

''You're just reflecting on what does it all mean. Their skill level was with far too much polish than ours," Ayres said.

This story Cats keep their flag mode first appeared on WA Today.