While it wasn’t a highlight ridden goal-fest, the Cats win over Melbourne was one built on grit, patience and a lot of chipping the ball around. Here are the things that caught our eye at the MCG.
The wild man of the MCG
A lot of attention has gone onto the hairstyles of returning AFL footballers but the dedication that Cam Guthrie has put into his beard and dreadlocks is next level. But it wasn’t just Guthrie’s follicles that caught the eye of observers at the MCG, with the gutsy midfielder one of the Cats hardest working players for the day. Guthrie racked up 24 disposals, 10 marks, three clearances and kicked a goal in an impressive display. And potentially gained a new nickname as well with Channel 7’s Hamish McLachlan labelling him “The Backpacker” following his one-handed grab and goal.
We need a fit Parfitt
The football world took notice back in round two when Brandan Parfitt put on a near best-on-ground performance against the Hawks. However, Parfitt succumbed to hamstring tightness the following week and missed the Cats shock loss to the Blues. The Cats loss was punctuated by a lack of pressure that Parfitt and Luke Dahlhaus, who was concussed in the first quarter, would normally bring. Both were back to their best on Sunday, but it was Parfitt who again showed the pressure that’s needed in 2020. His nine tackles and 24 pressure acts were both game high and his ability to pounce on an opponent from contested situations was integral to the Cats win.
The Misfits get redemption
Matthew Scarlett’s defensive unit were left stinging after the Carlton forwards marked at will and made the Cats much vaunted backline look flat footed and reactive. From the first bounce on Sunday the Cats defenders looked back to their best and it was Jack Henry who led from the front for the Cats. The athletic defender was relentless with his attack on the ball and his maturing frame was doing its share of damage including to Melbourne forward Tom McDonald who felt the full brunt of Henry’s attack. By the end of the game, Henry had affected nine spoils and five tackles onto the Demons and provided four rebounds from 50 in a terrific all-round effort.
When in Rome
Much has been made of the Cats record at the MCG following performances not up to the standard of their football at GMHBA Stadium. The Cats first trip to the MCG for 2020 brought a distinct style of football with it that. A focus on retaining possession and trying to pick holes in the Demons’ full ground defensive structure was evident with the Cats finishing +47 possessions, +57 for kicks and +60 for marks. The Demons struggled to win the ball back from the Cats who produced 10 less turnovers than last week’s loss to Carlton. Whilst not attractive at times, the Cats showed they were able to defend the wider expanses of the MCG against a dynamic and free flowing side.