In what was always going to be massive test of Geelong‘s mettle against a equally pumped Geelong Rangers, it was a tragic own goal that put Geelong into next week’s Grand Final with a 3-2 win.
In what was a far too common theme for much of the season, Geelong again failed to take advantage of the gale blowing down Stead Park. But it was a moment of Lopez genius that would rival Jordan Rendevski’s strike against Lara for ”goal of the year” that opened the score card. Ten minutes into the half, the predatory Lopez from deep on the right wing spotted the keeper merely centimetres of his line and launched an audacious chip that sailed passed the out stretched fingers of the back pedalling keeper and into the back of the net. In the next half hour, a frustrated Coach Dean Brown and the Geelong faithful could only watch on as again the usual suspects (Jordan, Dylan, Stefan, Alberto, and Billy) all shot high or wide of the goal with time fast running out in the first half. A solo goal advantage was never going to be enough and it was just before the break that Rangers restored parity when their striker’s shot had Rhett Joy stranded in the centre of the goal.
Rangers went 2-1 up early in the second half with Rhett again wrong sided despite some good work earlier on. Geelong had battle hard and gained some ascendency as winds died down late in the second half. With hopes fading and under 10 minutes to play it was the heroic Tuan Nguyen that ran around two Rangers defenders to slot home with composure Geelong’s equalizer. Then came the heartbreak for the Rangers fans when their defender’s miscued clearance was driven deeper into the goal by another sliding defender. The resilient Geelong boys held off a clearly frustrated Rangers in the final minutes in spite of some crude tackles and the ref’s seemingly reluctance to blow the final whistle. It was pretty obvious that the Big Bomber enjoyed leading the rest of the team in singing the club theme song this week as Rangers were left lamenting what could have been.
Next Sunday’s 12th September Grand Final at Myers Reserve will kick off at 12.30 against Barwon Blue who upset Lara 2-1 in this week’s other semi-final.