“We didn’t pressure the scoreboard and that cost us in the first quarter,” Nicks said.
Geelong’s seven-goal win was not unexpected, as Adelaide had lost 11 games at the GMHBA Stadium since their most recent win at the venue in 2003.
They had lost their last four games, and they were without their top two goalkickers Taylor Walker and Josh Rachele.
So they had to take their chances to stay in the game long enough to give themselves a chance to take a upset win.
They started the game with six straight backs, missed four set shots and any chance they had of taking on a challenge seemed lost.
Geelong took the time to wind themselves up when they introduced first-game player Shannon Neale and added him to a team that had less than 3,000 games combined experience for the second time this year.
But when they got into top gear with Stewart in the middle of the second quarter, they created a gap between them and the Crows, which proved enough to hold them off. A nip from Ty Stengle followed by a few clearances from skipper Joel Selwood and Tom Atkins saw them kick the margin to 28 points at halftime.
That pair was outstanding to finish the game with 30 tackles in between, with the revitalized Atkins scoring a career-high 17 tackles.
The Crows didn’t give up and lifted early in the third quarter, with Reilly O’Brien taking the lead in the ruck and their attackers suddenly rewarding the on-ballers’ dominance throughout the game. The Crows kicked four consecutive goals to tie within eight points.
At that point, they rattled Geelong as they got numbers around the match and hit targets within 50. Once the moment came, however, it was gone with the Cats getting the ball inside 50, where Gryan Miers scored from the congestion to get the Cats back on track by kicking six unanswered goals.
As has often happened at Kardinia Park, the last quarter of an hour party was thrown open and the dance floor packed as Geelong extended their lead and first gamer Neale set out to score a goal on the debut.
She failed to do so, despite Tom Hawkins going out of his way to find Neale as if he invited him to a party full of strangers, but Neale’s time will come as he has athleticism and a jump.
The Cats face a tougher test this Friday night against the Western Bulldogs as they battle for a top four spot with Gary Rohan returning, while Nicks said his team continued their journey with the devastated group of wins that remained elusive.
“They can squeeze these games and win these games, but we can’t pull it off right now. It’s a pretty tough road, but they’re holding up well,” Nicks said.
GEELONG 2.4 8.5 11.5 15.7 (97)
ADELAIDE 0.6 3.7 6.11 7.13 (55)
Goals: Geelong: Cameron 4, Miers 3. Stengle 3, Hawkins 2, Selwood, Tuohy, Close. Adelaide: Fogarty 3, McAdam, Soligo, Keays, McHenry
Best: Geelong: Stewart, Cameron, Atkins, Selwood, Cam Guthrie, Miers. Adelaide: O’Brien, Laird, Keays, Hately
Injuries: Geelong: Nil Adelaide: Butts (concussion), Murphy (nose)