Paul Chapman kicked a match-high three goals and was named the game's most valuable player as Geelong won their second Australian Rules football title in three years, beating St Kilda 80-68 yesterday. Playing before 99,251 fans in rainy conditions and on a soggy pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Cats, from an industrial port city about an hour south west of Melbourne, overcame a seven-point deficit after three quarters and prevented the Saints from scoring a goal in the final quarter.
St Kilda, who had the best regular-season record in the Australian Football League this year, were attempting to win their second league title, having won the trophy in 1966. Geelong won the AFL title in 2007 before losing last year's championship match to Hawthorn. The team has eight titles overall. Max Rooke, the Cats forward, clinched the victory with a goal after the final siren, with the end margin of 12 points the biggest that had separated the two teams all day.
"We were very, very lucky and we're very proud of what we've done," said the Geelong coach, Mark Thompson after his side kicked the only three goals of the final quarter. Nick Riewoldt, the St Kilda captain, apologised to the team's fans, whose wait for a second AFL premiership will extend beyond 43 years. "It's been a long time, and we gave it our best this year," he said. "Just remember how much this hurts, bottle it and use it to motivate you."
Chapman kicked the match-winner from inside 50 meters en-route to capturing the Norm Smith Medal as the most valuable player. "People have counted us out all year, but we've bounced back and we really deserved this," Chapman said. * Reuters