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VFL: Cats suffer first loss

The Cats went down to the Pies for their first VFL loss in 2013
The Cats went down to the Pies for their first VFL loss in 2013
The Bendigo Bank Cats dream start to the season came to a close on Saturday, unable to
answer the determined Collingwood challenge thrown down at the Magpies home fortress of Victoria Park.

The thirteen point loss was a hotly contested encounter from start to finish with the
scores tied on four occasions as neither side could manage a knockout blow on the scoreboard. With a goal or less the difference at each break it was anyone's game, the Cats starting each quarter strongly but giving up advantages towards the end of quarters.

It was the Magpies ability to outhunt the Cats when bringing the ball to ground level
and win the contested possessions that proved to be the difference, Collingwood: 18.12 (120) defeated Geelong: 16.11 (107).

Collingwood’s domination of the contested ball (hard ball gets Geelong: 62, Collingwood:
94) and center clearances (Geelong:25, Collingwood: 37) placed the Cats under strain in the midfield and in defence, with the Magpies scoring 10.8 off turnovers. Without Captain Troy Selwood (back) and contested ball specialist Jordan Schroder (AFL) the Cats
midfield had a major battle on its hands.

With the battle raging fierce in the middle the forwards found the going tough as clean
inside 50 entries were at a premium. Time and again the Cats delivery into attack fell short or passed overhead into the arms of Collingwood defenders.

Mitch Brown provided a major lift to the Cats in the third term taking big contested
grabs and booting three goals. The first fifteen minutes of the third looked like the Cats were going to roll home over the Magpies as the big men began to find their feet. With Brown firing in front of goal, and Kersten, Vardy and Walker all lining up for
huge contested marks, the Cats began to look like they were staging their usual second half annihilation to propel a two goal deficit to a two goal lead.

The Magpies were able to stem the bleeding however and take a one point lead into the
final change, lead by Ben Moloney, Kyle Martin and Alan Didak. Moloney and Martin were unstoppable in the clearances racking up twenty one between them, and Didak became a force to be reckoned with managing twelve touches after half time.

The final quarter was a misery for the Cats, out scored two goals to four as the vocal
Magpie army cheered their chargers home. Speedster Daniel Gibbs gave the Cats a head start opening the fourth quarter with a blistering burst of speed into open goal, but from there on it was all black and white. They managed four unanswered goals, until the
dying minutes when Jordan Murdoch sharked a heavily contested goal, steadying the Cats.

It may have been enough to spark a turnaround, but unfortunately for the Cats faithful
the siren was all too near and cut off any hopes of a last minute comeback.

Coach Matthew Knights was philosophical about the Cats first loss of the season.

“To (Collingwoods) credit I thought they played really good over the four quarters. I
thought they were really fierce in the contest and their clearances were good, Jackson Paine did a good job for them up forward” he said.

“I think all in all we didn't play as well as we would like but Collingwood did play
some good footy today. A well earned win by them I would have thought”.

The Cats were beaten on inside 50 count, 47 to 54, and Knights believes the quality could
improve.

“Certainly some of our delivery into our forward line wasn’t the best ...left a bit to
be desired at times” he said.

Good news for the Cats came in the form of Dawson Simpson, who managed the bulk of the
ruck duties against former AFL big man Ben Hudson and came out on top, winning 37 hitouts to Hudsons 25.

“It is really good for Dawsons match fitness” Knights said

“it is his second game back after a long time and he is going to get better and better
as the year goes on”.

As for the rest of the week, the Cats must prepare for another big match, this time taking
on 6th placed Casey Scorpions at Simonds Stadium on Sunday the 26th of May at 1pm.

Knights assures the fans the boys will be well prepared by this weeks loss.

“We went into the bye in a rich vein of form, and we certainly haven’t come out in the
same form we left with. It is up to us now to get out on the training track and address that this week” he said.

The Cats remain on top of the VFL ladder despite the narrow loss, two points clear of
last year's Grand Finalists Port Melbourne.

Collingwood 18.12 (120) def Bendigo Bank Cats: 16.11 (107)
Goals: Brown 4, Kersten 3, Murdoch 2, Hartman, Eardley, Bathie, Burbury, Corrigan, Gibbs,
McFarlane.
Best: Sully, Corrigan, Brown, Murdoch, Gleeson, Simpson, Gribble.
Injuries: Nil
Reports: Nil
@Victoria Park
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs