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VFL: Cats annihilate Casey

Paul Chapman had a successful return to VFL action
Paul Chapman had a successful return to VFL action
A decisive victory in the top of the table clash between Geelong and Casey has all but secured Geelong a top two finish for the 2013 VFL season, thumping the Scorpions by eleven goals in wet and wild conditions at Casey Fields on Sunday.

Another big haul to forward Shane Kersten (five goals), inspirational efforts from Ben Raidme, Mark Corrigan, Jesse Stringer and Jordan Schroder, as well as the successful returns of Allen Christensen and Paul Chapman from injury capped off a stellar day for the Cats, romping home; 19.11 (125) def Casey: 8.11 (59).

The Cats now stand head and shoulders above the competition, a full three wins and twenty percentage points clear of second placed Casey, with Williamstown, Port Melbourne and Bendigo matches still to come.

The Cats continue to power through the competition despite losing key players Dom Gleeson, Jaxson Barham, Josh Cowan and captain Troy Selwood all rested due to general soreness this week, while Trent West was elevated to the AFL squad.

Incoming for West was stalwart ruckman Andrew Banjanin who once again controlled the ruck with a deft hand, winning more than twice the hitouts as his opposite Luke Hill, and giving the Cats the first use they needed to take control of the stoppages.

The Cats went into the first change down by three points in a tight opening term.

Casey were hot around the stoppages and had clean hands inside 50 scoring easily from set shots. The Cats were freakishly accurate when they did manage to go inside 50, scoring four goals from four inside 50’s in the first.

Come the second quarter and the Cats turned the game on its head, dominating clearances and making good use of their possessions to press forward and apply their trademark ‘forward pressure’ to keep it there.

Kersten added two more to his pair in the first to have four goals to half time, while the Cats collectively piled on 6.3 to Casey’s one behind.

It took the Cats until halfway through the second quarter to register their first behind, after slotting eight straight goals.

At halftime the heavens opened up, and the Cats looked to be able to comfortably defend their 35 point lead, even though Casey were throwing themselves at the contest.

Paul Chapman ignited the Cats fans in the third term with a scintillating goal from no mans land, just inside the arc on the boundary.

Christensen had been awarded a free kick for a high tackle, immediately spotting up Chapman running past into space where Chappy steadied, calmly booting the sherrin through the middle with little fuss in very trying conditions.

That the Cats managed to all but match their ten goal first half with nine in the second after the rains fell is testament to their ability to keep pressure on the opposition no matter the conditions.

Coach Matthew Knights thought the outing was a good starting point to kick start Chapman's AFL selection campaign.

“His inside work was good, his outside running and spread  got better as the game went on and his disposal was excellent as Chappy's disposal always is” Knights said.

Chapman was given a distance cap rather than a game time cap in his return match, clocking up ten to eleven kilometers.

Working hard in the trenches alongside Chapman was the gutsy Jesse Stringer, who provided the spark for the Cats after a close opening term.

“I thought in the first quarter Casey was on top of us” Knights said.

“They were winning the inside ball and going inside 50 really quickly”.

“I thought Stringers impetus around the clinches in the second quarter was outstanding and he probably got us going a bit, I felt. He started to run hard on the outside and drive it inside 50. Some of his efforts were the catalyst to get us going”.

For the second week in a row, the Cats high intensity forward pressure was on display, locking the ball deep in their forward line and strangling the opposition of quick rebound scoring potential.

According to Knights the Cats really worked hard at it after the first quarter.

“We certainly knuckled down in the last three (quarters)” he said.

“I think it is critical for all good football teams  to have good forward pressure. That pressure just allows the mids and defenders to get into reasonable position behind the ball, so it is a big part of our game”.

In defence the lads had their work cut out managing the first year sensation that is Jesse Hogan. Mitch Brown was given the direct match up, and overall did a fantastic job to keep Hogan to eight touches, seven marks and two goals despite some good delivery into the Casey forward line at times.

“Hogan got away early- I thought Rivers and Brown took twenty, thirty minutes to get their positioning right on him” Knights assessed.

“After that Browny and Riv cut the angles right, the pressure in the midfield was good. They did a good job on Hogan after the first quarter”.

Perhaps the quiet achiever of the day however was ruckman Andrew Banjanin, who after four weeks on the sidelines returned to the squad in fine form.

“Banjo was really eager to get back in the team, I was eager to get him back in the team, as it is difficult when you are out of the team for a long period of time” said Knights.

“I thought he got better as the day went on (after a 4 week absence), his ruck work in the second half was outstanding”.

With Dawson Simpson on the injury list, and Blicavs, Vardy and West holding spots in the AFL side, Banjanin looks to be ready to play a central role to the Cats late year and finals success.

VFL - Bendigo Bank Cats 19-11-(125) def. Casey Scorpions 8-11-(59).
Goals: Kersten 5, Walker, Murdoch, Hartman 2, Christensen, Chapman, Thurlow, Stringer, Bathie, Hollmer, Corrigan, Howe.
Best: Murdoch, Kersten, Walker, Stringer, Bews, Brown, Corrigan, Sully.
Injuries: Nil. Reports: Nil. @ Casey Fields, Cranbourne.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs