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VFL: Cats come from behind

The Cats celebrate a great win
The Cats celebrate a great win

Geelong’s VFL side has ended their five-match losing streak in style, defeating North Ballarat at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. The Cats fought hard to earn the four points over the North Melbourne affiliate, 15.12 (102) to 14.9 (93).

The Cats came out firing early and two goals to Simon Close had the home side in the box seat. But missed tackles and an inability to capitalize in front of goal by the home side caused a five-goal burst from the Roosters, taking the wind out of Geelong’s sail.

The change of ends sparked some life into the Cats as they piled on four goals to two in the second term to reduce the margin to six points at the main break. The pace of the young Cats was a key factor in their resurgence back into the contest.

The third term was a seesawing affair with both sides having chances to kick away. The visitors got out to a three-goal lead but the Cats were relentless and managed to go into the final break six points down.

The Roosters burst out of the blocks in the final term, kicking a couple of goals within the first three minutes. But the Cats were able to claw back the lead and hit the front with two minutes to go through. Daniel Gibbs kicked the sealer for the Cats as the home side ran out nine-point victors.

The win was a long time coming for the Cats after five consecutive losses and coach Paul Hood was impressed with his side’s endeavor to get over the line after being down at numerous stages throughout the match.

“Our guys have done so much work, I just felt that they deserved to win,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic credit to them and a great lesson for the rest of their footy careers that you’re never beaten if you put the work in.”

After dictating the play and coming up short in games against Williamstown and Port Melbourne this year, the Cats were able to redeem themselves by winning the game on Saturday without controlling the contest for the majority of the day.

The Roosters won on the stats sheet with considerably more disposals, tackles and clearances but Hood believes his side were still deserving of the four points.

“We feel like we pinched it, but we were due to pinch one. Footy works that way.

“We set the team up with some really good midfield depth. We hoped to be able to run out the game well and that’s what happened,” Hood said.

Padraig Lucey played arguably his best game for the Cats with nine possessions, 32 hitouts and a goal. Lucey prospered playing as the lone ruckman and gave the midfielders first use all day.

“Padraig really has wanted that responsibility for a while. He really embraced it today and took it on and tried his best to lead the team,” Hood said.

“He was involved at the stoppages all day, he had a really clear role to play to negate his opponent as well as create for the team and I thought he battled physically and worked really well.”

Michael Luxford was also impressive in his VFL return, collecting 28 possessions and kicking a valuable goal.

Whilst the game was won through a solid team effort, Sam Blease was the man who put the Cats in front in the final moments with a clutch set shot.

Whilst many at the ground were unsure of the former Demon’s set shot ability, Hood and the rest of the coaches box had complete faith Blease would kick the goal.

“The boys do a lot of practice, obviously they get nervous but it’s great for Sam to have a really important moment like that,” Hood said.

For the visitors, North Ballarat’s Aaron Black looked dangerous early with six shots on goal in the first half, before the Cats managed to find a way to nullify his influence.

Cameron Tudor and Fraser Fort, two VFL listed players, rotated on Black and kept him to five touches and a solitary behind after the main break, a big reason for the Cats’ scoreboard turnaround.

“Aaron Black was going to be a really threatening player. His ability to lead up is really good and he’s going to be a really dominant VFL player if we’d let him do that.

“When they got the opportunity to stick tight to him and contest, both Cam and Fraser did a great job,” Hood said.

Despite the injury list hurting the VFL side at the moment, the Cats are likely to welcome back a few familiar faces in the coming weeks. The likes of Dawson Simpson, Billie Smedts and George-Horlin Smith are all chances to be back playing soon.

“With the bye the week after, we probably are on the conservative side if any of the guys are borderline but if they are ready to play, then those guys will,” Hood said.

The Cats will take on Coburg next Saturday in round 10 of the VFL fixture.

 

Senior Cats:

Nakia Cockatoo – 11 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal.

Jarrad Jansen – 14 disposals, five tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s

Sam Blease – 15 disposals, six clearances and a goal

 

Rookie Cats:

Padraig Lucey – nine disposals, 32 hitouts and a goal

Michael Luxford – 28 disposals and a goal

Zac Bates – 7 disposals, two clearances, two rebound 50s.

 

Geelong VFL 15.12 102 def North Ballarat 14.9 93

Goals: Close 3, Maas 2, Paliouras, Blease, Cockatoo, Gibbs, Lucey, Luxford, McFarlane, Raidme, Rees, Sheringham

Best: Lucey, Jansen, Close, Burchell, McFarlane, Tudor

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Nil

@ Simonds Stadium

 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs