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VFL: Clark bag sends Cats to victory

VFL: Best of Mitch Clark v Hawks Mitch Clark has a day out for the Cats VFL side
Mitch Clark led the way for the Cats with five goals
Mitch Clark led the way for the Cats with five goals

Geelong’s VFL side has made a triumphant return to the winners list on Sunday, upsetting Box Hill 18.10 (118) to 10.9 (69) at Simonds Stadium.

Despite the gap on the ladder between the eleventh placed Cats and the fifth placed hawks side, the young Bankers have shown positive signs over recent weeks and went in to the match with a strong chance of an upset.

The game started off like most would expect from a clash between the Cats and the Hawks, as both sides came out firing early.

After an arm wrestle in the first term, the Cats started to win the ball out of the centre in the second through some strong play from Padraig Lucey and Nathan Vardy.

The Cats forwards were as efficient as ever in the second term, kicking five consecutive goals, including three to Mitch Clark, to take a 21-point lead into the main break.

The pressure increased from both sides after half time and scoring was scarce with numerous behinds being kicked before Timm House broke the deadlock late in the third quarter.

The Hawks continued to push but the Cats were not about to let another match slip from their grasp and put the foot down in the final term.

The victory puts the Cats back on the winners list and gives Shane O’Bree’s side an improved chance of September action, now sitting at four wins and five losses.

After numerous close losses, coach Shane O’Bree was happy for his side to finally get some reward for their efforts.

“Today’s theme for us was just about taking those opportunities when we get them,” O’Bree said.

“We defended really well and got opportunities from that and rewarded ourselves with nice goals and nice attack from that so we’re very pleased with the boys.”

The Cats played arguably their best game as a team for the season and had many contributors in the big win.

“We had a good bunch of leaders out on the ground that kept everyone composed and positive and gained a lot of confidence from it,” O’Bree said.

After recovering from a knee injury, Josh Cowan returned to the VFL side not only got through the match unscathed, but was the leading possession winner on the ground with 33 touches.

“Fishy had been building nicely and had that little setback, kept chipping away and got it right after it looked pretty serious when he did it,” O’Bree said.

“He got back out on the park and today around the midfield he was quality, got his hands on it and got it forward for us, he was a lot more composed with the ball.”

Cowan was efficient in a strong Cats midfield with 20 contested possessions and ten clearances.

Following an extended stint in the AFL side, Darcy Lang also made his return to the VFL and had an excellent performance in the midfield and across half forward.

Lang’s pressure acts and elite level disposal were key factors in the win as he finished with 24 touches and seven inside 50s.

Another Cat on the verge of an AFL return is Mitch Clark, the key forward has been in excellent form since returning from injury and is pushing hard for a senior recall.

Clark kicked five goals from 18 disposals and took an impressive 11 marks.

“With how good a mark (Clark) is, to get him isolated, he can do those things like he did today for us and he kicked those goals which is reward for effort,” O’Bree said.

“His attitude has been great in the way he has been teaching the boys and even helping the coaches out, he is an extra coach out on the ground.”

Another tall Cat, Nathan Vardy, looks to be prospering from having Clark along side him as he looks to have regained his confidence.

“(Vardy) has been building and been working his butt off in all aspects of his game, he has been rucking well for us,” O’Bree said.

Vardy played predominantly in the ruck, collecting 24 hitouts, five clearances and six marks

Despite playing a full match for GFL side St. Marys on the Saturday, Sam Dobson showed no signs of fatigue as he was dangerous up forward, kicking two goals.

The Bankers will look to continue their strong form when they face Williamstown next Sunday.

VFL Round 11 – Bendigo Bank Cats 18.10 (118) def. Box Hill Hawks 10.9 (69)

Goals: Clark 5, House 3, Dobson 2, Atkins 2, Lucey, Lang, McLachlan, Williams, Parsons

Best: Cowan, Clark, Lucey, Menegola, Luxford, House

Injuries: Nil

Reports: Nil

@Simonds Stadium, Geelong.

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