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Cats bounce back

Ben Guthrie - AFL Media  May 19, 2017 10:48 PM

Highlights: Cats v Bulldogs The Cats and Bulldogs clash in round nine
Harry Taylor was on fire with five goals

Harry Taylor was on fire with five goals

GEELONG has withstood a barnstorming second-half comeback from the Western Bulldogs to snap a three-game losing streak and claim a desperately needed 23-point win in a thrilling game at Simonds Stadium on Friday night.

Needing a victory to recalibrate a season that was fast detouring off course, the Cats responded to a week of scrutiny with vigour and zeal to hold off the fast-finishing Bulldogs, 16.8 (104) to 12.9 (81)

Challenged to lift its physicality after a "disgraceful" tackling effort against Essendon last week, Geelong's players signalled their intent against the Dogs by laying 28 tackles in the first quarter alone.

The Cats eventually finished with 134 tackles to the Bulldogs' 104, as they built their win around pressure and resilience.

Despite playing with sore ribs, Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield returned to his brilliant best, racking up a game-high 36 disposals, 12 tackles, 10 clearances and booting four goals.

Cats skipper Joel Selwood (29 touches and 11 clearances) epitomised the Cats' steely attitude, willing himself from contest to contest, while younger brother Scott Selwood (17 disposals and 17 tackles) was equally committed in his first game of the season following a toe injury.

The much-scutinised move of Harry Taylor to the forward line finally paid dividends, with the defender booting five goals.

The new Charles Brownlow Stand. Picture: AFL Photos

For the first half at least, the Cats played with a spirit and relentlessness they have not possessed so far this season, with their pressure around the ball and much sounder defensive structures (they yielded just four inside 50s in the second term) creating a 26-point half-time lead.

"Our challenge every week as professionals should be to treat every game and every contest in isolation," Cats coach Chris Scott said.

"It's pretty simple, the superficial part, if you're not close enough you can't get them

"If we had sat so far off the contest or as far off the contest as we did the previous week in particular, they would have cut a swathe through us."

Five talking points: Geelong v Western Bulldogs

After a first half they would rather forget, the Bulldogs stormed back into the contest by kicking six goals to Geelong's one in the third term and snatched a nine-point lead at three-quarter time.

Returning from a horrific broken leg suffered in round 18 last season, Bulldogs midfielder Mitch Wallis was outstanding during the Cats' first-half onslaught and in his side's second-half revival.

The tough onballer finished with 26 disposals and two goals, both of which came as the Bulldogs charged back into the game in the third term.

Unsighted in the first half, tall forward Jack Redpath also came to life by kicking two important majors in the third term, while Jason Johannisen's drive from half-back, as the Bulldogs' defenders began to intercept the footy higher up the ground, proved crucial.

SHOWREEL: Cats' tackling masterclass

Caleb Daniel (28 disposals) and Bob Murphy (25 touches) were also strong contributors for the Dogs.

Coach Luke Beveridge was in no doubt his team let one slip after valiantly fighting back into the contest.

"They (Geelong) came with a healthy and stealthy mindset. It felt like we matched them for most of the game," Beveridge said.

"We were almost there. When we had the upper hand and the arm-wrestle was in our favour we should have gone on with it."

With the Cats unveiling their $91 million Charles Brownlow Stand the Geelong-strong crowd found their voice in the final quarter and they urged their team home to a crucial victory.

Fittingly, Cats heroes Taylor and Dangerfield finished with the final goals of the game, as Geelong proved that it is not a spent force. 

 The Cats were down to three players on the bench after quarter-time when youngster Nakia Cockatoo came off with a hamstring injury. Cockatoo will be assessed during the week but is likely to miss a number of weeks. Steven Motlop appeared to dislocate his finger and had to have it put back in by club doctor Drew Slimmon. Cameron Guthrie was a late withdrawal due to illness but should be right to return against the Power next Thursday night.

Western Bulldogs: Easton Wood seemed to favour his right shoulder early in the contest but the star defender played the game out and was not noticeably limited thereafter. 

Next Up: The Cats front up against Port Adelaide next Thursday night for their second of three consecutive matches at Simonds Stadium. At 5-4, the Bulldogs' game against St Kilda next Saturday becomes crucial in the context of their season.

GEELONG                   3.0   8.5   9.5   16.8 (104)
WESTERN BULLDOGS  4.3   4.3   10.8   12.9 (81)

Geelong: Taylor 5, Dangerfield 4, Menzel 2, Blicavs, Tuohy, Hawkins, J.Selwood, S.Selwood
Western Bulldogs: Smith 2, Redpath 2, Wallis 2, Dickson 2, Boyd 2, Webb, Cloke 

Geelong: Dangerfield, J.Selwood, Duncan, S.Selwood, Stewart, Taylor, Tuohy, Smith
Western Bulldogs: Wallis, Daniel, Jong, Murphy, Macrae, Dale

Geelong: Jordan Murdoch replaced Cam Guthrie (illness) in the selected side. Cockatoo (hamstring), Motlop (finger)
Western Bulldogs: Easton Wood (shoulder) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Williamson, Jeffery, McInerney

Official crowd: 30,275 at Simonds Stadium