Zach Tuohy was full of praise for his younger teammates as the Cats sounded an ominous warning to the rest of the competition heading into the bye, disposing of a persistent Bulldogs outfit by 13 points at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

The Cats burst out of the blocks, laying on seven first-quarter goals and forcing the Dogs to play catch up early, but after defender Tom Stewart was subbed out with concussion in the second term, catch-up is exactly what they did.

Geelong was held goalless for the next 80 minutes of football as the Dogs chipped away at the lead, but in a performance Tuohy said was full of ‘guts and character’ the Cats were able to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length for the rest of the game, powered by another six-goal bag for Jeremy Cameron.  

But while the Darty Party threatened to blow the lid of Marvel at different times, it was the Geelong defence, led by another eyebrow-raising performance by 19-year-old Sam De Koning, and in the absence of their leading man in Stewart, that caught the Irishmen’s eye.

“[De Koning] is a super special player,” he told 3AW Football after the game.

“Honestly, he’s playing like one of the best key backs in the game right now, much less one of the best young players in the game and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves when they’re handing out some of those young player awards, he was unbelievable tonight.

“Obviously Jezz (Cameron) will get a lot of the credit, and rightly so but I think – and Zach Guthrie is the other one – they just fly under the radar.

“The two of them were absolutely amazing tonight.”

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Team Song: Geelong

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Guthrie rose to the occasion in Stewarts' absence, collecting 19 touches and taking 11 marks, including nine intercepts, while De Koning held Bulldog spearhead Aaron Naughton to just the one goal.

But in an at times spicy contest, Tuohy was caught in a scuffle with Bailey Smith which saw the young Dog reported for headbutting, but asked about it after the game, he said there wasn’t much to it.

“Emotions got the better of both of us, I was pulling and dragging on him as much as he was me,” he said.

“I’m fine.. maybe I’ll stick him on Instagram and tag him and maybe get some followers.”