Cooper Whyte in action for the Bendigo Bank Cats. Photo taken by Arj Giese.

The VFL Cats have registered the first drawn game of the 2023 VFL season, after an entertaining clash with Richmond on Saturday. 

Geelong entered the round eight clash with their youngest line-up of the season, fielding just seven AFL-listed players after numerous Cats earned their chance with the Geelong AFL team.  

But the lack of AFL experience opened the door for other players to thrive, and coach Mark Corrigan executed a number of brilliant changes throughout the game. 

Brother’s Jye and Kade Chalcraft lead a new-look Geelong midfield with a pair of incredible performances, while young guns Marcus Herbert and Mace Cousins provided Geelong an important spark across half-back. 

The Cats opened with one of their best quarters of the season, taking an eight-point lead into the opening break. 

Geelong’s physicality in and around the contest was off the charts early, applying sensational pressure to restrict Richmond’s ball movement heading forward. 

Tanner Lewis made a statement early in his return, taking an impressive contested mark before converting the set-shot to open the Cats account. 

Tom Panuccio snapped an opportunistic goal, before Jye Chalcraft capped off a brilliant opening term with a late major, to give Geelong a handy buffer at the first change.  

The Cats had to withstand a strong challenge from Richmond throughout the second quarter, but responded well to maintain a slender two-point lead into the main break. 

Geelong dominated the middle of the ground in the opening half, winning the clearance battle 25 to 11 in a drastic improvement from their clash with Southport last weekend. 

Phoenix Foster responded after a quiet opening term, taking a spectacular mark and pumping through the set-shot from outside 50, before appropriately celebrating in front of the Richmond crowd. 

James Willis snapped a beauty from the boundary late in the second quarter, to regain the lead for the Cats heading into half-time.

The Cats dominated for large portions of the third term, before two late Richmond goals closed the margin back to 10-points at the final break.  

Tackling-machine Ted Clohesy was rewarded for his pressure early in the third term, winning a holding-the-ball free kick and calmy slotting the set-shot to give Geelong their first goal of the quarter. 

Panuccio and Chalcraft then added their second majors of the contest, giving Geelong a slight buffer heading into the final quarter.  

Geelong again had to hold firm in the last quarter, as Richmond threw everything at them to close the gap to just one-point with ten minutes to play.  

The Cats responded strongly, with Will Christie and Osca Riccardi slotting their first goals of the contest, pushing the lead back out to 13-points.  

But Richmond mounted one more challenge, kicking two quick goals to level the game at the 27-minute mark. 

Ben Lloyd intercepted the ball 40-metres out as the final siren sounded, but his shot to win the game fell agonisingly short and Geelong were left to share the four-point with the Tigers. 

Jye Chalcraft finished his brilliant performance with 25-disposals and two goals, while brother Kade collected 24-touches to go with 11 clearances. 

Tom Panuccio proved lively up forward, collecting 17-disposals alongside his two goals while Hamish Lucas and Marcus Herbert showed flashes off brilliance with 19 and 18 disposals respectively. 

The VFL Cats will enjoy a weekend off in round nine, before returning to action at GMHBA Stadium against Port Melbourne in round ten. 

GEELONG                      3.4       5.7        8.11            10.15       (75)
RICHMOND                    2.2       5.5         7.7              11.9        (75)

GOALS: J.Chalcraft, Panuccio 2, Lewis, Willis, Foster, Clohesy, Christie, Riccardi 1

DISPOSALS: J.Chalcraft 25, K.Chalcraft 24, Lucas 19, Herbert 18, Panuccio, Cousins 17