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VFL: Cats smother Blues

Josh Caddy after a goal during the 2013 AFL round 02 match between the Geelong Cats and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on April 07, 2013. (Photo: Andrew White/AFL Media)
Josh Caddy was outstanding for the VFL side
The Bendigo Bank Cats have duplicated last week’s return to form with a sterling four quarter effort against the Northern Blues at Simonds Stadium on Sunday, downing the Blues by 58 points thanks to a an eleven goal to one first half.

Goalless in the first quarter, it wasn’t until the eighteenth minute of the second term that the Blues were able to put their first goal on the board. Meanwhile the Cats had surged out to a ten goal lead which remained until the finish, Geelong: 15.13 (103) defeated Northern Blues: 5.15 (45).

Geelong managed their first half dominance through a monumental effort in the middle of the ground, winning clearances and pushing the Cats into attack and keeping them there. Forward pressure from the likes of Barham, Corrigan and Hollmer ensured that any contested inside 50’s went the Cats way and they went into halftime with twenty scoring shots
to the Blues eight.

“It could arguably be the our best four quarter performance of the year” coach Matthew Knights told
after the game.

“We had a big change in our line up from last week- which was a big plus for us to play really well at Windy Hill and win by 40 and then to have 6 or 8 changes and replicate that today was just a fine team performance”.

The Cats fielded a club record amount of VFL listed players against the Blues, at seventeen.

This led some to speculate before the match that it would be a tight game given the depth of talent in the Blues forward half. With Murdoch playing AFL and Bathie down with a calf injury the Cats defenders had a job ahead of them.

The late inclusion of defender Ben Capra to cover the loss of Ryan Bathie turned out to be a prosperous one, as Capra seamlessly settled into the Cats defensive line and gelled well with Sully, Eardley and Condy. The entire Cats defensive half was in fine form, working like a well oiled machine all day under the watchful eye of Sully.

Bews had another fantastic game, having a much greater effect on the game than his thirteen touches suggests. His goal in the third quarter when the Blues came at them was inspirational, taking hits from two would be tacklers and still making the goal from the boundary.

The second half was a much tighter affair than the first, the Blues seemingly getting their act together in the main break, and kicking the first three goals of the third.

The Cats actually lost the second half by four points, but they stood strong in the face of Northern fury and responded every time they were challenged.

A major contributor to Geelong's blistering first half was Gold Coast recruit Josh Caddy, who picked up 17 first half possessions, 3 clearances and 2 goals.

According to Knights, Caddy was limited to playing three quarters, as his fitness was in question until late in the week.

“I thought his performance in the first three quarters was outstanding- his quick feet around the stoppages, his ability to break through the lines. We saw some pretty good stuff out of Josh Caddy today” he said.

“His form today suggests he is really hungry to get back into the AFL team”

“The dash he showed breaking away from stoppages suggests he is going to go up and play good AFL footy sooner rather than later”.

With the bye looming next week and a Grand Final rematch with perennial contenders Port Melbourne to follow the week after, Knights is mindful of keeping the tempo up over the break.

“I am really proud of the players the way they played in this last game before the bye” he said.

“We knew we had to throw everything at this game with the week off next week, thankfully the players played superb team football. We were very physical in the contest, we spread, we ran hard when we needed to, and to be able to defend and keep a good Northern Blues team to 5 goals was something we were really pleased with as a team”.

“I thought the last two weeks we have played better, our pressure on the ball has been better, our tackling and harassing has been better, and going inside 50 better”.

“We can't afford to be off the boil against Port Melbourne post bye”.

Focal Points:
Midfield Muscle:
Again the Cats midfield controlled the game, making life easier on the defenders with almost no easy rebound ball available to the Blues, and at the same time keeping up supply to the forwards. Hitouts and clearances were decisively won by the Cats, with Raidme (27 pos), Selwood (23 pos), Schroder (22 pos) and Caddy (21) all cleaning up the disposal count. Raidme’s brilliant season continues unabated and Schroder’s time in the AFL has done him no harm either. Caddy was perhaps the star of the day in massive team wide performance however, his influence on the game was undeniable. Give him time to garner confidence and gel with the Cats structures and he will be quite a weapon.

The VFL list:
Despite having only 6 AFL/Rookie listed players the Cats looked a clear cut above the Blues all day, even when the Blues were coming at them. That so many changes can be made in a team, and it can still perform so well only underscores the job Knights has
done with the list handed to him. Corrigan, Selwood, Gleeson, Raidme, Sully and Flanagan have had standout years so far and only promise to match their accomplishments so far with more of the same.

Avenues to goal:
The Cats had a spread of twelve goal scorers for the day with only three multiples. They came from everywhere and anywhere, mids, forwards, even the odd backline major. If the Blues had our talls covered the smalls slipped through the cracks to keep the board
ticking over. The first half was a clinic with the Cats booting eleven through and threatening a whitewash. Before the game the Blues had a healthy percentage and one of the lowest ‘points against’ in the league, something the Cats did plenty to ruin on Sunday.

Geelong: 15.13 (103) defeated Northern Blues: 5.15 (45).
Goals: Schroder, Barham, Caddy 2, Maas, Bews, Gleeson, Raidme, Corrigan, Herbison, Walker,
Sheahan, Hollmer.
Best: Caddy, Schroder, Bews, Barham, Selwood, Raidme, Flanagan, Measures.
Injuries: Condy (mouth)
Reports: nil
@Simonds Stadium.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs