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VFL: Cats destroy Sandringham

Josh Walker of Geelong and Kyle Hartigan of Werribee in action during the VFL Second Preliminary Final between the Werribee Tigers and Geelong at North Port Oval in Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Josh Walker starred for the Cats with six goals
The Bendigo Bank Cats sit comfortably atop the  VFL ladder after demolishing Sandringham in a second half blitz that saw the Cats slam home seventeen goals to two in blustery seaside conditions at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday.

The Cats toiled manfully into a strong wind in the first quarter to only trail by four points, with Josh Walker doing the damage early for the Cats on his way to a bag of six for the day.

By halftime the lead had stretched to 17 points, as crushing forward pressure and water tight defence across the Cats halfback kept Sandringham scoreless for the first twenty minutes of the second quarter.

The boot of Shane Kersten came into the equation strongly in the third quarter, his unerring set shot accuracy in front of goal despite the difficult conditions was on full display, going goal for goal with Walker to also bag six.

Sandringham managed to spark for a five minute patch in the third term, kicking two goals in quick succession before the Cats reigned them in and took a 51 point lead into the final change.

The fourth quarter was a masterclass by the Cats; there were lose targets wherever they went, and any contested ball was quickly scooped up by blue and white hoops. Josh Cowan (24 disposals) and Troy Selwood (30 disposals) were everywhere while Jaxson Barham
was a bolt of lightning across the forward line.

A ten goal, six behinds to nil final quarter blew what was already a one sided game into a whitewash, and the Cats rampaged their way at will to their 113 point victory, Geelong: 27-18 (180) def Sandringham: 9-9 (63).

Emphatic performances came from across the ground. Sully, Rivers and Condy held the Sandringham forwards in check when the Zebra’s found inside 50’s, while Thurlow, Eardley and Murdoch covered off on the rebound.

Raidme, Gleeson and Schroder were given great first use of the ball by a dominant Trent West, while of course Kersten and Walker both bringing in hauls of six each underscores the Cats intensity in the forward half with the likes of Hollmer,Bathie, Corrigan and Barham able to apply a ton of pressure in the Cats attacking zone.

The Cats defensive work in the back half, and forward pressure in attack were the hallmarks of the day according to Cats coach Matthew Knights.

“Once we got the ball into our forward line i thought our ability to keep it there was great” Knights said.

“I thought in the second quarter we put the screws in defensively and I thought Rivers, Sully, Eardley really knuckled down and got the job done”.

The return of Shane Kersten with a bag of six was something to cap the day off for Cats fans.

Knights believes the addition of Kersten alongside Bathie and Walker makes the Cats forwardline much harder to match up on.

“(Kersten) is a prodigious kick of the footy and his accuracy is excellent” Knights said.

“I was pleased with his defensive work, as we spoke to him before the game, we said the best way you are going to get opportunities to scores is to compete hard in the air and defend hard on the ground”.

“We know if he does that other good things happen, because he has such beautiful touch”.

The 113 point win boosts the Cats percentage by almost ten points, and puts them solidly in the running for a top two finish and the possibility of a home final.

“(The club) will be pushing hard for a home final” Knights said of the prospect.

“It would be spectacular if we could get a home final”.

“To do that we would have to finish top two, winning today heads us in the right direction”.

The road to the finals won’t be easy according to Knights, as the Cats must encounter top sides Williamstown, Casey and Port Melbourne in away games along the way.

“Box Hill with a strong line up will be hard to beat, and Williamstown when they can get their full team together they can play some good footy as well” Knights said of those sides likely to cause trouble come finals.

“Then you have Port at Port with home finals- they play well at the right end of the season”.

Geelong 27-18-180 def Sandringham 9-9-63
Goals: Walker, Kersten 6, Schroder, Barham, Hartman, Maas 2, West, Eardley, Bathie, Corrigan, Gibbs, Herbison, Howe.
Best: Walker, Cowan, West, Gleeson, Kersten, Barham.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs