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VFL: Cats send off Port

VFL Highlights vs Port (Rd18) The best bits from the Cats win over Pt Melbourne
Josh Hunt starred against Port Melbourne
Josh Hunt starred against Port Melbourne
A grueling six point win over arch rival Port Melbourne at Teac Oval on Saturday has given the Bendigo Bank Cats the finals preparation they need according to Cats coach Matthew Knights. 

Fierce tackling and intense pressure around the stoppages were the hallmarks of a win for the history books, as Port Melbourne threw everything they had at the Cats to keep their top four chances alive. 

The Cats stood firm in the face of it all, with veterans Josh Hunt and Paul Chapman helping their younger teammates across the line by one straight kick, Geelong 15.12 (102) def Port Melbourne 14.12 (96)

"(It was) An unbelievable game, i think the last time the two sides met at this ground was in the finals last year which was a very compelling and unbelievable game of footy as well" Coach Knights said post match. 

"It just felt that both teams were throwing everything at each other... both teams played pretty aggressive footy all day"

The largest margin of the day was thirteen points, as both sides struggled to break away with the game. Goal differentials by quarter were negligible, with the Cats winning the 1st, 3rd and 4th by a goal each, while Port won the 2nd term by two goals. 

The match went right down to the wire with the Cats stretching to a seven point lead minutes before the final siren, after some good ground level work by Shane Kersten opened up Paul Chapman in an open goal square.

Port pressed on, managing to go forward from the center bounce where their shot on goal hit the post. The Cats frantically tried to clear, but Port hemmed them in- a desperate smother and contest from Mark Corrigan halting the run of play seconds from the siren, securing the six point win.

Most key performance indicators were even between both sides, with the Cats edging ahead in inside 50's (53-46) and tackles (99-65) despite Port winning the contested ball 139-108. 

The superhuman efforts of Josh Hunt (16 disposals, 8 rebound 50's, 4 tackles) aided by fellow defenders Cam Eardley (10 disposals, 8 tackles) and Mitch Brown (13 disposals, 4 rebound 50's) made the difference in the end reducing Port's ability to go inside 50 and outscore the Cats. 

Josh Hunt stood out in defence as the vital link consistently rebuffing forward thrusts by Port Melbourne, and creating attacking opportunities through outstanding delivery by foot in windy conditions. 

Matthew Knights thought the two premiership veterans Chapman and Josh Hunt made a marked difference on the day.

"I thought Josh Hunt played a very good game, some of his cut off marks were great" Knights said. 

"Some of his kicking in tough conditions was really good, and I thought he marshaled the players really well in that dying 3 or 4 minutes and got an extra number or two behind the ball".

"Chappy's contested ball broke the lines really well, and he ended up in the right spot in the right time for that last goal from the goal-square". 

The Cats engine room in the middle fought a running battle with Port's Chris Cain, John Baird and Thomas O'Sullivan. 

George Horlin-Smith was across it early amassing 18 touches to half time on his way to 25; Josh Cowan was at his silky best all day, scything through packs and leaving the opposition wrong footed gathering 26 touches and 9 clearances; While Mark Corrigan was unshakable in his endevour to win the inside ball, 13 or his 17 disposals coming as clearances.

Knights spoke glowingly of Corrigan and a number of other midfielders. Corrigan is a noted team player and was co-vice captain during the game against Port Melbourne alongside Dom Gleeson.

"Mark Corrigan is probably an unheralded player across this league" he said. 

"He has been doing very special things for a long long time". 

"(Also) Josh Cowan was super today. For someone who has missed so much footy as Josh has, to play the way he has today was superb". 
Jesse Stringer and Taylor Hunt were firing hard on the outside generating run and carry from the stoppages and setting up inside 50's and general attacking play. Taylor Hunt's breakaway pace set up vital goals for the Cats, early to Dom Gleeson (3 goals) and later on to Ryan Bathie (3 goals). 

Coach Knights noted that Taylor Hunt's drive was a factor that helped the Cats overcome Port late in the game.

"I feel we were beaten in the midfield for the first two and a bit quarters- not by much, only marginal" Knights said. 

"But in the last quarter and a half I think Taylor Hunt, the way he generated ball winning and run out of the front of the stoppage was outstanding". 

In perhaps the only sour note for the Cats, Captain Troy Selwood was taken from the field before half time with a shoulder injury that required further x-rays to determine the extent of the injury.

"It's a really bitter blow for the skipper" Knights said.

"He is very much the heartbeat of the heartbeat of our club". 

Geelong Cats 15-12-102 def Port Melbourne 14-12-96.
Goal: Bathie 4, Gleeson 3, West, Cowan, Corrigan, Chapman, Thurlow
Best: Cowan, J Hunt, Chapman, Corrigan, West, Bathie, Gleeson
Injuries: Selwood (dislocated shoulder)
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs