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VFL: Cats start 2014 smoothly

The Cats got off to a flyer in their first match for 2014
The Cats got off to a flyer in their first match for 2014
The Bendigo Bank Cats have managed to come away with the first victory of the preseason with a decisive win over the North Ballarat Roosters.

Though a fine mist made for tough conditions, the Cats continued to make their presence known around the contest with a persistent defensive approach.

Third year recruit Josh Walker was a handy utility providing height along the back line and through the middle, improving his chances of senior selection. Coach Matthew Knights was suitably impressed with the young talent on display throughout the match,and suggested the importance of blooding versatile young players in the post match interview.

‘I thought [Walker’s] aerial work was pretty strong, his spoiling and his marking, and in the last quarter he was able to do a bit of ruck work. The more flexible he can become the more chances he gives himself of being selected in the AFL.’

New Cats Jake Kolodjshnij and Nick Bourke also delighted the Cats faithful with their defensive work and ball handling skills, along with second year player Jed Bews who was later named Best on Ground.

‘Jake was really solid down back. I thought his ball handling, either in the air or on the ground, was very sure. He was a real positive.
Nick Bourke too handled himself quite well and used the ball well.’

‘Jed was clearly one of our best players. While everyone else was fumbling, he was clean at times, even early in the game. It was just superb.’

‘He defended really well, first and foremost, but when he had the chance to attack and get on the end of it he did that as well.’

Joel Hamling, who returned to the forward line after dazzling fans with his goal kicking skills last year, was also given the nod for his consistent performance.

‘He contributed well. I thought his second and third efforts were an improvement from last season which is a big step forward for Joel’.

Local recruit Chris Lynch (Bell Park) impressed the coaches with his ability to read the play in the back half, while 2013 ‘Young Gun’ James Linton (Colac) was ruthless in his attack on the ball.

However a suspected ACL injury to VFL veteran Ben Raidme in the final quarter put an unforeseen dampener on the match. The South Barwon midfielder looked in serious pain after a quick change of direction in a tackling contest and had to be stretchered from the ground.

While Knights conceded that the injury was a significant loss, he also emphasised the importance of Raidme’s strong character.

‘It looks like a pretty bad knee injury, but we’ll have to wait on confirmation from scans.’

‘It’s a tough one for Raids, but he’s a tough young lad. He’s got good character so let’s hope he bounces back.’

Though the afternoon provided somewhat dour conditions both in weather and in the play, the next generation of young AFL and VFL Cats recruits gave a glimpse into what will be an exciting 2014 season.

Both the VFL and AFL sides will break for a week before returning to Simonds for a second practice match against Essendon’s VFL side on Saturday, March the 22nd at 11am. Be sure to follow the VFL Twitter page (@GeelongVFL) for information and updates during the week and live match updates during the game.

Geelong 11.19 (85) defeated North Ballarat 5.7 (37)
Goals: Bews, Banjanin 2, Hartman, Hamling, Hollmer, Tudor, Gibbs, Duncan, Finch
Best: Bews, Banjanin, Kolodjashnij, Lynch, Walker, Hollmer, Linton
Injuries: Raidme (knee), Bath (shin)
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs