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VFL: Dogs down Cats

Rhys Stanley in his first game for the Cats
Rhys Stanley in his first game for the Cats

Geelong’s VFL unit have lost their first practice match of 2015, going down to Footscray by 45 points.

Despite the loss, coach Paul Hood was confident that the game had been a necessary learning experience for the team.

‘The Bulldogs are a really good team and we knew that coming in, so we were really fortunate to play them in a practice match and figure out the level that we’re at,’ he said.

‘Throughout the game there were periods where we were even in the contested ball and there were periods where we dropped off, and the scoreboard reflected that.

‘When we dropped off we got scored against heavily, so the lesson for us is to maintain our intensity for as long as possible.’

Though the Cats managed to come within four points at three-quarter-time, they were unable to match it in the final quarter with last year’s premiers.

‘The turnaround in the last quarter obviously took us a little by surprise. The boys weren’t trained for this game. We’re focusing on round one with Werribee in a couple of weeks’ time,’ Hood said

‘In hindsight we can understand why they ran out of legs a little bit. It’s not a big worry for us. What is probably more pleasing from a learning point of view was to see that we can really compete with a good side for periods of the game.’

One of the highlights of the practice match was the return of 21 year old defender Jackson Thurlow. Thurlow’s comeback was hailed as a success after completing three quarters of the match a mere four months after suffering a lacerated kidney in a training exercise, collecting 13 disposals and 4 marks for the match.

‘He probably looked like our best player before we took him off, so that’s a really good sign for Jacko and a credit to the conditioning staff for preparing him well enough to play.’ Hood said after the match.

Thurlow also relished the opportunity to test out his athletic capacity following his lengthy stint on the sidelines.

‘It was good just to get out there with the boys, have a run around, get a touch of the footy and get some conditioning into me.

‘The incident was so minor that there were really no mental repercussions that were going to come my way I don’t think. I wasn’t in any pain from about 2 months ago so I haven’t really thought about my body, I wasn’t really worried.

 ‘I got pulled at three-quarter time and then did a few laps around St Mary’s for 20-25 minutes to get some k’s in my legs which I think will hold me in good stead for a few games.’

 ‘Hopefully I’ll manage to get my fitness back as quick as possible, touch the footy as much as possible and start putting some pressure on for AFL selection.’

Returning VFL stalwart and recently named co-captain Jackson Sheringham was named best on ground, amassing 15 disposals and 6 tackles for the match, while newcomers Dean Gore (24 disposals, 6 marks) and Sam Blease (29 disposals, 5 marks) impressed with their attack in the contest and fleet footed antics.

Co-captain Ben Raidme also returned to the field yesterday after suffering a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament in the first practice match of 2014, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. Raidme, who had been a contender for the leadership mantle last year, was pleased to get through the match unscathed, managing 15 disposals and 4 marks that pleased the Geelong VFL faithful.

Big man Rhys Stanley was similarly impressive in his debut in the hoops with 12 disposals, while Josh Walker put on yet another exciting performance with 17 disposals and 5 goals.

Geelong’s final practice match will take place on Saturday the 11th of April against Essendon’s VFL team at True Value Solar Centre with kick off at 12pm. Make sure you follow @GeelongVFL during the match for live updates on the match.

Geelong VFL 15.8 98

Footscray 22.11 143

Goals: Walker 5, Kersten 4, Read 2, Close, McIntosh, Luxford, Gore

Best: Sheringham, Blease, Walker, Thurlow, Horlin-Smith, Gore


The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs