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VFL: Cats go down in a tight one

Zac Bates played his second game for the Cats
Zac Bates played his second game for the Cats

Geelong’s VFL side has fallen short against Williamstown, 12.8 (80) to 11.16 (82), in a nail-biting encounter at Simonds Stadium.

The first term was a seesawing affair with both sides trading goals early. An early goal on return for Zac Bates inspired the Cats as they took a six-point lead into quarter time.

The second term was an arm wrestle with only three goals kicked. Mitch Herbison was the only Cat to find the goals whilst Williamstown managed two to take a slender lead into the main break.

A two-goal spark from Jack Hollmer at the start of the third quarter gave the Cats an early lead but four goals from the Seagulls gifted them a seven-point advantage to set up an exciting final term.

The visitors got out to an 18-point lead early in the final term and looked like running away with the game. But the Cats forwards had a late surge and goals through Close, Blease and Walker set up a thrilling final few minutes.

Late misses from Simon Close and Jack Hollmer proved costly as Williamstown hung on to run out two-point victors. The result was a disappointing finish to what had been a promising day for the young Cats outfit.

Despite having less scoring shots, Coach Paul Hood felt his side was unlucky not to win the match, but also sees a necessity for improvement for the Cats to overcome experienced sides such as Williamstown.

“It’s heartening for us to get so close again, against a team that we really respect highly in the VFL,” he said.

“We just weren’t efficient enough going forward with the footy. We need to keep working on that and get better at our ball use.”

Hood was also full of praise for the opposition, as they were exceptional defensively and barely gave the Cats’ players an inch all day.

“Williamstown are full of really good honest players that play the game both ways.

“Their pressure on us made it hard to use the ball properly, so credit to them. We felt like we deserved to win but the reality is Williamstown did enough to win like that.”

The Cats were also proficient down back, keeping Williamstown to their lowest score for the 2015 season.

“When you measure games by the scoreboard and winning, we obviously didn’t get what we wanted but we did improve in areas.

“It was really encouraging and I thought our performance was fairly good,” Hood said.

Another positive from the match was Jarrad Jansen, who comprised an impressive best on ground performance, with 26 possessions (21 contested), seven clearances, eight tackles and six inside 50s.

George Horlin-Smith also pushed his case for a senior recall with a solid four-quarter outing. The 22-year-old had a game-high 27 possessions, seven clearances and a goal.

Hood was impressed with Horlin-Smith and acknowledged the possibility that he may be taken out of the VFL side in the coming weeks.

“If the AFL team need him, he showed them today that he will be a good contributor,” Hood said.

With Nakia Cockatoo and Michael Luxford out, it was a timely return for youngster Zac Bates, who impressed early in the match with his skill and pace.

“I thought it was a really great comeback game from Zac, for a kid to miss footy for a full year and comeback like that… it was really good,” Hood said.

Bates was managed throughout the day and played just over a half of football. Despite the shortened game time, the rookie-listed midfielder showed promise in his first game for over a year since injuring his hamstring.

“He’s worked so hard in the past 12 months while he’s been in rehab, has a smile on his face all the time and he really deserved to get back and play footy and feel good about himself,” Hood said.

The Bankers will look to turn their season around when they face Essendon next Saturday at Etihad Stadium. The match will be a curtain raiser to the AFL clash between the Cats and the Bombers.

VFL Round 7 – Bendigo Bank Cats 12.8 (80) def. by Williamstown Seagulls 11.16 (82)

Goals: Hollmer 3, Walker 2, Horlin-Smith, Blease, Bates, Sheringham, Close, Herbison, Sherman

Best: Jansen, Maas, Kolodjashnij, Horlin-Smith, Ruggles, Raidme

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Nil @ Simonds Stadium, Geelong

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