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VFL: Cats' bad run continues

Jarrad Jansen tackles former teammate Jordan Schroder

Geelong’s VFL side has suffered a crushing blow against an in-from Essendon outfit, going down 6.7 (43) to 19.21 (135) yesterday.

Playing a curtain raiser on Etihad Stadium in Jack Hollmer’s 100th VFL game, the Cats needed no motivation to come out and perform. But from the outset it was evident that Essendon was better prepared to rise to the occasion.

“I think the guys were pretty excited to play, they just weren’t able to get the job done today against a quality opposition,” coach Paul Hood said after the match.

The Bombers came bursting out of the blocks in the first quarter, kicking six goals whilst dominating the clearance count. The Cats could only manage a solitary goal through milestone man Hollmer as easy misses cost the visitors early.

The rest of the match followed a similar pattern as the Bombers allowed nothing to come easy for the young Cats side.  The home side relentlessly continued to pile on goals throughout the contest and ran out 92-point victors.

The loss is the Cats’ fifth in succession and is an untimely step backwards, following consecutive solid performances against quality opposition.

Coming off close losses to Port Melbourne and Williamstown, Hood expected more from his players against the Bombers but also understands that fatigue may have been a factor in the result.

“I expected a more competitive performance. I thought based on what we’ve done in the last two weeks, we’d be more competitive today,” he said.

“Seeing signs pretty early in the game, our guys looked pretty fatigued and pretty tired. No doubt the last two weeks caught up with the team a little bit today.”

Essendon outclassed the Cats in nearly all facets of the game and even though they dominated possession (401 to 331) and had the Cats chasing tail most of the day, the Bombers managed to win the tackle count (57 to 47).

“Essendon to their credit, moved the ball really fast all day, were hard to control and they can play that way when you let them win the contest and we just weren’t able to peg the game back,” Hood said.

“The ball is going the other way all the time, it’s pretty hard for the midfielders to arrest that against a really quality opposition.”

The Cats were also hurt by their depleted ruck stocks with the likes of inexperienced duo Padraig Lucey and Tom Read shouldering the majority of the load.

Combining for only 14 hitouts, Lucey and Read struggled against AFL quality ruckmen, but Hood sees it as a good learning experience for the pair’s development.

“For Tom and Padraig, if they want to get to the level they want to get to, they are going to have to learn to compete with guys like Giles and McKernan.

“Today was a really tough day for them but it’s a day that they can learn from and they are days that they have got to go through in their development to try and be AFL footballers,” Hood said.

There were some positives from the match as Zac Bates took another step in his recovery playing out the full four quarters of the game. Bates finished with 17 touches, five marks and six rebound 50s.

“Another good performance from Zac. He got run down a couple of times today. Obviously it’s the first opposition he’s faced at that level for a while but he’s got to keep taking the game on and showing his talent,” Hood said.

VFL stalwart Ben Raidme never gave up and led the way for the Cats in tough circumstances. Raidme totaled 28 disposals, nine marks and five tackles, as he was one of few Cats to put together a four-quarter performance.

“Ben’s had a great comeback from his knee injury, his last month has been really solid,” Hood said.

“He’s a great leader in the team, he shows the way by working as hard as he can all the time, no matter what the situation.

“He got plenty of the footy today because he just kept trying which is a tribute to the character that Ben’s got.”

Leopold’s Tom Ruggles also continued his strong season with a solid outing off half-back. Ruggles had 23 disposals, 20 by foot, seven marks and five clearances.

“(Ruggles) got plenty of the footy himself and won contests against bigger and more experienced opponents on plenty of occasions. It was great for Tom to step up and he was probably the highlight for the day.” 

The only injury concern for the Cats was George-Horlin Smith, who suffered a hyper-extended knee. Horlin-Smith managed to run out the game, seemingly unaffected.

Whilst things look dour for the Cats, the inexperienced side will look to improve as the season goes on, starting next week against the Roosters.

The Cats face North Ballarat at Simonds Stadium in a bid to get back on the winners list.


VFL Round 8 – Bendigo Bank Cats 6.7 (43) def. by Essendon Bombers 19.21 (135)

Goals: Paliouras 2, Hollmer, Close, Linton, Herbison

Best: Ruggles, Burchell, Kolodjashnij, Raidme, McFarlane, Hollmer

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Horlin-Smith (hyper-extended knee) @ Etihad Stadium

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