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VFL: Smedts stars in tough loss

Billie Smedts of the Cats poses for a photograph during a 2015 Geelong Cats portrait session at Simmonds Stadium, Geelong on February 17, 2015. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)
Billie Smedts was immense for the Cats

Geelong’s VFL side has succumbed to a strong Footscray outfit at Simonds Stadium on Sunday, going down 10.9 (69) to 15.5 (95).

The first half saw the Bulldogs control the play at both ends of the ground and a six-goal second term gifted the visitors a 33-point lead at the main break.

Nakia Cockatoo provided the highlight for the half, flying high to take a huge mark midway through the first term.

The spectacular grab sent Cats fans back a few decades to memories of a former player with the number five on his back, with Cockatoo attempting to rival his aerial ability.

Early goals through James Linton and Zac Bates in the third term gave the home side the spark they needed, as the Cats kicked six goals for the quarter to go into the final break only 14 points down.

The persistent Cats fought hard in the final term but it was to no avail as the visitors ran out 26-point victors.

Coach Paul Hood was impressed by his side’s ability to comeback after a tough first half but was ultimately disappointed by the final result.

“It’s disappointing but it all comes back to periods of the game where we didn’t have the right method to go with our effort,” Hood said.

Daniel Menzel followed on from his performance in last week’s comeback match, playing the full four quarters and collecting 19 possessions and five marks. Menzel also kicked three classy goals.

“Good result for Dan to get back and get through the game,” Hood said.

“He still was a very serviceable player for the team, a good player and pulled off a couple of really great pieces of play.”

Billie Smedts pushed his case for an AFL recall with arguably his best performance for the year. The 23-year old finished with a game-high 27 disposals, six marks and five tackles.

“He’s strong in the contest, he is physically impacting the opposition when he goes to the ball and his tackling has been excellent.

“At VFL level we really want him to take the game on but be an influential player and he did that really well today,” Hood said.

Cockatoo relished in a half back role, providing highlights whilst also compiling a solid performance with 20 disposals, six marks and three rebound 50s.

“(Nakia) generally has beaten his opponent, as a defender, before he gets the ball, so the next decision is a little bit easier,” Hood said.

“He is a very instinctive forward player and he’s going well at that at the moment.”

Sam Blease was also one of the Cats better players on a tough day. The former demon showed poise with ball in hand, finishing with 19 disposals, 15 by foot and seven marks.

Dawson Simpson gave the Bankers first use out of the middle all day, as he finished with 47 hitouts against Footscray ruckman Ayce Cordy, along with 10 disposals and five tackles.

“Dawson really helped us around the clearances and helped us get the ball going forward or get it cleanly to the outside,” Hood said.

“He’s a very valuable player when he plays in the VFL team and I’m sure Dawson has got his hopes pinned on playing as much AFL footy as he can.”

The Bankers take on an in-form Essendon next week at Simonds Stadium, which will be a good test for the young Cats side.

“We’ve got to just learn our lesson from the things we didn’t get right today and try and fix as many of them for next week,” Hood said.

VFL Round 14

Bendigo Bank Cats 10.9 (69) def. by Footscray Bulldogs 15.5 (95)

Goals: Menzel 3, Bates 2, Luxford 2, Read, Linton, Haintz

Best: Smedts, Cockatoo, Cunico, Ruggles, Horlin-Smith, Bates

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Nil @ Simonds Stadium


Cats stats winners

Billie Smedts – 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s

Nakia Cockatoo – 20 disposals, six marks

Daniel Menzel – 19 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three goals

George Horlin-Smith – 17 disposals, eight tackles, ten clearances, five inside 50s

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