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VFL: Cats scorched by Bombers

Nathan Vardy warms up before his return
Nathan Vardy warms up before his return

Geelong’s VFL side has suffered their second defeat at the hands of Essendon this season, going down after leading all day, 13.8 (86) to 15.9 (99), at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

A poor last quarter from the Bankers gifted the Bombers a 13-point win, spoiling the chance of victory on return for luckless duo Josh Cowan and Nathan Vardy.

The Cats were also bolstered by the inclusions of Mathew Stokes and Jed Bews, playing their first VFL games for the season.

The first half saw the Cats play some of their best football for the year, kicking nine goals and keeping the Bombers to only seven scoring shots.

The home side continued their dominance in the third quarter, as the likes of George Horlin-Smith and Stokes ran rings around the Bombers’ midfield to take a 34-point lead into the final break.

The lead seemed almost unattainable for the visitors but they came out with an intensity the Cats couldn’t match, kicking seven goals to run away with the victory.

“We probably played our best half of footy for the year in the first half and it is long forgotten now,” Coach Paul Hood said after the match.

“It is disappointing, the boys should get some reward for the work they did but they won’t.”

Despite the final result, there were numerous positives to take out of the match with a few standout performances from key players and the return of some injury prone Cats to the side.

Nathan Vardy made his triumphant return from a knee injury, kicking two goals and taking three marks from his six possessions.

“It was a really good first half from Nathan, he looked really lively and really bouncy,” Hood said.

“He showed lots of encouraging signs and he should feel really good about finishing the rest of the season strongly.”

Josh Cowan also made a successful comeback from a hamstring injury suffered in round six of the AFL season, collecting 11 possessions, two marks and two clearances.

Daniel Menzel continued his impressive form since his return to football two weeks ago, totaling 18 possessions, along with two marks and six clearances.

Menzel showed his innate sense around goal finishing with two for the day in a game that Hood saw as Menzel’s best performance since his return.

“Today was certainly the best of his three games, the most consistent effort throughout the game,” Hood said

The Cats’ midfield was impressive for most of the day with Stokes, Horlin-Smith and Dean Gore pushing their respective cases for a senior game.

Horlin-Smith had 22 disposals, three tackles and five inside 50s whilst Gore had 16 touches and seven tackles but it was Stokes who looks likely for an AFL recall after a strong performance.

Stokes was the Cats’ most consistent all day and was efficient with ball in hand. The 30-year-old collected a game-high 32 possessions along with five marks and five clearances.

“Stokesy’s attitude to the day was first rate. I think the young fellas really enjoyed playing with him,” Hood said.

The midfielders were able to get first use out of the midfield with Dawson Simpson racking up 38 hitouts and 12 possessions. Simpson also had a season-high eight tackles.

“(Dawson’s) first half was excellent, he really hunted the contest and went after Giles, that was a real positive,” Hood said.

Jack Hollmer, who seems destined to break every record for the Bankers, suited up for his 106th VFL game, overtaking former Cat Trent West as the Geelong VFL games record holder.

For the visitors, Courtenay Dempsey caused some damage with four goals whilst Paul Chapman made his return to Simonds Stadium in style, kicking a late goal that proved vital in their comeback victory.

The loss is a crushing blow to the Cats’ finals hopes as they face a tough run home and will likely need to win all five games to make it.

“We will have to be pretty good to make the finals from here, we will see, one week at a time,” Hood said.


Key Cats stats:

Mathew Stokes – 32 disposals, five marks, five clearances

George Horlin-Smith – 22 disposals, five i50s

Daniel Menzel – 18 disposals, six clearances, two goals

Jed Bews – 12 disposals, four marks

Dawson Simpson – 12 disposals, eight tackles, 38 hitouts

Josh Cowan – 11 disposals, three r50s

Nathan Vardy – six disposals, three marks, two goals


Goals: Menzel, Vardy, Sheringham 2, Blease, Jansen, Gore, Hollmer, Maas, Paliouras, Linton.

Best: Horlin-Smith, Sheringham, Menzel, Gore, Robinson, Ruggles

Injuries: Nil

Reports: Nil

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