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VFL: Cats fall short

George Horlin-Smith was among the Cats' best players against the Blues

Geelong’s VFL side has kicked off its 2016 season in disappointing fashion on Friday night, falling to the Northern Blues 14.6 (90) to 16.8 (104).

Following their lengthy pre-season campaign, the Cats came out firing in the first term, attacking the ball with intensity whilst keeping the Blues to a solitary goal.

The visitors looked a different side in the second term as the Bankers struggled to stop the young Blues midfield from sending the ball forward. Liam Jones proved to be a handful for the Geelong defenders, kicking three goals for the quarter.

The Cats rallied in the third term kicking five goals to three on the back of some excellent clearance work from the midfield. The Bankers were faced with a one-point deficit at the final change.

Neither side was able to kick away in the final term as the arm wrestle went down to the wire. Two late goals to Daniel Gorringe proved to be the difference as the Blues ran out 14-point victors. 

The heated affair saw the Cats give away four 50m penalties and concede eight goals from free kicks. Their lack of discipline a cause for concern for coach Shane O’Bree.

“The thing that has probably annoyed us most as a group is undisciplined goals. Eight goals from free kicks, whether 50m penalties or careless tackles, you take eight goals away and its an easy win,” he said. 

Ball magnet George Horlin-Smith was at his best, racking up 28 possessions and nine clearances in an excellent performance.

Recruit Sam McLachlan also impressed in his Cats debut and was amongst the best players. McLachlan racked up 20 possessions, nine tackles, six clearances and a goal. 

“Sam has got a bit of talent and we are happy to have him in our program,” O’Bree said.

“He showed glimpses tonight of what he can bring to the table. He’s very good at contested ball and he’s got some good skills.”

Nathan Vardy returned to the side following a foot injury and was productive up forward with five marks and a goal. Vardy also showed his strengths in the ruck with 11 hitouts.

“Vards was good, I thought he could’ve clunked a few more but that’s probably just game practice,” O’Bree said.

Padraig Lucey also shouldered a lot of the ruck duties and registered 22 hitouts. Lucey took five marks and kicked a goal from his 13 disposals.

“(Padraig) was better tonight, he had a few focus areas about his contact work and being harder to play against and I thought he did that tonight,” O’Bree said. 

“He’s still got a long way to go but he’s working his butt off, trying to work on every area to become a better AFL player.”

The Cats will take on the North Ballarat Roosters next Friday night at Eureka Stadium.

VFL Round 2 - Bendigo Bank Cats 14.6 (90) def. by Northern Blues 16.8 (104)

Goals: Tudor 4, Atkins 2, Buzza, Cornell, Lucey, Bates, Robinson, McLachlan, Rees

Best: Bews, Atkins, Tudor, Haintz, McLachlan, Horlin-Smith

Reports: Tudor (rough conduct)

Injuries: Gardner (toe)

Venue: Simonds Stadium, Geelong

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