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VFL: Cats power past Port Melbourne

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 29: Nakia Cockatoo of the Cats celebrates during the 2016 AFL Round 19 match between the Geelong Cats and the Western Bulldogs at Simonds Stadium on July 29, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Nakia Cockatoo was among the VFL Cats' best players

Geelong’s VFL side has claimed victory in its final home and away match of 2016, defeating Port Melbourne 15.9 (99) to 9.10 (64).

The Cats started the game strongly, kicking with the wind and dominating at either end of the ground in the first term.

Keeping the Borough scoreless whilst piling on six goals themselves, the Bankers were able to open up a 37-point advantage at the first break.

Port Melbourne mounted numerous challenges throughout the second and third term but the Cats were able to react well and prevent any significant comeback to lead by 50 points at the final change.

A couple of early goals to the Borough gave the Bankers a scare but Shane O’Bree’s side were able to hold on to run out 35-point victors.

Whilst the second half was a scrappy affair, O’Bree was pleased with the result and the confidence it will give his players moving forward.

“We used the ball effectively with the wind and against the wind, we set up really well and controlled the game,” he said.

“It was good for our boys to absorb the pressure.”

The win sees the Bankers finish fifth on the VFL table, setting up an elimination final against Essendon next week with O’Bree hoping his side can go deep into September.

“With the last two wins, we should be confident with whoever we play,” O’Bree said.

“I think our boys are starting to believe they are a good little team so hopefully they can keep going further.”

Whilst there were many AFL listed players on top of their games, it was a VFL listed midfielder who stole the show with Tom Atkins claiming best afield honours.

Atkins collected 25 possessions and was a force in all aspects of the game, racking up seven tackles and kicking three goals.

“Tom Atkins has had an amazing year, with the pressure he puts on and his tackles, with more games he’s played at VFL level, he looks more composed with the ball,” O’Bree said.

“He is a guy who I believe can be a very good VFL player and this year he has put his mind to it and had an awesome season.”

Billie Smedts was also amongst the best players after finishing with a game-high 35 disposals and 13 marks.

Smedts played in the midfield and across half back and O’Bree is looking forward to seeing the 24-year-old continue to improve.

“(Smedts) transitioned well and looked more composed with the ball in his second game back from a big spell,” O’Bree said.”

“Billie is looking more composed every week and I’m looking forward to seeing how he will go over the finals.”

George Horlin-Smith also racked up 34 touches, continuing his run of high quality VFL performances.

“We know what we get with Horlo, obviously today he got a lot of the ball and his contested work was fantastic,” O’Bree said.

The Bankers were without regular key defenders Tom Stewart and Ryan Gardner but Cam Delaney was able to step up in their absence with his best game of 2016.

“(Delaney) defended really well and set us up, he was isolated a few times and spoiled really well,” O’Bree said.

“I thought it was his best game of the year and he has been improving every week.”

Delaney took 13 marks and racked up 20 possessions, earning himself a spot in the Cats’ best players.

The Bankers will look to continue their strong form when they kick off their finals campaign next week.

VFL Round 21 – Bendigo Bank Cats 15.9 (99) def. Port Melbourne 9.10 (64)

Goals: Atkins 3, Bates 2, Kersten 2, Lang 2, McLachlan 2, Cockatoo, Floyd, Parsons, Smedts

Best: Atkins, Smedts, Horlin-Smith, Cockatoo, Hickey, Delaney

Injuries: Nil

Reports: Nil 

@ Whitten Oval, Footscray

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