Main content

VFL: Cats bomb out

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 11: James Parsons of Geelong runs with the ball during the round ten VFL match between the Footscray Bulldogs and Geelong at Whitten Oval on June 11, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)
The VFL Cats faded late against the Bombers

Geelong’s VFL finals campaign was cut short on Saturday by a fast-finishing Essendon, which defeated the Cats 21.6 (132) to 17.8 (110) at North Port Oval.

Essendon dominated early, winning easy centre clearances and plenty of fast entries to end the first quarter with a 31-point advantage.

Keen to make amends, the Cats hit back, Tom Stewart slotting the first goal of the second term in a mere 26 seconds.

Jake Edwards proved himself invaluable in the backline, while Darcy Lang and George Horlin-Smith were ferocious around the stoppages, as Geelong kicked five unanswered goals for the quarter.

The third term proved slightly more even, with the Cats kicking six goals to four.

As ever, Tom Atkins’ determination saw him throwing himself into contests and winning the hard ball, with young Will Sexton also putting in a strong performance.

Geelong entered the final quarter with a 16-point lead and momentum on its side.

Nakia Cockatoo kicked the first score of the final term at the 30-second mark, setting the tone for a dash to the finish line.

Yet the Cats faded from there and the Bombers stormed home to score a 22-point victory.

VFL Cats coach Shane O’Bree was very disappointed after the game.

“We really let ourselves down today,” he said. “I thought we had the game coming into the last quarter. We’ve got so much more to give as a group.

“At the quarter time break we just tried to remain positive. It wasn’t so much structuring that was our issue, it was execution. But once we reassured them that it was just composure, reminded them to take on the game and play the way we’d normally play, it came easy.

“But when teams get their momentum and confidence up, they’re hard to stop. It’s definitely a young group and we’ve been losing momentum swings all year, though I think we’ve gotten better as the year’s gone on.”

Although frustrated with his team’s performance, O’Bree applauded the efforts of numerous players.

“Jake Edwards (12 disposals, 7 marks, 7 rebound 50s) was really solid down back,” he said. “I thought he got us back into the game in the second quarter.

“Obviously George Horlin-Smith (21 disposals, 6 clearances, 2 goals) was great around stoppages, and Tommy Atkins (17 disposals, 9 tackles) in the second quarter was terrific with his effort.

“Nathan Vardy (9 disposals, 2 goals) too was great with his effort forward and in the ruck.”

South Barwon recruit Tom Stewart continued his run of form with 17 disposals, 6 marks and a constant intensity at stoppages and contests.

“Tom’s had a really good year and has been our most consistent defender. He’s improved as the year’s gone on and he’s very coachable. He’s got a lot of assets Tommy,” O’Bree said.

“Other than that we had too many guys go missing and stand up at the same time, so it’s hard to pin point who had a four-quarter effort today.”

When reflecting on the season, O’Bree conceded that though the young team were under the pump, their improvement over the year should have seen them finish in a better position.

“Early on we had a lot of first year players playing in the VFL for the first time, including a lot of new VFL-listed players,” he said.

“We squeezed them to be our leaders while still coming to grips with playing VFL football. But as the year went on we won some really good games.

“Games like Williamstown, Casey and Port Melbourne gave us a lot of belief, so its pretty disappointing that we haven’t got more weeks to actually show our true talents.

“A lot of guys had bad last quarters today. You have to learn from that, stew over it in the preseason, and not allow that to happen again. They need to put their best foot forward.”

VFL Elimination Final – Bendigo Bank Cats 17.8 (110) def by Essendon 21.6 (132)

Goals: Horlin-Smith 2, Kersten 2, Cockatoo 2, House 2, Vardy 2, Bews, Luxford, McLachlan, Parsons, Stewart, Lucey, Murdoch

Best: Edwards, Horlin-Smith, Hickey, Atkins, Stewart, House

Injuries: TBA

Reports: Nil

@ North Port Oval, Port Melbourne

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