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VFL Cats off to winning start

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: Jake Kolodjashnij of the Cats in action during the 2016 AFL Round 13 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Geelong Cats at Etihad Stadium on June 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Jake Kolodjashnij was among the VFL Cats' best players against Werribee

Geelong’s VFL side has claimed victory in their round one clash with Werribee, defeating the Tigers 14.16 (100) to 10.15 (75), on Sunday.

The Cats were winners of the K ROCK Cup, overcoming a wasteful Werribee in what was a scrappy affair to start the season.

Despite the Tigers’ dominant display on the stat sheet, the home side struggled to convert in front of goal in the first half, allowing the Cats to open up a 13-point lead at the main break.

Goals were rare in the first half but the tackling and defensive intensity was relentless from both sides.

The trend of inaccuracy continued in the third quarter before the floodgates opened in the final term.

The two sides combined for 13 final quarter goals, but thanks to Esava Ratugolea’s two late majors, the Cats were able to run out 25-point victors.

Cats coach Shane O’Bree was pleased to get an early win on the board, but admits that the Tigers’ poor kicking played a part in the result.

We were a bit lucky, it has been a common theme the last few games with teams having plenty of shots,” O’Bree said.

“We were pretty lucky early not to be down by more.”

Despite suffering a head knock on the stroke of half time, Tom Atkins performed admirably in the second half and was awarded the Damian Drum Medal for best on ground.

Atkins finished with 23 disposals, seven clearances and five tackles and O’Bree was impressed by the courage shown by the Cats’ reigning best and fairest.

“He is a very good player, Tommy, he halves or wins contests he shouldn’t win,” O’Bree said.

“We love Tommy being in our team, and the way he came back (from the head knock) showed who he is, he puts his head over the ball, he gets hit and gets back up.”

Jake Edwards and Jake Kolodjashnij were rock solid across half back, with the latter impressing after an extended injury layoff. 

Kolo was amazing down back, his touch was fantastic, he read the ball well and set up well,” O’Bree said.

Kolodjashnij was named among the best players on the back of his 13 disposals, eight marks and three rebound 50s.

Jordan Cunico also made his return to the Cats side and impressed with his pace along the wing. 

Cunico showed what he’s got with his dash around the midfield and breaking away from clearances,” O’Breesaid.

Rhys Stanley fought hard in his ruck battle with MajakDaw, totalling 28 hitouts along with 17 disposals, eight marks and a goal.

The Cats were able to blood some new talent on Sunday with Esava Ratugolea playing his first game in the hoops.

The new draftee impressed on debut, kicking three goals, including two in the final term when the game was on the line. 

Esava is a player that has got a lot of attributes and the more games he plays, the more impact he will have,” O’Bree said.

The VFL Cats will look to continue their winning form next week when they take on Port Melbourne at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. 

VFL Round 1 – Bendigo Bank Cats 14.16 (100) def.Werribee 10.15 (75)

Goals: Ratugolea 3, Hayball 2, Stanley, Buzza, Black, House, Cunico, Jones, Reid, Floyd, McLachlan

Best: AtkinsKolodjashnijSImpsonTsitasHickeyBuzza

Reports: Z. Guthrie (rough conduct)

Injuries: Nil

@ Spring Creek Reserve, Torquay

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