Ben Jensen 29 July 2006

By Ben Jensen GEELONG overcame a shaky start and determined Bendigo Bombers side to win by twenty-seven points in their VFL clash at Skilled Stadium this afternoon. For their efforts, the Geelong (Bendigo Bank) Cats were awarded the Bendigo Bank Cup, by their and Bendigo Bombers' main sponsor. Captain James Byrne was deservedly named best on ground after his on ball effort.

Discarded spearheads Kent Kingsley and Henry Playfair kicked six and three goals respectively, both far too good for their VFL opponents in marking contests. However, both could have kicked a few more, Playfair in particular inaccurate in front of goal.

Veteran Peter Riccardi was left out of the side, and will likely replace Steve Johnson in the AFL side's clash with the Kangaroos in Canberra on Sunday. Midfielder Brent Prismall, an unlucky exclusion the past two rounds after good early form on debut, was rested after playing the first half, also believed to be headed for the ACT.

GEELONG: 1.2 (8) 6.9 (45) 11.12 (78) 15.16 (106) DEFEATED
BENDIGO BOMBERS: 2.4 (16) 4.10 (34) 7.14 (56) 10.19 (79)

GOALSGEELONG: Kingsley 6, Playfair, Ablett 3, Byrne, Batchelor
BENDIGO: Maddern 2, Carter 2, Bowe, Young, Cartledge, Lee, Dempsey, Ryder

BESTGEELONG: Byrne, Playfair, Tenace, Prismall, Kingsley

What a contrast for Geelong coach Leigh Tudor - last season, his first as coach, he regularly had to ring around GFL and BFL clubs, so desperate was he to field a side. Today his team of twenty-four featured twenty either AFL or Rookie listed, with just two genuine VFL players.

The Cats started the game in poor fashion, while the Essendon affiliate Bombers dominated play but were quite wasteful in front of goal. The Cats' only goal came from Kingsley while the Bombers managed just two goals and four behinds. Geelong though had more possessions, overusing the ball compared to Bendigo.

Kingsley's first goal was from the left forward pocket at the Doug Wade Stand end, close to the boundary line. Yet he calmly slotted it through. Out of all the senior players in the side, Kingsley has the most to prove and the one playing for his career, so was expected to try hard today.

Geelong should have started the second half with a quick goal, but Henry Playfair ruined what was a very good contested mark by spraying a set shot wide just 25m from goal. Playfair's teammates appeared to respond immediately to coach Leigh Tudor's pleas to 'give poor old Kent and Henry a chance' by delivering the ball low and direct, instead of popping it up only for the spoiling defender to punch from behind. But it was a sign of things to come; Playfair marking strongly despite attention from his opponents.

Bendigo's Josh Bowe kicked the goal of the day soon after, pouncing on a turnover and kicking whilst his arms were held by his Geelong opponent. But the crowd was understandably silent, with only a few loyal Bendigo / Essendon fans applauding the fine effort.

Kingsley should have had his and his team's second but missed an absolute sitter soon after. Finally it was Nick Batchelor, who ran back inside fifty and marked a Kingsley pass from the wing, to kick start the Cats. Batchelor coolly slotted through his kick from the right forward pocket, roughly 45m from goal.

Playfair continued to mark strongly and kick poorly, before Nathan Ablett thrilled the crowd including his father Gary, after his roving of ruckman Mark Blake's tap in the pocket, booting a goal that proved to be the ignition point of the Cats' comeback, answering back Bomber Tristan Cartledge's goal a minute earlier.

Paul Koulouriotis demonstrated why he's not playing regular AFL football with the worst kick of the day, a cut little chip across the face of goal. Fortuitously for him and his team, the Bendigo player missed the rebound shot at goal. The Cats rebounded, Travis Varcoe taking a run down the wing and delivering perfectly to a leading Kent Kingsley. Kingsley began a run of good kicking, this time booting his second goal from a 45 degree angle in the right forward pocket, City end, cutting the Bombers lead to just three points.

Kane Tenace, who's pace is simply unmatched at this level, should get another run in the AFL soon - but as we'd see later on in the game, his disposal lets him down too often. But this quarter he was on fire, setting up Playfair who again marked strongly and this time kicked the goal, his first for the day. Geelong was not in front for the first time of the match.

The Cats, through Varcoe and Ryan Gamble missed shots they should have kicked whilst the Bombers also had their chances - missing four absolute sodas during the quarter.

Geelong took an eleven point lead into half time, Kingsley on three goals, and Batchelor, Playfair and Ablett one apiece.

THE BOMBERS stated the third quarter much like the first - in a flurry but with little to show for their efforts, managing just one goal one behind despite dominating the first five minutes.

It was another laconic effort from Nathan Ablett that returned serve, Ablett marking right on the goal line and just getting his boot to ball for his second. Geelong dominated the next quarter of an hour, Kingsley kicking his forth and then setting in motion what can only be described as a sensation.

Kingsley's shot for goal from the right pocket drifted across the face of goal, from where Ablett passed to a waiting Varcoe. Varcoe in turn played on, kicking to ruckman Mark Blake, who while in a better position has hardly kicked a ball in his short AFL/VFL career. Blake, though, proved us all he really can kick, lumbering in and kicking the ball straight through from a fraction inside fifty metres. And didn't Blake go from strength to strength after that!

Geelong soon built a twenty-eight point lead, the in form Playfair proving the difference time and time again but still inaccurate in front of goal, kicking another one goal one behind. But he remains, along with Kingsley, a strong chance to replace Matthew McCarthy for the clash with the Brisbane Lions at the GABBA next Sunday.

Bendigo did eventually strike back with two goals of their own. The Bombers struggled after their only multiple goal kicker, Justin Maddern, was forced from the field with a knee injury early in the second quarter. But the old pro, Kent Kingsley, was having none of this comeback, booting his fifth goal for the game, giving the Cats a twenty-two point lead at three quarter time.

THE BOMBERS needed something special early on in the final quarter to have any chance of registering their first win in six games. But it wasn't to be, Geelong registering the first goal, their first score, after six minutes, through Kingsley's unselfish pass to Captain and best on ground Byrne. The lead was now an unassailable twenty-seven points.

Nathan Ablett did well to blend in with his surroundings, but he did add a touch of class with each goal he kicked. His third and final goal came from a casual chip-snap from forty metres out, courtesy of some magic from local boy Tim Sherringham. Sherringham puzzled everybody including his teammates, pulling his snap at goal at the last moment, kicking the ball in the air to himself. He coolly grabbed his own ball, handpassing to Ablett who obliged with the goal.

To add the exclamation point, a dog entered the field of play midway through the final term, giving the small crowd and TV audience a bit of a laugh. But it didn't deter Kingsley, who booted his sixth goal from directly in front. He should have kicked a seventh a couple minutes later from a similiar position, but turned back the clock and missed.

The good news story though had to be Playfair, whose third goal came once more from a set shot, but this time an uncontested mark, as he found himself unmarked 20m from goal on a slight angle.

THE CATS have now won eight of their past ten matches after a modest start to the season, and are a serious chance for the top four. Crucially, the Cats have two more home games, against Port Melbourne and Werribee, in the final two rounds. However they do face in form Melbourne affiliate Sandringham at Sandy in Round 18, but should be able to defeat St Kilda affiliate Casey Scorpions at Casey Fields next Sunday.







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