VFL Review – Round 15

Updated: July 25, 2015
Veteran Mathew Stokes stretches for a mark in front of Dawson Simpson in Geelong's VFL loss to Essendon. Picture: ARJ GIESE
Veteran Mathew Stokes stretches for a mark in front of Dawson Simpson in Geelong's VFL loss to Essendon. Picture: ARJ GIESE

Veteran Mathew Stokes stretches for a mark in front of Dawson Simpson in Geelong’s VFL loss to Essendon. Picture: ARJ GIESE

GEELONG is effectively out of the VFL finals race after a stunning final quarter fadeout saw the Cats hand Essendon a crucial victory at Simonds Stadium.

The Cats led by seven goals mid-way through the third term and appeared headed towards a crucial victory to keep alive their hopes of a top eight finish.

But the Bombers produced an amazing turnaround, kicking nine of the last 10 goals of the match, to overrun the Cats and score a 15.9 (99) to 13.8 (86) victory.

Essendon completely dominated the last term, kicking 7.5 from their 19 forward entries while holding Geelong scoreless. The Cats only took the ball inside their forward 50m six times.

Cats coach Paul Hood was stunned by the finish, but said it was a valuable lesson for his playing group.

“The sad part is we probably played our best half of footy for the year in the first half,” Hood lamented after the match.

“It’s long forgotten now. It’s disappointing. The boys should get some reward for the work that they did, (but) they’ve got to earn it and they didn’t do enough today to win.

“So that will sit in our stomach for a while and hurt and so it should.

“Essendon purely and simply played us off the park in the last quarter.

“They had seven centre clearances to zero, they won contested possession by about 28; they just smashed us, they were far too good.”

Dumped veteran Mathew Stokes was prominent, collecting 32 touches and had five clearances while Hood said it was pleasing to see George Horlin-Smith continue his consistent form since coming back from his knee injury.

Horlin-Smith had 11 possessions in the opening term and finished the game with 22.

“He keeps putting his case forward does George,” Hood said.

“I thought today was the best he’s moved for a long time since he’s come back from injury earlier in the year. So George continues to improve which is good for him.

“Stokesy’s attitude to the day was first rate.

“I think the young fellas really enjoyed playing with him and, talking to Matt yesterday about “what do you want to get out of the game?”, his response was “don’t worry about me, do whatever’s necessary for the team”, which shows why he’s been such a good player for so long.”

Daniel Menzel continues to build towards a fairytale comeback to AFL level.

He had 18 disposals, a game-high six clearances and also kicked two goals.

It was Menzel’s third match back from his fourth knee reconstruction, but Hood doesn’t expect his name will come under consideration by AFL coach Chris Scott for several weeks.

“Today was certainly the best of his three games,” Hood said.

“The most consistent in his efforts throughout the game; he’s getting better each week (and) certainly steps in the right direction every time he plays.”

In his comeback game from 18 months on the sidelines, big man Nathan Vardy also kicked two goals while Jackson Sheringham was also lively, booting two goals from his 15 touches.

Hood was pleased by the efforts of Sandy Robinson in defence – who played consecutive games at VFL level for the first time this season – while Dean Gore (16 touches, seven tackles), Tom Ruggles and ruckman Dawson Simpson (eight tackles, 38 hit-outs, 12 disposals) were also solid contributors.

Geelong travels to Frankston next Sunday to take on the winless Dolphins.

Twitter: @GreenBradley

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