This one is mine... Collingwood's Travis Cloke makes sure that the ball stays within his grasp as Geelong's Harry Taylor challenges. Photo: Pat Scala
GEELONG 0.5.3 0.8.6 0.11.7 0.16.8 (104) COLLINGWOOD 0.3.5 0.5.6 1.8.10 1.13.15 (102)
NINE POINTERS Geelong: Nil. Collingwood: Beams.
GOALS Geelong: Hawkins 4, Brown 2, Duncan 2, Schroder 2, Burbury, Kelly, Walker, Vardy, Johnson, Varcoe. Collingwood: White 5, Kennedy 2, O’Brien, Lynch, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Adams, Cloke.
Best: Geelong: C Guthrie C Enright J Caddy M Stokes M Duncan. Collingwood: D Beams B Kennedy J White T Adams L Ball.
Injuries: Geelong: G Burbury (broken jaw) J Stringer (hamstring tightness). Collingwood: N Freeman (hamstring) T Broomhead (broken hand).
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, Nicholas Foot, Andrew Stephens.
Official Crowd: 12,140 at Simonds Stadium.
Football in February invariably coughs up the uncommon or hitherto unseen. In the first quarter on Wednesday night, Corey Enright fumbled, Steve Johnson shanked a lookaway across-the-body trick shot straight along the ground, and Heritier Lumumba kicked a goal for Collingwood.
At least there's a good chance the latter will be repeated when the serious business begins, especially if the Magpie who made his name as Harry O'Brien the half-back continues to be stationed further up the ground. The other oddities in the first game of 2014 are for rusty players and keen coaches to rectify.
NAB: 18 Games in 18 Days
Young cats fans excited the footys back for 2014. Photo: Pat Scala
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Hawkins (0.4.0), Brown (0.2.0), Duncan (0.2.0), Schroder (0.2.0), Vardy (0.1.2), Burbury (0.1.1), Johnson (0.1.1), Walker (0.1.1), Kelly (0.1.0), Varcoe (0.1.0), Stokes (0.0.1)||Scorers||Beams (1.0.1), White (0.5.0), Kennedy (0.2.1), Sidebottom (0.1.3), Lynch (0.1.2), Cloke (0.1.1), Adams (0.1.0), Lumumba (0.1.0), Pendlebury (0.1.0), Elliott (0.0.2), Broomhead (0.0.1), Clarke (0.0.1), Grundy (0.0.1)|
Geelong won the night by two points, for what it's worth in a competition that has finally owned up to practice-match status. Conveniently, the contest was at its best at the death, the Cats kicking four in a row to regain the lead of a game that seemed lost, Jesse White putting the Magpies back in front with his fifth goal, before Jordan Schroder screwed home his second with a minute on the clock.
The roar from the locals as the siren sounded with the ball sailing into Collingwood's forward line once more betrayed that no matter the time of year or label on the occasion, a win is a win.
Trend-spotters seeking something meaningful might have identified new director of umpiring Wayne Campbell as an early eye-catcher, with only 27 free kicks paid for the game. A more forgiving approach to contact in marking contests was evident, not least in White's last goal after marking behind a sprawling Harry Taylor.
High on a club's pre-season game wishlist is escaping injury-free, and both were denied. For the Pies, pacy draftee Nathan Freeman pinged a hamstring and Tim Broomhead hurt a hand, which kept the extended bench of six and two subs busy. But it was George Burbury's sickening injury that served as a reminder that football is a fierce contact sport.
Having impressed up forward, Burbury copped a knee to the face as he slid into a marking contest and left the ground in an ambulance with a suspected broken jaw.
Several officials spent the half-time break searching the turf at full-forward for his teeth, but Cats coach Chris Scott said after the game they were all still in Burbury's mouth. Scott confirmed the youngster will have surgery but that the injury was not as bad as first feared.
Another Geelong youngster, Jesse Stringer, only lasted a few minutes before being subbed out.
The Cats were more composed early, Burbury opening the scoring and Johnson, Travis Varcoe, James Kelly and Mitch Duncan all taking advantage of an opponent that seemed uncertain in defence. Brodie Grundy's 20-minute absence after a heavy knock was noteworthy, as Dawson Simpson dined out on Quinten Lynch and White in the ruck.
The Magpies fielded a team more in keeping with the calendar, with former Swans White and Tony Armstrong and ex-Giant Taylor Adams joined by draftees Tom Langdon, Jonathon Marsh and Freeman. Jackson Ramsay and Broomhead fleshed out a group yet to appear in black and white stripes in a meaningful game.
White kicked five goals, although it was hard to draw a line on his potential worth as a foil to Travis Cloke as he took only one mark and Cloke rarely got near the ball. Ramsay showed some nice run, but Adams was the standout, the former Geelong Falcon relishing a return to an old stomping ground with a 31-possession game noteworthy for his work in the clinches.
Returning from long-term injuries, Clinton Young and Lachie Keeffe would have been happy just to get through.
Geelong had Joel Selwood in the commentary box, Steve Motlop and Allen Christensen busy trying to get fit for round one, and saved Hamish McIntosh for the Melbourne game in Alice Springs. None of its 2013 draftees appeared, which left Lincoln McCarthy the most interesting newbie.
McCarthy's AFL career has thus far amounted to one senior game and one trip to London for surgery on his navicular bone, but his foot is healthy and the Cats are looking forward to seeing more of him. He sat Armstrong on his backside early and got his own back when Taylor put him in Jack Frost's path in the last quarter.
Mitch Brown and Nathan Vardy joined Tom Hawkins in a forward line now without James Podsiadly, but elsewhere the Cats were business as usual, not least in Stokes racking up 39 touches.
Enright was similarly prolific, and Cam Guthrie began his push to spend more time in the midfield with a game full of industry and polish.