Geelong's pre-season injury concerns continued in Alice Springs on Friday night, with skipper Joel Selwood forced out of the Cats' 13-point win against Melbourne with a hamstring injury.
In his first competitive hitout since foot surgery in January, Selwood pulled up short, clutching at the back of his right leg in the first quarter of the NAB Challenge clash at TIO Traeger Park. The Geelong captain left the ground for treatment immediately and took no further part in the match, with the Cats tweeting that he ''experienced some awareness in his leg'' and would not be risked.
Cats outlast determined Demons
Geelong withstands a spirited Melbourne to win their NAB Challenge match in Alice Springs by 13 points.
The club will be hopeful scans show no major damage, with the premiership season opener against Adelaide at Simonds Stadium less than three weeks away, and with Nathan Vardy, Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop and George Burbury already on a lengthening injury list.
Selwood's injury was a blow for the Cats on the night they welcomed injury-prone ruckman Hamish McIntosh into the line-up for his first match since round seven, 2012, when he was with North Melbourne.
Geelong coach Chris Scott forecast approximately 30 minutes of football for McIntosh before the game and he would have liked what he saw from the former Roo, who took a big step in his return from the knee, ankle and Achilles injuries that cruelled his 2013 campaign.
Despite the loss, there were also some positives for Demons coach Paul Roos, who went in without key-position players Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes, Colin Garland and James Frawley, who was a late withdrawal with illness.
Imposing young forward Jesse Hogan played his much-anticipated first game for the Demons and worked hard, often against superior Geelong numbers, to finish with a goal and 13 disposals.
Former Crow Bernie Vince again showed his class with a 34-possession display, including one of the two second-quarter super goals that dragged the Demons back into the match.
Temperatures hovered in the low 30s as the match got under way, but both coaches had eight-player benches to call upon after the AFL did away with the interchange cap and substitute players due to the heat earlier in the day.
The Cats looked set to make short work of Melbourne as they leapt out to a 23-point lead at the first break, but Vince, Nathan Jones, Daniel Cross and Dom Tyson, another shrewd off-season pick-up, were instrumental as the Dees stormed back into the contest to take the lead before Mitch Brown kicked his third goal to put the Cats up by a goal at half-time.
But the turnovers that plagued Melbourne in the first quarter returned with a vengeance after the main break, with the Cats pouncing on several errant kicks to boot six goals to two in a term in which Billie Smedts was reported for a crude high challenge on young Demon Jimmy Toumpas.
The warm conditions appeared to take their toll on players from both sides late in the game with a nine-point goal from Nathan Jones a rare highlight as the Cats eased to a comfortable win.