Geelong's Mathew Stokes is carried off with a leg injury during the game against West Coast on Saturday.

Geelong's Mathew Stokes is carried off with a leg injury during the game against West Coast on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

GEELONG forward Mathew Stokes has escaped serious damage to his ankle from the injury sustained in Saturday's NAB Cup match in Perth.

The premiership forward appeared to seriously damage his ankle but, while the injury will interrupt his pre-season, it is not expected to impact on the first rounds of the season.

''We are probably not as worried about it as we were beforehand, straight after the game,'' Cats football manager Neil Balme said.

''He will be in a moon boot and on crutches and you would think he would miss a pre-season game or two, but it certainly is not something that you would expect to cost him the first round.''

And even in a meaningless pre-season game Hayden Ballantyne manages to get under the skin. Ballantyne was downed in an incident on Saturday that could draw a report or just as likely be overlooked. The force was not significant, but that the recipient was Ballantyne was no coincidence.

Steve Johnson was seen to swing an arm into Ballantyne's chest with the Fremantle player going down. Johnson doubled back to stand over the Docker yelling at him. The contact seemed at the lowest end of the scale, despite Ballantyne going to ground, and may not be deemed sufficient for a report.

Ballantyne and Geelong have an eventful recent history.

In round one last year Ballantyne was suspended for hitting Paul Chapman behind play.

Later Matthew Scarlett punched Ballantyne in the jaw.

After the match coach Chris Scott said he doubted there was any lingering ill will towards Ballantyne from last year's round one. ''I would be amazed [if that was the case], none that I've seen, there tends to not be too much friction in NAB 1,'' Scott said.

''I didn't see what happened, I know [Ballantyne] was down for a long time. I was more concerned with how quickly he got up and set up the next goal; he didn't look too bad did he?''

Most encouraging for Scott was the form of recruits Josh Caddy and Jared Rivers, as well as the return of Travis Varcoe off half-back after he was limited to just one game in 2012.

''I thought he [Rivers] was impressive. He looks to me like a Geelong defender already.

''We aren't getting too carried away, but it was overwhelmingly positive.''

With BRAD ELBOROUGH