Cats scrap past dogged Bombers in AFL

Geelong have a lot of work to do if they’re to challenge for a top-four berth based on the evidence of their scrappy 30-point win over Essendon at the MCG.

The inaugural ‘country game’ pitted the depleted Bombers against a Cats side widely tipped to be going places this season but it took Chris Scott’s team until the final term to put the 9.18 (72) to 6.6. (42) win beyond doubt.

Slow side-to-side ball movement, skill errors and poor kicking for goal were prevalent in a contest with few highlights to speak of but Dons fans would’ve much preferred that to the Patrick Dangerfield-inspired champagne football Geelong supporters would have been expecting to see.

Former Cat Mathew Stokes gave the Bombers a one-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter but the Cats finally broke the shackles, kicking 3.5 to one behind in the final term to seal the premiership points.

“It certainly wasn’t a game that will be in the highlights reel,” Scott said.

“If we don’t improve on that we’re going to be in a bit of trouble.

“It concerns me that if we play that way we’ll get beaten by better teams but that’s stating the obvious – we need to improve.”

Geelong were beaten at the coal face, losing the contested possession count by 10 and clearances by 19.

Scott labelled his team a “work-in-progress”, but added it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“You won’t hear me saying that we’re devastated with the way that we played – we just acknowledge that it’s hard and we acknowledge that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

“There were big parts of our game that were really poor today but they were offset by some things that were pretty good.”

Patrick Dangerfield wasn’t at his explosive best but he still led the way for Geelong with 27 possessions, with Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan and Josh Caddy also prominent.

The fired-up Bombers jumped the flat Cats in the first quarter to lead by 10 points at one stage and never stopped toiling away despite trailing at each break.

“Even in the last quarter when we were just holding up against them the endeavour was still there,” coach John Worsfold said.

“There was no easy conceding to the Cats.

“I couldn’t have asked for too much more in that regard from the players.”

David Zaharakis continued his run of strong form with 33 disposals, with Zach Merrett, Orazio Fantasia and Adam Cooney working hard in support.

The match ended early for Essendon youngster Jayden Laverde, who injured a shoulder and took no further part after halftime.

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