Accurate Cats Dismantle Dockers

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by Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth.

Geelong capitalized on Docker errors to post a convincing win to launch their season. With the return of Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle dominated in the ruck and won more clearances than Geelong, but Fremantle’s frequent skill errors gifted the ball to their opponents. The Cats midfielders, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan and Joel Selwood punished any Fremantle turnovers and shot the ball deep into the Geelong forward zone. Tom Hawkins worked as a powerful Geelong focal point by kicking three goals and creating several others, and was ably assisted by Lincoln McCarthy who also kicked three goals. The Docker’s restructured forward zone featuring new recruits Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten appeared disorganized and lacking structure. McCarthy kicked one goal in a forgettable debut and Kersten managed only seven possessions and did not score.

The highly anticipated match-up between Dangerfield and Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe provided few highlights, as the Brownlow medalists played wide of each other once the ball was cleared from center bounce downs. Fyfe led his team well, in his new role as captain, picking up 28 possessions kicking one goal. Dangerfield gathered 24 possessions and was more potent up forward, where he kicked three goals. Geelong blew the game apart early by kicking the first five goals. Six of their first nine goals were a direct result of turnovers caused by Docker skill errors. The Cats gave a lesson in how to use the ball, with Daniel Menzel and Nakia Cockatoo displaying sublime skills to tear through the Docker defense. Normally reliable Docker defender, Michael Johnson, and former Bulldog’s premiership player, Joel Hamling, both fumbled and bumbled what they should have held. Zac Dawson battled hard with Geelong’s Hawkins but could not match the physical strength of Hawkins in one-on-one contests.

Geelong’s defense has been bolstered by former Carlton player Zach Tuohy. The lively Irishman added to the Cats’ game by running and bouncing the ball out of defense to cut through the Docker lines. This was particularly noticeable in the first half when Fremantle defenders found themselves out of position when Geelong swiftly transitioned from defense to attack. Reliable Geelong defender Harry Taylor played as a forward for most of the game. He had no impact on the scoreboard but his presence required a quality defender to stay with him, which allowed Hawkins to engage in more one-on-one marking contests.

Geelong appear set for a good season. A win in Perth is always a good win. How they perform when they meet an opposition that doesn’t give them the ball, will gave a truer picture of their premiership chances. That may not occur until mid-April when they meet Hawthorn and then West Coast. Fremantle will improve as their roster of new players become more accustomed to the game plan and each other. However, there will be no respite for them over the next fortnight as they take on a re-invigorated Port Adelaide and then the reigning premiers, the Western Bulldogs.

Scores
Fremantle Dockers: 2.2  4.6  6.9 10.13 (73)
Geelong Cats:      5.1 11.3 14.5 18.7 (115)

Best
Fremantle Dockers: Fyfe, Sandilands, Spurr, Mundy, S Hill
Geelong Cats: Duncan, Dangerfield, Hawkins, J Selwood, Tuohy 

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