Cats face wait on key players

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 17 Februari 2013 | 14.43

West Coast, Fremantle and Geelong all grab wins in NAB Cup triple-header, overcoming hot conditions in Perth.

Mathew Stokes walks off the ground after rolling his ankle. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper Source: PerthNow

GEELONG faces a nervous wait on the fitness and availability of two of its key players for the season proper after its opening round of the NAB Cup at Patersons Stadium last night.

Forward Mathew Stokes was carried off the ground early in the second half of the two-point win over West Coast, while Steve Johnson could be looked at for a possible strike on Hayden Ballantyne in the Cats' Game 2 loss to the Dockers.

Initial fears on both incidents were eased slightly as the night wore on, but Geelong coach Chris Scott said Stokes's injury "doesn't look good".


Scott also denied there was any lingering ill-feeling from last year's Round 1 match, in which Ballantyne was suspended for striking Paul Chapman behind play, before being floored by Matthew Scarlett.

"I would be amazed (if there was still friction), 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?

"(Stokes's injury) doesn't look great at the moment but, with those sort of things, they can blow up and be sore for a few days and then come good really quickly.

Matthew Stokes walks off the ground after rolling his ankle. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper Source: PerthNow

"While it's hard to say, certainly if we had a game next week he wouldn't play."

Stokes was on crutches as he watched from the sidelines in Game 2, but appeared in high spirits by the end of the night.

Johnson was running past Ballantyne in the second game of the triple-header, when he appeared to swing his right-arm into the midriff of the diminutive Docker, who fell to the turf.

Replays suggested contact was minimal but, if Johnson was to attract any suspensions, he would have to serve them in the home-and-away rounds.

Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Fremantle has its own concerns after West Australian Cat Joel Hamling fell on the right ankle of Dockers forward Chris Mayne, who was rolled off the field by trainers and played no further part.

There were plenty of positives for the Cats.

Jackson Thurlow and Jared Rivers performed well in defence on West Coast goalsneak Mark LeCras in the night's opening clash, which the Eagles led by as much as 21 points, before the Cats stormed back to win with seconds left as Jimmy Bartel handballed a set-shot back outside the arc to Joel Selwood for a super goal.

Rivers and Thurlow were rested in the Game 2 loss to Fremantle, as the Dockers posted a strong opening and closing game to outlast the Cats by 18 points.

"Chapman, (Andrew) Mackie and (James) Kelly were the only noteables that were available that we didn't bring with us," Scott said.

"They'll all play next game. We have next week off and then play Adelaide down in Geelong."

Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Travis Varcoe, restricted to just a single game last year through stress fractures in his foot, was used as a solid rebounding option off half-back and could prove valuable in the position through the regular season.

The Cats' forward line set-up was another positive, with James Podsiadly proving potent, playing a role in Geelong's first three goals of the night and ending the Eagles clash with two, while a bulked-up Tom Hawkins was making a pest of himself in the second half of the opener.

Podsiadly was then trialled in the backline in against Fremantle, restricting Alex Silvagni to just two touches and a goal.

Josh Caddy, much hyped for the Cats throughout the pre-season, took little time to impress, slotting a goal against the Eagles with his first kick for Geelong.

Scott was glowing of the performance of Caddy, who was given a second chance against the Dockers and performed better, spending time in the backline while running through the middle to end with five disposals.

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