The Cats trialled some young key forward options in their scratch match today, with mixed results.
I toodled down to the Cattery this morning. Sunny skies and a blustery wind that made long kicking slightly harder greeted the players. The teams seemed reasonably even, with an advantage to White over Blue in the middle (Ottens/Selwood/Bartel/Ling was White’s starting centre four), which was eventually reflected in the scores. No one had numbers on, which made identifying players difficult. (Apologies if I get some players wrong!)
The most noticeable matchup from the first bounce was Joel Corey playing half back flank for White on Max Rooke. Not to put too fine a point on it, Corey was a DT slut all day. He skulked around the defensive 50 looking for handball receives and cheap marks, especially from switch kicks. More than once he got the ball back after a poor kick into the corridor. Significantly, he had zero defensive side to his game, evidenced by the first goal after quarter time being a kick from the bounce direct to Rooke with Corey puffing five metres behind, watching Rooke turn onto his right and slot one from 40m. If Corey plays this role all season then get on it, because his hurt factor was relatively low so opposition coaches will let him go.
As for Rooke, it looks on this evidence as if they’re not going to swing him back to cover for Tom Harley. His first interchange was with Mathew Stokes, suggesting that the Cats coaches are going to persist with them rotating as small defensive forwards through the “sheepdog” (what in other circles is called the quarterback) like they did with Luke Hodge in the 2008 grand final.
With White leading the clearances, Scott Simpson playing full forward got a truckload of quality ball. Unfortunately for him, he did very little with it. My count for him at three quarter time was 1.2 from six shots with two out on the full and another shank from 35m that went diagonal. He also shanked a couple of kicks in general play, including a left-foot one that was too awful to watch. Simpson did manage a Lonergan Special from a handball over the top in the square on his own in the last ten seconds to bring his eventual goal tally to two.
In contrast, down the other end Mitch Brown didn’t do much wrong for Blue, from limited opportunities. He kicked a goal early, finished with two (I think), presented well and even ran up the ground a few times. It would have been interesting to see him playing for White and getting the silver service that Simpson enjoyed. He also rucked a little to cover for Mark Blake when he couldn’t sprint to the contest – those quicker throw-ins from four boundary umpires are a definite change for this year, mark my words.
Cameron Ling and Paul Chapman, both playing for White, were quiet in the first half but fired up a lot in the third quarter, with both kicking 1.1 from gettable shots – the Pink Pig’s point coming from a speccy in the hotspot. Ryan Gamble‘s three goals for Blue, playing as a lead-up half forward, were also pleasing.
Gary Ablett jnr, playing for Blue, was his usual industrious self. He’s getting into some bad habits by kicking too short, however, something that he also did in the grannie. He’s trying too hard to be Robert Harvey, or something, and dribbling too many 15m kicks along the turf. I’d like to see him lift his eyes more.
Brad Ottens did okay in the ruck, although he did struggle to get to one or two contests with the new quick throw-ins. He also gave away about three frees in ruck contests.
Corey Enright was playing for Blue and Joel Selwood for White, on each other for at least part of the game. Apparently Jimmy Bartel was also out there, though I couldn’t tell him apart from about 15 blokes who all looked the same without numbers. Chappy did give Enright a nice bump at one stage though. Travis Varcoe did some nice things for Blue, particularly in the first half.
That’s all I can remember! ;D