Geelong defeated Carlton by 17 points at IKON Park - but there was plenty to learn from both sides. (Photo: Chloe Williams)

It was a tale of two game styles at IKON Park, with 17-point victors Geelong transitioning the ball by foot, whilst Carlton continued its focus by hand. 

The Cats’ forty-one man squad saw them present an effectiveness and run that proved too damaging for the Blues – who named a twenty-six man squad across the first four quarters – seeing them claim an 8.8 (56) to 10.13 (73) victory. 

A classy entry inside fifty from Patrick Dangerfield culminated in the highlight of the day, with Ollie Dempsey rising above Blake Acres to take what could be the mark of the pre-season. 

Dempsey, along with Jhye Clark and Max Holmes, provided a glimpse of what’s to come from the Cats’ young brigade this year. 

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A strong start saw Carlton claim the first two goals, but it was Geelong who gained territory through uncontested possession to ascend early against an undermanned Blues defence. 

Geelong’s forward combination looked damaging early with Ollie Henry and Shannon Neale presenting strongly alongside Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron. Hawkins dominated Lewis Young in Weitering’s absence, which seemed to be troubling for the Blues’ structure. 

Whilst Holmes resumed his new role off half back, it was Adam Saad who loomed the most damaging as he appears to have found the sweet spot between an attacking and defensive style of play.

Draftee Ashton Moir recorded two goals in a solid outing, whilst fellow multiple goal scorer Harry McKay’s presence was notable up forward. He continued to struggle to convert set shots, but his work rate saw him carry on creating opportunities. 

Charlie Curnow was uncharacteristically inaccurate, but a late goal was an encouraging sign for the onlookers at IKON Park, who also would’ve noticed captain Patrick Cripps dominate the midfield.

Geelong’s effective disposal and cleanliness both in the air and in the contest saw it maximise its opportunities to a greater extent to the Blues, despite them controlling possession for much of the match.

The Cats were able to pinpoint targets with ease heading inside fifty, whilst the Blues struggled with their decision making at times within their forward half. 

“James Rahilly has been really good for me – I feel like I’m playing with much more confidence this year”, said Dempsey post-game, which was evident in the way the forward group played.

Shaun Mannagh showed glimpses of talent as he continued to push for a round one debut, whilst Ollie Hollands proved the power of a second pre-season.

The fourth quarter saw scenario-based work come into play, with the ball going back to a boundary throw-in rather than a traditional centre bounce set up.

Geelong veteran Cam Guthrie was ruled out during the first quarter with a quad complaint, which was reported to be a precautionary move. 

Carlton’s backline Assistant Coach Aaron Hamill has stressed the importance of key players Jack Martin, Zac Williams and Sam Walsh ticking off the correct milestones before returning to play.

“We won’t take any risks. It’s a long year, we ask a lot of the players, so we won’t take any risk. If that means that they’re not right, they won’t play. We want twenty three fit ones out there,” Hamill said post game.

Notable Mentions

  • Carlton’s backline looked to be lacking direction without Jacob Weitering, despite a starring role from Adam Saad. 
  • 2021 draftee Shannon Neale has come into this season looking fit and powerful, and will cause headaches for the opposition alongside Hawkins, Cameron and Henry.
  • Harry McKay stood out as one of Carlton’s best despite inaccuracy, presenting well and strongly involved around the ground.
  • Patrick Cripps has come back fit and continued to make his presence known.
  • Ollie Hollands will be an integral member of Carlton’s best 22 after adding size in the off-season – lining up at the centre bounce at times and classy by foot.
  • Carlton will need to look to improve their connection going forward as well as their ability to prevent scores off turnover, with Hamill noting that the group ‘didn’t absorb [Geelong’s] pressure well’.
  • The points of interest for Geelong are the extent of Cam Guthrie’s quad complaint, as well as their ability to add the run displayed today to their game with a smaller squad next week against Essendon next Friday.

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