Cats beat Freo by 40 points at Skilled - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats beat Freo by 40 points at Skilled

By Adam Cooper 29/08/2009 06:47:12 PM Comments (0)

A routine drubbing of Fremantle may not sound the strongest launchpad, but Geelong coach Mark Thompson is confident the Cats are as settled as they can be entering the AFL finals.

The returns of Brad Ottens and James Kelly to the fray, Steve Johnson's encouraging hip surgery and the recoveries of some other forwards gave Thompson heart the Cats could yet field their best side when it matters.

Ottens made a successful return in his first AFL game since he injured a knee in round two in the 14.10 (94) to 8.6 (54) win at Skilled Stadium.

The Cats made the game safe with a dominant first half and lop-sided possession count, as defenders Darren Milburn (36 touches) and Matthew Scarlett (34), and midfielders Gary Ablett and Jimmy Bartel (35 apiece) ran untroubled throughout.

More encouraging, Ottens gathered 13 disposals and had eight hit-outs in the forward line and ruck, while Kelly gathered 24 disposals in his first game since overcoming the hamstring troubles that began after round 14.

Both pulled up well and should be available for the qualifying final, where the Cats' opponent will be determined by Sunday's game between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs.

Thompson said sidelined forwards Paul Chapman (hamstring) and Travis Varcoe (shoulder) were also a chance to return in the qualifying final given they were training.

Thompson was also hopeful Johnson would be available for the following game - be it a semi-final or preliminary - given he had shown almost immediate signs his hip soreness was gone, following surgery on Friday.

"I think we're pretty happy with our day's work and the way the week's worked out," Thompson said.

"We have been struggling and we've been given a lot of bad news, but this week, even with Stevie Johnson a chance to play in 10 days time, it's a good result.

"Ottens coming back - good result. Kelly coming back - good result. Chappy's training well and is a real good chance to play next week.

"It was time to turn it around and hopefully it has."

Ottens had an immediate impact after four warm-up games in the VFL, as he won a clearance, and during the first quarter set up a couple of goals for Simon Hogan.

The big man was rapt to play his part after a long recovery from a knee strain that seemed minor in March.

"The last month or so it has really improved and I have got a bit more confidence in the body and sort of had three or four pretty solid games in the twos," Ottens said.

"I've improved each week, so it was good just to get back and play a part."

Flankers Max Rooke (quad) and David Wojcinski (ankle) were sore after the game, but Geelong were confident both would be available next week, along with captain Tom Harley, who got through the game after overcoming a knee problem.

Thompson said the Cats were hopeful despite all their injury interruptions this season, they could assemble their best side when needed.

"That's our plan and we're more of a chance today than we were yesterday or even this morning," he said.

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