Thompson sees positives in scrappy win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thompson sees positives in scrappy win

By Roger Vaughan 27/03/2010 04:57:14 PM Comments (0)

Geelong were well off their best, were behind at three-quarter time and often looked scrappy before beating Essendon in their round-one AFL match.

And coach Mark Thompson loved it.

Thompson was unsure about how the reigning premiers would perform before Friday night's season opener at the MCG and was pleased they rose to a strong challenge from the Bombers.

While they still trailed by six points at the last change, they were midway through a nine-goal surge that would eventually break the back of the game and propel them to a 31-point win.

"We had to work pretty hard to get the right balance in and around the ball, to get it working for us," Thompson said.

"It's just the first game, I quite enjoy the fact we struggled and that we ended up winning the game and have something to work on.

"It certainly wasn't the best football we've played and we're not too concerned about that.

Thompson revealed he used star midfielder Joel Corey's 200-game milestone as motivation at three-quarter time.

Although the Cats had the run of play late in the third quarter, their coaching staff remained concerned about their inability to win more of the contested ball.

"At three-quarter time, we were really disappointed with the fact that we were losing contested ball ... that's a bit of a Geelong trademark," Thompson said.

"It was pretty embarrassing - at three-quarter time we said `look, Joel Corey has played 200 games of footy for this football club, do everything you can to celebrate it.

"'If we lose, it won't be much of a celebration - let's do it by winning the contested ball and getting on the move through those stoppages and ... putting the game back on those terms'.

"We certainly did that and it was a fantastic last quarter."

The obvious reason for Thompson's uncertainty about round one is the Cats overhauled their pre-season, giving some experienced players a much longer break.

"I wasn't sure ... whether we would finish (stronger) or not," Thompson said.

"It sort-of seems to happen in the first game, you don't know which way ... you get a few lucky breaks, maybe that poise thing.

"We were very lucky to get away with the win.

"The whole list - every player that played for Geelong - would have come back at least four weeks later than every Essendon player who played.

"For some of our boys, it was probably eight weeks."

While the usual suspects starred - Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel and Gary Ablett - second-stringers such as Shannon Byrnes and Tom Lonergan also impressed.

Byrnes kicked 3.4, while Lonergan was rock-solid in defence.

Thompson said Lonergan had enjoyed his best pre-season at Geelong.

Reflecting the physical nature of the game, Thompson and Essendon coach Matthew Knights said plenty of players were nursing bumps and bruises.

"We had a lot of concussions, a lot of bruises, a lot of corks, a lot of everything - we need the nine days to get over this match," Thompson said.

Geelong will play Hawthorn on Easter Monday at the MCG.

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