GEELONG has snatched a two-point win over West Coast in Saturday night's opening NAB Cup clash at Patersons Stadium, with skipper Joel Selwood converting a supergoal in the final minute to seal victory.
With the Cats trailing by seven points, midfielder Jimmy Bartel marked inside 50 with 30 seconds remaining and handballed to Selwood, who kicked the nine-point goal on the run.
It was a thrilling end to an entertaining pre-season clash, with Geelong kicking the last three goals to claw back a 15-point deficit.
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Star West Coast forward Mark LeCras showed glimpses of his class in his first game since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee 12 months ago.
The sharpshooter was held to five disposals by impressive Geelong recruit Jared Rivers, but moved well and got through without injury.
In a highlight for Eagles supporters, the 2010 club champion slotted a checkside set shot from the boundary midway through the second half.
Rivers showed great poise and racked up five possessions across half-back in the first half, giving Geelong hope that he could help fill the massive void left by champion defender Matthew Scarlett.
Travis Varcoe, who played just one game in 2012 because of foot stress fractures, was also impressive in his return, moving smoothly and snapping an impressive goal late in the second half as Geelong mounted its comeback.
In the only injury concern for either side, Geelong forward Mathew Stokes was forced from the ground early in the second half after injuring his right ankle in a heavy tackle.
The small forward, who had been given opportunities in the midfield, did not return but early indications were the injury was not serious.
West Coast forward Jack Darling starred for the home side, kicking three goals and providing a strong presence with teammate Josh Kennedy rested.
Young ruckman Scott Lycett was also impressive in the first half, rotating in the ruck with recruit Callum Sinclair as regulars Dean Cox (finger) and Nic Naitanui (groin) were sidelined.
Geelong recruit Josh Caddy made a dream start at his new club after moving from Gold Coast, kicking the opening goal of the match after 19 seconds.
Young midfielder George Horlin-Smith (11 disposals) was the Cats' leading ball-winner, while James Podsiadly booted two goals opposed to champion Eagles defender Darren Glass.
WHAT THE COACH SAID
Geelong coach Chris Scott:
"It's been hard at times at Geelong for young players to get opportunities, but we think we're coming into a period where there should be some pretty good opportunities for guys like George (Horlin-Smith)."
Premiership Cat Travis Varcoe (MID/FWD, $234,400) is excellent value after playing just one game last season, and he proved in Saturday's opening match that he will be worth investing in. Stress fractures in a foot sidelined Varcoe last season, but the smooth-moving forward was a picture of health against West Coast. With five disposals and 28 Fantasy points, his numbers weren't huge, but his burst of speed and class around goal were encouraging.
WEST COAST 0.3.0 1.6.2 (47)
GEELONG 0.2.0 1.6.4 (49)
Darling 3, Hams, LeCras, McInnes
Podsiadly 2, Caddy, Hawkins, Varcoe, Walker
Gaff, Darling, Shuey, Masten, Sinclair
Horlin-Smith, Duncan, Stokes, Podsiadly, Selwood
20,485 at Patersons Stadium