GEELONG has demonstrated its intent to hit the ground running this season by cantering to a 63-point victory over Adelaide at Simonds Stadium.
Aided by a howling wind and some brilliant play from comeback kid Travis Varcoe, the Cats were 42 points up at the opening change and they were never headed from there, winning 2.16.12 (126) to 1.8.6 (63).
Harry Taylor led the way from the backline, gathering 31 possessions while holding Crows forward Taylor Walker goalless.
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Veteran midfielder Jimmy Bartel (28 touches and two goals) was also dominant, as was James Kelly, who gathered 25 possessions and laid 11 tackles.
Rookie-listed ruckman Mark Blicavs held his own against Adelaide big man Sam Jacobs, in the process adding to speculation that he could be promoted to the club's senior list for round one of the home and away season.
Blicavs brought the small crowd to life when he booted a goal after taking a strong mark in the third quarter.
Sanderson admits worry for flat Crows
And there were plenty more highlights for the Cats. Varcoe started the home side's onslaught when he dashed through the middle of the ground and slotted a brilliant supergoal early in the first quarter.
Jordan Murdoch also hit the scoreboard in spectacular fashion when he took a contested mark, then played on and nailed a tough shot from the left pocket.
Adelaide's most effective contributors were star midfielders Patrick Dangerfield (31 possessions, three goals and 10 clearances) and Scott Thompson (25 touches).
But the Crows lacked their usual intensity, and they used the ball very poorly when kicking with the wind.
It was a particularly impressive performance from Geelong, considering first-choice players Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Joel Corey, Josh Hunt, Trent West, Nathan Vardy, Tom Lonergan, Allen Christensen and Steve Johnson were all watching from the sidelines.
In contrast, the Crows were missing only last year's rising star winner Daniel Talia, midfielder Rory Sloane and small forward Jared Petrenko.
But the Cats' victory may have come at a cost.
Veteran Paul Chapman, who gathered five possessions and booted a supergoal in the first term, had to be subbed out of the game at quarter-time with a quad injury.
What it means:
In contrast to a year ago, when the Cats looked underdone (they copped a thrashing from Richmond in round two of the NAB Cup last season) Chris Scott's men are flying this time around. And their much-hyped young players are showing great signs. Adelaide is not in such a good place at the minute. Other than Patrick Dangerfield, the Crows have a number of players who are down on confidence, none more so than key forward Taylor Walker, who was horribly out of sorts against Geelong and was well beaten by Harry Taylor.
What they said:
"Very happy with the way we played today, especially the young kids. As a team we played well. The contested ball, I think we won that and we might have lost the clearances a fraction, but overall I think the scoreboard told the story." – Geelong assistant coach Blake Caracella
"There's concern, for sure. We had a good side in today. We were much better than Geelong on paper, when you look at experience and games played. And we're effectively a week ahead of them because we've had two practice games and they've only had the one. We were expecting a much better effort than that." – Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson.
Geelong key defender Harry Taylor showed he's got the ability to make an impression on the fantasy scoresheet. Not only did Taylor thrash his opponent, he also gathered 31 possessions, which translated to 124 fantasy points. Rookie-listed ruckman Mark Blicavs shapes as a bargain buy. He earned 67 points, and is looming as a strong chance to play against Hawthorn in round one. Not many Adelaide players pushed their cases to be snapped up by fantasy players. Dangerfield was the only Crow who topped 100 points. Sign up for NAB AFL Fantasy.
GEELONG 2.5.6 2.9.8 2.13.11 2.16.12 (126)
ADELAIDE 0.2.0 0.5.4 0.6.4.40 1.8.6 (63)
Kersten 3, Bartel 2, Smedts 2, Duncan 2, Murdoch 2, Mackie, Blicavs, Kelly, Horlin-Smith, T. Hunt,
Dangerfield 3, Johncock, Porplyzia, Van Berlo, Douglas, Martin
Taylor, Kelly, Bartel, Varcoe, Duncan, Mackie, Rivers
Dangerfield, Thompson, Wright, Vince, Henderson
Foot, Bowen, McBurney, Burgess
TBA at Simonds Stadium