GEELONG coach Chris Scott couldn't help but think his side let an opportunity to bolster its top-four claims go by the wayside against Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Cats recorded a 66-point win and gained four percentage points to close within three percent of fourth-placed Greater Western Sydney, but the victory could have been far more profitable.
Despite keeping the Bombers to four goals for the game, the Cats kicked 15.10 but missed a number of easy opportunities in front of goal, including a run of five successive behinds in the third term.
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"With the margin being really important to us that was a disappointing part. It wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't an outrageous success either," Scott said after the game.
Injury-prone forward Daniel Menzel did not take part in the game after half-time, but Scott allayed fears his injury was related to his troublesome knees.
"He was just a little tight (in the groin). We were very cautious with him, but there's no issue with his knees or anything he's had problems with in the past," Scott said.
"It seemed prudent to 'bin' him early."
With the Sydney Swans, Adelaide, the Giants and the Cats all locked on 56 points, and a game behind top-of-the-table Hawthorn, Geelong is well aware of where it is placed with three games remaining.
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"If we want to compete with those sides we've got to take the chances when they present," Scott said.
"You could talk about it but the players are looking at you saying that's pretty obvious. It really goes without saying that competition for spots is going to be fierce and if you're not playing well you're at risk of losing your spot.
"Then it only takes a cursory glance at the ladder to realise it's pretty tight and the small things are going to potentially make a big difference at the end of the year."
Sam Menegola (26 disposals) and Josh Cowan (20 and two goals) were two players who pushed their claims for permanent spots in the Cats' lineup with excellent performances against the Bombers.
"We didn't really know what to expect from Menegola, but we had an idea about his commitment levels because he was such a good preparer and such a good athlete, and it's clear to us that he's a got a fierce desire to make it at the top level," Scott said.
"Josh Cowan's someone we've always rated highly. Unless you're a really close Geelong observer you wouldn't know much about Josh, but he's been on our list a long time and hasn't played, so it speaks to how much we rate him that we've persevered with him.
"His place in the side isn't as big a surprise as it might be to some others, even given we have some highly-rated players who aren't in the 22 right at the moment."
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Scott said another positive to come out of the game was seeing Scott Selwood in Geelong colours for the first time and for Josh Caddy to successfully return from a knee injury.
"It was just good to see him out there," Scott said of Selwood.
"He was maybe a little bit rusty with the ball a few times but when you've missed the amount of footy Scott has that is to be expected.
"Persevere is not the right word because we think he's earnt his spot in the team and he'll hold his place based on that performance, but some of the bits around the edges in his game I think we've got to be a little bit patient with."