K rock Football

Neale nails five in VFL win

Shannon Neale celebrates one of his five goals in Geelong’s VFL win over the Northern Bullants. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

SHANNON Neale produced a performance for Geelong’s AFL coaching panel to ponder after helping himself to five goals in the club’s VFL win over the Northern Bullants at Preston City Oval.

The contribution of the versatile 202cm West Australian proved crucial as the Cats climbed to within percentage of the top eight with a 15.8 (98) to 13.7 (85) victory.

“He competed really well ahead of the ball,” Geelong coach Shane O’Bree told krockfootball.com.au.

“A couple of their defenders had the better of us in the first half, but I think we broke them in the third quarter a little bit.

“We changed our structure, and Shannon kicked a couple of goals in the last quarter.

“A really nice dribble goal from the boundary line after a lot of good bodywork to get our noses in front and hold on.”

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After earning an AFL debut in late April as a small forward, rookie Ollie Dempsey returned to the VFL team as a midfielder.

And he did it well, collecting 28 disposals and kicking two goals.

“We just needed a bit more leg speed, and Ollie provides that,” O’Bree said.

“So, he got a bit more midfield time, which resulted in more possessions, and when he went forward, he was dangerous and kicked a couple of goals.

“It’s more just a development phase for Ollie now.

“He played as a high-forward and got an AFL game. He’s come back to the VFL, and ‘what else can we work on?’, and it’s midfield craft at the moment.”

There were contrasting VFL debuts for AFL draftees Toby Conway and midfielder Flynn Kroeger.

“Conway was really good in the ruck,” O’Bree said. “His judgment and ruck craft was a bit off at times, but I thought he worked into the game really well.

“His ability around the ground to position well and compete down the line or behind the ball.

“What we love about ‘TC’, his follow-up work and the pressure he puts on, is pretty impressive for a big guy.”

Kroeger, who had been battling a hip issue before his VFL debut, didn’t see out the game after suffering a wrist injury.

“Flynn started really well,” O’Bree said. “You could see his speed, and his ball use by foot was really good.

“Unfortunately, before half-time, he got a knock on his wrist.

“We’re not too sure how bad this is, but he didn’t play the second half for us.

“He’ll get some scans on that, and we’ll find out what the damage is.”

Midfielder Mitch Knevitt, who was dropped back to the VFL after two AFL matches, was slowed by a calf issue.

Geelong will return to GMHBA Stadium for the first time in four weeks next Sunday when it hosts the GWS Giants at 12:05pm.

Twitter: @tom_king79