TWO forwards touted as first-round AFL draft picks proved the difference between Geelong Falcons and North Ballarat Rebels at Camperdown yesterday.
Falcons’ double act Hugh Goddard and Patrick McCartin booted seven goals between them as Geelong kickstarted its 2014 TAC Cup season with a 28-point win at Leura Oval.
Lightly-framed goal sneak Aaron Christensen — younger brother of Geelong premiership player Allen — chimed in with four goals, helping the Falcons to a 15.6 (96) to 10.8 (68) win.
Geelong’s forward potency and polish through the midfield proved too much for a gallant Rebels outfit, which prided itself on its strong tackling pressure and endeavour.
Little separated the two sides in the first half.
The Falcons held a slender nine-point lead at half-time but broke the game open with a five-goal to two third term.
Their 27-point three-quarter-time buffer proved match-winning but the Rebels stuck to their task and fought the game out to the end.
Koroit midfielder Jayden Brennan epitomised the Rebels’ attitude, courageously running back with the flight of the ball in defence midway through the final quarter in a collision which left McCartin winded.
Geelong Falcons coach Andy Allthorpe said he was pleased with his side’s round-one effort.
“I knew it was going to be hard work today but I was rapt in our endeavour across the four quarters, we seemed to get better as the game went on,” he said. “I was rapt with our effort and resilience to keep fighting.
“I thought they really challenged us in that second quarter and we responded just before half-time and I thought that was an important seven minutes for our group.”
Allthorpe said raw ruckman Michael Randone and defenders Lewis Melican and Charlie Curnow impressed in their first games and praised hard-working midfielder Rhys Mathieson.
“And our talls up forward in Goddard and McCartin stayed patient and kept presenting when they were double and triple teamed,” he said.
He said the Falcons enjoyed bringing TAC Cup football — the breeding group for AFL footballers — to the Hampden region.
“I thought the ground was in good condition and the game was fantastic to watch,” he said.
“It was great to be down here representing Hampden.”
Rebels coach David Loader said the game was a learning curve for his side.
“We were OK. There are certainly a lot of areas we want to improve on, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“I thought our endeavour was pretty good and we tried pretty hard.
“Geelong are going to be a very good side so for us to only be beaten by 30 points in the end, probably wasn’t too bad.
“We had a lot of first-gamers who learnt a lot about themselves today and what it’s like to play at this level and what they’ve got to do. That is all scope for us to get better too.
“There were four or five guys who played really good footy for us today which is exciting for us going forward.”
Loader said the Rebels needed to improve their spread and carry.
“They flicked the ball around a little bit better and used the ball on the outside better than we do,” he said of the Falcons.
Portland’s Tom Templeton was a tireless worker through the midfield and also kicked a goal from outside 50, while Dartmoor’s Korry Smith and Coleraine’s Eric Guthrie showed promise in their TAC Cup debuts.
Smith teamed in the ruck with Portland’s Rowan Marshall and Guthrie played onball.
“I think there is still a lot of scope in the three of those guys,” he said.
“They weren’t in our best six but they were in our best 10. There is some upside with them too.”
Loader said Kalkee’s Josh Webster was the Rebels’ best and praised the co-captain for his work rate.
Jacob O’Beirne, Jacob Hopper, Darcy Tucker and Angus Martin, the Rebels’ main target in attack, also played important roles.
Oscar McDonald — the brother of Melbourne defender Tom — started back on McCartin and moved forward late in the game, highlighting his versatility.
The Falcons suffered two injuries, with Billy Beardsell (ankle) and Joe Maishman (shoulder) under clouds for round two.