Youngsters sharpen claws on Crows

Over the top: Adelaide's Jason Porplyzia tries to take a mark on the shoulders of Geelong's Corey Enright. Photo: Getty Images

GEELONG 2.5.6   2.9.8   2.13.11   2.16.12 (126)  ADELAIDE 0.2.0  0.5.4   0.6.4   1.8.6 (63)
SUPER GOALS Geelong: Chapman, Varcoe. Adelaide: Kerridge.
GOALS Geelong: Kersten 3, Smedts 2, Bartel 2, Murdoch 2, Duncan 2, Mackie, Horlin-Smith, Kelly, Blicavs, T Hunt. Adelaide: Dangerfield 3, Martin, Johncock, Porplyzia, van Berlo, Douglas.
BEST Geelong: Taylor, Kelly, Bartel, Enright, Duncan, Smedts, Rivers. Adelaide: Dangerfield, Thompson, Van Berlo, Jacobs.
INJURIES Geelong: Chapman (sore quad).
UMPIRES: Jeffery, Foot, Talbot.
VENUE: Skilled Stadium.

SO MUCH went swimmingly for Geelong against Adelaide on Saturday. Even a 21-year-old steeplechaser playing just his sixth game since juniors haring around like he’d been born with a Sherrin in his hands wasn’t the unanimous choice for early March highlight.

Mark Blicavs’ remarkable story may yet explode into a round-one fairytale, but there are plenty of young Cats vying to be standing alongside him.

A 63-point drubbing of Adelaide was dripping with reasons for Geelong to be excited.

”Billie Smedts, Mitch Duncan, Mark Blicavs, Mitch Brown, there’s probably five more players who played really well,” assistant coach Blake Caracella said. ”It’s going to be really hard to pick a side in round one.”

Jimmy Bartel, Harry Taylor, James Kelly, Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie certainly didn’t bow to the youth swarming around them; all were dominant forces in a game in which Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson admitted that, if it’s possible to have a wake-up call in March, his Crows had one.

Geelong was without captain Joel Selwood, Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Joel Corey, Allen Christensen, Tom Lonergan and injured ruckmen including Trent West and Nathan Vardy. Adelaide was missing Rory Sloane, Jared Petrenko, Daniel Talia, Luke Thompson and Ian Callinan.

”There’s concern for sure,” Sanderson said. ”We had a good side in today. We were much better than Geelong on paper, when you look at experience and games played. We’re effectively a week ahead of them – we’ve had two practice games and they’ve only had one. We were expecting a much better effort.”

The Cats’ first half was a master class in how to move the ball on a windy day. It started with Travis Varcoe, whose give-and-get with Paul Chapman kick-started a first quarter in which the 24-year-old racked up 10 touches.

Taylor had double that by half-time, and was belting the Crows’ Taylor Walker into the bargain rather than drifting around the back half picking up easy kicks.

The hole in Adelaide’s front half where Kurt Tippett and his various slings used to be was cavernous. So much will fall to Walker this season. ”We expect a lot of Tex … he played on a good player, but we didn’t help him out how we used the ball going forward,” said Sanderson.

The lack of a second tall target in a team without Tippett made for an easy afternoon for Melbourne old boy Jared Rivers, who continued his reprogramming into a defender who no longer lives in fear that every opposition forward thrust is going to end in frustration. Caracella echoed coach Chris Scott’s mantra that his players always throw themselves at the contest, no matter what the calendar says.

None exemplified this better than Kelly, who laid 11 tackles.

Bartel, Mackie, Enright and Taylor merely did as they almost always do. Football starts for real in March, and on its second day the Cats showed they are ready.