By Paul Sebastiani (@paolo016)
The Northern Blues were outmuscled and outgunned by Geelong at Ikon Park on Saturday afternoon.
Northern trailed at every change of the contest and were left to rue some poor kicking in front of goal, on the way to a 4.10 (34) to 16.8 (104) defeat.
With nine Carlton-listed players in the side and 17 players aged under-22, the game marked another opportunity for the Blues to build chemistry among a young playing group.
The Blues were held goalless in the first quarter despite it being an even battle around the ground. Geelong got on top with superior efficiency in front of goal to lead from start to finish.
Northern’s best spell would come in the second term, as they started the quarter brilliantly despite trailing by 23 points at the first change.
Young VFL-listed ruckman Matthew Harman pushed forward to get the Blues’ first major of the day after a strong contested mark.
It gave Northern the impetus to take the game to the Cats, kicking another one in quick succession as Nick Graham and Tom Wilson won the ball out of the middle.
With the margin back to two goals, the Blues’ inability to capitalise on regular entries inside 50 came back to haunt them.
Geelong showed their class and poise under pressure: they kicked three quick-fire goals to leave the Blues with a 32-point deficit at the main break.
Fraser Pearce started the quarter off for the Blues in the finest possible fashion, with a well-struck set shot resulting in his first VFL goal.
From that point on, however, it was all Geelong as they piled on eight of the last nine goals as Northern ran out of steam.
The Blues got their only goal of the final term through some customary dash from Cameron Polson, who assisted Jesse Palmer.
Nick Graham was one of the Blues’ best on the day, recording a game-high 37 disposals and eight clearances.
Josh Hill continued with his fine form of last week, patrolling the back-half to finish with 23 disposals. He was well-supported by Mason Blakey, who continued his strong run of form with a resolute defensive performance.
Tom De Koning was a strong target in the forward line, finishing with six marks for the afternoon (three contested).
The Northern Blues have a bye next week, before returning to action in a fortnight when they take on Richmond at the Swinburne Centre (Punt Road Oval).
NORTHERN BLUES 0.1 2.6 3.8 4.10 (34)
GEELONG VFL 4.0 8.2 12.5 16.8 (104)
Northern Blues: Harman, McCabe, Palmer, Pearce
Northern Blues: Blakey, Graham, Wilson, De Koning, Hill, Mullett