By Luke Voogt
Geelong has lost its season opener at Kardinia Park despite a valiant attempt to chase down Essendon’s massive total of 1/325.
The Cats’ attack had no answers for reigning Jack Ryder Medallist James Seymour and Michael Hill after sending the bombers in on a greenish wicket.
The joint best-and-fairest winner batted through all 50 overs on his way to 142* while Hill smashed 106* off just 79 balls.
Geelong spearhead Brody Couch claimed the Cats’ only scalp dismissing Aaron Ayre for 68 (off 65 balls).
All-rounder Hayden Butterworth and fellow opener Eamonn Vines started well in pursuit of the huge total.
They put on 88 runs before Liam Molloy ran out Butterworth with a direct hit for 48.
Vines batted on for 64 but the Cats lost a couple of quick wickets after his dismissal.
No. 6 batsman Liam Blackford fought valiantly for 39* off as many balls with the tail swinging the bat, but the Cats fell 50 runs short finishing with 9/275.
Jack Wrigglesworth scored 24 off 16 before Seymour dismissed him for his second wicket, capping off a brilliant day for the batting all-rounder.
On Saturday the Cats travel to Princes Park to face the Blues, who defeated reigning minor premiers Melbourne University in round 1.
Carlton finished fifth last season and made the second round of finals before COVID-19 halted play.
The Blues boast a dangerous bowling attack including captain-coach and former Victorian player Evan Gulbis, who took 4/38 in round 1.
The all-rounder joins fellow former state reps Cameron Stevenson and Xavier Crone in the bowling line up, along with Matthew Wilson, left-arm spinner Eddy O’Sullivan and all-rounder Tom Smyth.
Smyth and younger brother Harrison were in good form with the bat at the weekend scoring 67* and 40* respectively to chase down University’s 219.
Gulbis and wicketkeeper-batsman Brayden Stepien, who averaged 43.77 last season and smacked 50 off 36 against University, will also challenge the Cats bowlers.
The Cats are underdogs based on Carlton’s form but could easily pull off an upset.
In Geelong Cricket Association Division 1 Firsts East Belmont, North Geelong, Highton, Leopold and Newtown-Chilwell all scored wins in round five.
Isaac Hogan made 101* to help Newtown-Chilwell chase down South Barwon’s 168.
Tom Mathieson was the pick of the bowlers taking 5/38, as North Geelong bowled out St Joseph’s for 195 to win by 44 runs.
North Geelong sits atop the ladder, trailed by Newtown-Chilwell, East Belmont and Lara.
In the seconds Grovedale and East Belmont both picked up wins to remain undefeated.
Third-placed Highton defeated last-placed Lara to move a game clear of St Joseph’s, who lost to North Geelong at home, while South Barwon was also victorious.
In the thirds South Barwon remains undefeated after five rounds, with East Belmont, Leopold, Lara and North Geelong also picking up wins.