Holmes stars as Cats overcome Dons

March 1, 2024 9:50 pm in by AAP
Geelong young gun Max Holmes impressed in the Community Series win over Essendon. (Michael Willson/AFL Phots via Getty Images)

Geelong speedster Max Holmes has shone in his new role at half-back to help lift the Cats to a 12-point win over Essendon in their AFL community series clash.

Highlighted by coach Chris Scott as a player to watch this season, Holmes had a huge influence as a playmaker in the home side’s 11.17 (83) to 10.11 (71) victory at GHMBA Stadium on Friday night.

The Cats kicked five consecutive goals in the final quarter to run over the top of the Bombers, who lost Jordan Ridley to a quadriceps injury.

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Tyson Stengle kicked three majors for Geelong, with Mark Blicavs (20 disposals), Tanner Bruhn (20) and Mitch Duncan (21 touches) finding plenty of the ball.

Emerging forward Ollie Dempsey (15 disposals, one goal) also showed good signs, but it was Holmes who most caught the eye.

The 21-year-old, who missed Geelong’s 2022 premiership through injury, now shapes as a central figure in Scott’s plans to return to the summit this year.

Holmes used his pace to distribute the ball off half-back against Essendon and had stints through the midfield, finishing with 29 disposals and a goal.

He also had a game-high 645 metres gained – 579 of those in the first half.

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Holmes sparked a brief scare when needing his left ankle assessed after being run down in a final quarter tackle but gave fans a thumbs-up on the big screen as he laughed off the incident.

He finished the game with ice on the joint.

Kyle Langford (three), Nic Martin and off-season recruit Jade Gresham (both two) all kicked multiple goals for Essendon, who led for most of the tightly- contested game before fading in the final term.

Darcy Parish (34 disposals), Andrew McGrath (31) and Martin (28) were typically busy for the Bombers, and Jake Stringer (15, one goal) was in the thick of the action early.

Just days after signing a new long-term contract, Ridley was hurt during the third term and was consoled by teammates at the three-quarter time huddle.

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The latest setback comes after the 25-year-old had his 2023 season cut short by a similar injury and puts him in doubt for the Bombers’ round-one clash with Hawthorn on March 16.

Geelong start their campaign on the same day when they will officially unveil the new Joel Selwood stand at GMHBA Stadium against St Kilda.

(C) AAP 2024