All Eyes On… The Engine Room
After last weekend’s 43-point loss to Port Adelaide, the Cats will need to take the long way if they’re to salute this season. That’s ok, most fans would have picked up the steeliness in the public utterings this week. Where the road back begins is in the contested footy, particularly against this Giants outfit.
Geelong was comprehensively beaten around the ball last week, and when that happens, the results are clear: the Cats are 16-2 when they win the battle, and have lost all five games when it’s lost. It’s hard to see the loaded Geelong midfield getting beaten two weeks in a row with the stakes as high as they are but the challenge is real and the GWS midfield is legitimately humming.
But it’s about more just wining the arm wrestle in the middle – Geelong’s high-powered forward line was starved for opportunities last week and the three-headed monster of Hawkins, Rohan, and Cameron will be hungry and must be fed.
The Giants were ranked 18th across the competition for inside 50 entries this year so there’s opportunity there. Win the footy at the source, give the big boys are chance to hit the scoreboard and we’re on our way.
All Eyes On… Perth Scorchers
There’s no denying the Power’s pressure knocked the Cats of balance, and the challenge will be withstanding a similar approach from Leon Cameron and his men this Friday who were no doubt taking notes.
Port’s pressure resulted in 25 turnovers in Geelong’s back half, and 64 fewer Cats disposals, significantly stifling their ability to protect the ball and control the game. But, it’s one thing to identify what needs to be done to win and another to executee that plan. According to Champion Data, the Giants rank just 13th in the competition for forward half pressure, so if they want to emulate the pressure cooker environment of Adelaide Oval over in Perth, they’ll need to play against the trend.
The other half the equation of course is the Geelong response and you can expect they’ll be more than ready for the heat. There was a steely determination to Cats skipper Joel Selwood this week when he fronted the media:
“We’re a really competitive bunch. For a lot of us that played poor on the night, and there were a number of us – we were a bit angry at the way we performed. That was that 24 hours and we get on with it.”
You can imagine what he said behind closed doors. Make no mistake, they’ll be ready.
All Eyes On… The Form Guide
Despite the Giants’ legitimate injury worries, and Toby Green’s enforced holiday, GWS is in red-hot form at the right time of the year, and they’ll go into Friday night with some confidence, having had the Cats’ measure over the past three contests, including their 19-point RD21 win at GMHBA Stadium.
Geelong’s first-week finals record is no secret, but the ability to strike back and strike back hard in the second week of the finals is real, and last year’s comprehensive dismantling of Collingwood at the Gabba after dropping the Qualifying Final against Port is fresh in most Cats’ fans memories.
Chris Scott and the Cats’ coaching group have been bunkered down this week at the Tradewinds Hotel in East Fremantle plotting the Giants’ demise, but the determination to make amends began in the bowels of Adelaide Oval last Friday night. The message – move on, get to work, three wins to get.
All Eyes On… Joel & Boris
Another week and Joel Selwood breaks another record but this one is pretty special.
The skipper currently sits tied on 332 games played with another legend of the club, Corey Enright, and on Friday night will officially become the club’s games record holder. All that can be said about it has likely already been said at this point, but it’s not a bad achievement for a kid from Bendigo with a supposedly dodgy knee.
How long he has the record is up for debate. For those members that watched last night’s exclusive live show, they would have heard him say that Tom Hawkins will eventually chase him down. We’ll see.
Great players come and go, but there’s something extra special about the #14 – he is Geelong, he is the Cats, and he won’t let his side lose on Friday night.
Go well, skipper.