The season has finally hit the halfway mark and Geelong’s assignment this week could arguably be their toughest yet.
On Saturday, the Cats will take on the in-form Eagles at Optus Stadium from 8.10pm AEST (6.10pm AWST).
West Coast were superb last week defeating fellow top four contenders Collingwood by 66-points.
Josh Kennedy returned to his best with seven goals, while former Cat Tim Kelly was dominant through the midfield.
Although the Cats victory against Fremantle wasn’t quite as eye-catching, they did what was needed to be done and secured the win in wet and wild conditions.
For and Against: Played 53 games | Won: 26 | Drawn: 1 | Lost: 26
Last time they met: SF, 2019 – Geelong 13.10 (88) def West Coast 10.8 (68)
Broadcast & Match Details
Saturday 1 August from 8.10pm AEST.
Watch: Channel Seven, Fox Footy, Kayo
Listen: K Rock Football
A unique challenge
Coach Chris Scott suspects that Geelong’s Round 9 clash against West Coast will be a ‘unique challenge’.
“They got jumped a little bit against Collingwood but really clicked after that, so this is going to be a unique challenge I suspect,” Scott said.
“Just because you have been in good form one week doesn’t guarantee anything for the next week, but we can only go on the evidence provided over the last fortnight especially and they seem to be in pretty good shape, have good availability and their good players are well and truly up and going.”
Containing the West Coast midfield
A large portion of those good players Scott is referring too are within West Coast’s midfield.
The Eagles have an even spread of contributors with Andrew Gaff, Tim Kelly, Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey all averaging at least 19 disposals per game.
Add in ruck duo Nic Naitanui and Oscar Allen, the Eagles have a very well-balanced engine room capable of matching it with any side.
Naitanui was outstanding opposed to star Magpie Brodie Grundy last weekend and it will be interesting to see how Scott decides to approach this matchup and whether Mark Blicavs or Esava Ratugolea gets first crack.
Regardless of whichever approach the Cats decide, Scott’s troops will be confident of matching the Eagles in the middle.
Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola are in career-best form, Brandan Parfitt is getting better with every game and then you have the star power in Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan.
The matchup between Dangerfield and Yeo in particular is set to be beauty. Both players lead the clearance count for their respective sides and have the ability to impact the contest in all areas of the ground.
Blicavs Back v Ruck Debate
You only have to look back to last year’s semi-final to find the last time the Cats defeated the Eagles with Blicavs playing in the ruck.
On that occasion Harry Taylor played on Kennedy. With Rhys Stanley and Darcy Fort set to be sidelined that approach appears to be likely once again, although Scott admits where Blicavs lines up will be a topic for debate.
“It is always a strong debate and Kennedy kicking seven, he is in really good form, but we have a lot of faith in our defenders.
“We have what we think is a pretty good mix of defenders, (Lachie) Henderson coming in a doing a good job last week was a nice luxury for us to have.
“You don’t have to go too far back to look at exposed form against West Coast and our defenders without Blicavs in there.
Harry Taylor played on him in the final last year and he has been a pretty good defender over a long time Harry Taylor and in combination with Henderson, (Jake) Kolodjashnij, (Jack) Henry and (Tom) Stewart we feel like we have got a pretty flexible mix.
“That doesn’t take away from the fact that I consider Blicavs to be one of the premier defenders in the competition.”
After being rated best-on-ground against the Dockers according to Champion Data the Cats have the luxury knowing that wherever Blicavs lines up, he will be a strong contributor for his team.