Game day has arrived with Geelong taking on West Coast at Optus Stadium tonight from 8.10pm AEST.
Both sides enter the game with 5-3 records, with the Cats holding a percentage advantage which has them sitting two spots higher on the ladder than the Eagles in fourth place.
The Eagles have match winners across every line and after their dominant display against Collingwood, this assignment appears to be Geelong’s toughest of the season to date.
“They’re really potent especially with (Nic) Naitanui,” Scott said.
“It is clearly one of the great challenges of the competition at the moment.”
While the Eagles caught the eye with some moments of brilliance last week, there is far more to their makeup according to Scott.
“There is always more to the really good teams than just the flashy stuff, I think the flashy stuff is the most obvious especially when you watch it on tv, but again the really good teams have a strength within their system that’s a bit more subtle and can be harder to break down.”
“You have just got to make sure that you can compensate for the odd time you are beaten by brilliance with a really strong system across the course of the game.”
How the team’s stack up?
Highest Scoring: Geelong (4th) v West Coast (6th)
Clearances: Geelong (1st) v West Coast (7th)
Centre Clearances: Geelong (5th) v West Coast (1st)
One Percenters: Geelong (3rd) v West Coast (2nd)
Hit outs: Geelong (9th) v West Coast (3rd)
Geelong has backed in the same 22 that got the job done against Fremantle. Meanwhile West Coast have made two changes to their side that defeated Collingwood, recalling Brandon Ah Chee and handing a debut to young tall Harry Edwards.
Mark Blicavs v Nic Naitanui
The biggest challenge the Cats will face this week will be how that go about nullifying in-form West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui.
He controlled the game from the outset last week and has done so for most of the year. He is a player who doesn’t need a lot of the ball to have a significant impact.
The Eagles are ranked number one in the competition for centre clearances and Naitanui has played a significant hand in helping West Coast gain ascendancy out of the middle with his brilliant tap work.
He is also rated an elite stoppage player and is ranked second behind Elliot Yeo for total clearances at the Eagles this year.
Mark Blicavs shapes as the man most likely to curb the star Eagles influence with support from Esava Ratugolea. Both men are blessed with the athletic attributes to match it with Naitanui, whilst Blicavs will look to use his aerobic capacity and take advantage in transition around the ground.
Josh Kennedy v Harry Taylor
Last time the two sides met in last year’s semi-final, the Cats prevailed by 20 points and Harry Taylor held Josh Kennedy to just one goal.
Geelong Coach Chris Scott hinted at Thursday’s press conference that Taylor would get first crack at the two-time Coleman Medallist, who is in red-hot form after booting seven goals against the Pies.
The Cats do have plenty of options with Lachie Henderson slotting in seamlessly to perform a role last round, and Jack Henry, Jake Kolodjashnij and Tom Stewart all capable of providing support.
It is likely that that group of players will rotate on Kennedy and fellow talented tall Jack Darling. Both men have combined to kick 28 goals this season.
With one of the more potent forwardlines in the competition, Geelong’s defensive group will also need to be mindful when the ball hits the deck with the likes of Liam Ryan, Jarrod Cameron and Jamie Cripps only needing half a chance to make the opposition pay.
Cam Guthrie v Tim Kelly
Finally, the matchup that will hold the most appeal with former Cat Tim Kelly to line-up against Geelong for the first time.
Nobody knows what Kelly is capable of producing better than Scott and it will be interesting to see what approach the coaching group elect to take with the Eagles boasting one of the competition’s deepest midfields.
Who if any of the Eagles midfielders do the Cats look to prioritise stopping with Andrew Gaff, Luke Shuey, Dom Sheed, Kelly and Yeo all in good touch?
If the best and fairest was held today Cam Guthrie would be in the top handful, such has been his season to date.
He was excellent last round, shutting down Michael Walters whilst winning plenty of the ball himself to be voted best-on-ground by the coaches.
You would think he would need to produce a similar performance for the Cats to win again this week and Kelly might be the man he goes to.
West Coast have won their past four games and it’s no coincidence that during that period Kelly has increased his output.
Throughout that period, he has averaged 24 disposals and six clearances. Last start he produced his best performance in his new colours to date, winning 29 disposals and pushing forward to hit the scoreboard.
If Guthrie can reduce Kelly's impact, the Cats will be one step closer towards victory on Saturday night.