The Cats exit Perth with some questions answered and many still to play out, here is what we learnt from the clash with the Eagles thanks to Deakin University.
Duncan enjoys his home state
The Cats hub in Western Australia provided Mitch Duncan with the perfect opportunity to lead by example in his home state. Despite injuring his hamstring in the Cats final game in Sydney before flying out to Perth, Duncan missed only the first of the Cats three games in the hub against Collingwood. Returning last Monday against the Dockers, Duncan amassed 26 disposals, seven tackles and booted a goal in 69% game time. This week against the Eagles, Duncan stepped up to 82% game time and was by far the best user of the ball on Optus Stadium. He registered 21 disposals with 90.5% efficiency, took 10 marks, had four clearances and kicked a long early goal in an incredible performance. With the Cats missing Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett and Jack Steven, the Cats mature midfielders including Duncan, Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola have all stepped up to fill the void.
The Cats blistering opening half was made to look even more impressive by some straight kicking that saw them clock up 7 straight goals to half time. The feat was the Cats most accurate opening half since round eight, 1915 when they also scored 7 straight to half time. Unfortunately for the Cats, in the last quarter two missed set shots meant the Cats were unable to keep scoreboard pressure on the Eagles. Remarkably, the Cats would also go on to lose their 1915 clash with South Melbourne despite also leading at half time.
If you think it would be hard for the Cats to keep Joel Selwood off the field whilst injured, Tom Stewart wouldn’t have been much easier during his lay off with a broken collarbone. In his first game back against Fremantle, Stewart was impactful; especially considering it was less than a month since he broke his collarbone against the Demons. With that game under his belt, Stewart returned to his All Australian form on Saturday night finishing with 22 disposals for 489 metres gained, 10 marks and 11 intercepts. Hopefully, Stewart’s quick return to form bodes well for the skipper’s own in the coming games.
Tuoh and fro
In a year when everything is turned upside down, it’s no surprise the man who went from Gaelic pitches to Aussie Rules ovals is thriving in the conditions. Zach Tuohy has spent time in more roles than even Mark Blicavs over the past month as he’s moved from half-back to wing to half-forward. On Saturday night, Tuohy provided a dynamic look for the Cats in the forward line and importantly provided great defensive pressure on the Eagles backs. Finishing with two goals, six score involvements and five inside 50s, Tuohy was just what the Cats needed in terms of a two-way running threat. Expect to see Tuohy continue to provide the Cats with the versatility they need in a “fluid” season.