After a hard-fought five-goal win over North Melbourne, Geelong returns to GMHBA Stadium to take on the fifth-placed Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s what geelongcats.com.au will be keeping their eyes on this weekend.
All eyes on… the form line
Let’s start with the stuff that really gets people going: some stats.
It’ll be almost two years to the day since the last time the Eagles landed at GMHBA Stadium and it’s fair to say it hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the big birds, having won just once at the ground since 2005, and that was by just three points.
That form line has continued somewhat away from Optus Stadium this year where they started with a win against the Suns and have gone WLWLW since, with three wins at home and two losses in Melbourne to the Bulldogs and St.Kilda respectively.
That Cats also sit 3-2, which was precisely the ledger at Round 5 last year, following which we went 9-3 the rest of the way.
Whatever the numbers – which may mean nothing at all - it’s a big game for both sides in the context of the season.
All eyes on… Cats & hot tin roofs
Understandably, Chris Scott has been asked about Jeremy Cameron’s availability roughly 4568 times to date this season.
But his response last week was probably his best line yet:
“He’s like a cat on a hot tin roof, and he’s excited at the prospect of playing for the Cats.”
Which is roughly about how excited Cats fans will be when/if the big #5 runs out on the weekend. While a big bag of goals might be a fraction unrealistic… we could see a tangible difference to how the Cats operate forward of centre with Dartmoor’s finest prowling the forward line.
While the Cats are kicking just enough goals to get the job done at the moment, Champion Data says they’re 14th for goals per entry and 11th for Marks inside 50.
With two Coleman Medalists rather than one for the Cats’ mids to look for those numbers should start to look a bit better with Jezza on deck.
All eyes on… Who's Got Next
So that’s that. No Patrick Dangerfield for a while. If you’re a glass half full type – a fully fit and hungry Patty will be a huge boost in the second half of the season. Huge.
In the meantime – who comes in?
There are more than a few options at the disposal of Chris Scott and his coaching staff including last week’s medical sub, Jordan Clark who can add a bit of speed and dash to Cats set up.
There are also players like Charlie Constable and Max Holmes, who have been more than solid at VFL level, among a few others. And of course, there’s Mark O’Connor. While a heel injury kept in the stands last week, the midfield weaponry the Eagles will load onto the plane this week – Kelly, Sheed, Gaff, etc. means Merrick might get the gig considering how successful he’s been in a run-with role this year.
Or is it more complex than that – does Cameron come in for Danger and the magnets get spun another way entirely? We’ll know soon enough.
All eyes on… LD40 & Rhys
It’s tough to find two more popular Cats around the sheds at GMHBA Stadium than Rhys Stanley and Luke Dahlhaus, who both celebrate games milestones this week.
Dahlhaus, the former Leopold Lion, notches up game 200 this weekend after being promoted off the Rookie List by the Western Bulldogs for his debut against the Saints for RD 12, 2011.
A Rising Star nomination and a premiership medal later, he signed and settled with the Cats. We know he loves a celebration, so here’s hoping he snags a couple this week and we see LD40 in full flight.
Similarly, the Berri-born Stanley will play his 150th AFL game this weekend after starting his career with St.Kilda. Funnily enough, the 2009 Grand Final sprint winner debuted against this week’s opponent at Subiaco in RD 9, 2010 before eventually being traded to the Cats in 2014.
For what it’s worth, you won’t meet two better people off the field.
Go well, boys.