Geelong have won 9 of their last 10 encounters against the Brisbane Lions since 2007 and considering that one loss contained many omissions from the Cats’ best 22, they have utterly dominated the Lions in recent times.
However, things have changed. The Lions last year matched it with the Cats until midway through the last quarter and have gained a reputation for matching it with superior opposition for long periods.
The Cats’ aura of invincibility has diminished greatly as evident in the first four rounds. Injuries and retirements have hindered Geelong’s plans with an unconvincing start to the season.
They welcome back Matthew Scarlett to bolster a somewhat shaky defence.
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The question remains where and how the Lions can knock off the Cats. Do they have the A Graders to knock off them off? In short, the answer is yes. Jack Redden, Daniel Rich, Tom Rockliff and Simon Black head a star-studded midfield.
Naturally, the key to beating the Cats is to move the ball fast and with deadly accuracy. You can only assume that if the ball gets in the hands of these players, they can hit the targets, however, question marks hang over the Brisbane forward line and whether they have the firepower required to pull off a surprise win.
Jonathan Brown was one of the keys to the third quarter domination last week, but was absent for the rest of the match. Aaron Cornelius starred up forward last week in a breakout performance; and with Patrick Karnezis being put back into the squad, it makes for interesting viewing of how the next generation of Lions forwards play against stronger opposition.
Defence is still inexperienced with Mitchell Golby and Ryan Lester becoming relied upon as being the players to hold a out-of-form Steve Johnson and Paul Chapman. Regardless of this, pushing Daniel Merrett forward will be a double-edged sword for the Lions, leaving them exposed with the dynamic duo of James Podsiadly and Tom Hawkins on song.
Geelong’ s start to the season this year has flown under the radar to some extent. Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne’s woes have all outdone the mediocre performances of the Cats. Aside from the last-gasp glory against the Hawks in Round 2, they have played undoubtedly average football.
Cameron Ling’s omission after retiring has been the most obvious, with oppostion midfielders running riot with a lack of an experienced tagger. Against the Cats this year, 12 players have racked up 25 or more touches and they have lost the possession count in every single game.
Geelong however have a chance to deploy the twin towers in Podsiadly and Hawkins. Hawkins who has had an extremely good start to the year, and Pods also playing well and having his career best haul against the Lions last year with 8.2, will fill Chris Scott with confidence. To get the results they’re getting without Johnson and Chapman in form is at least softens the blow.
Like last year’s clash, I can see Brisbane giving the Cats a run in the first three quarters. However, the Cats’ experienced campaigners and superior forward-line will be enough to edge pass the plucky Lions.
Cats by 15.
B: Ashley McGrath, Matt Maguire, Ryan Lester
HB: Mitchell Golby, Joel Patfull, Pearce Hanley
C: Jed Adcock, Tom Rockliff, Josh Drummond
HF: Daniel Rich, Jonathan Brown, Todd Banfield
F: Jack Redden, Daniel Merrett, Aaron Cornelius
Foll: Ben Hudson, Simon Black, Andrew Raines
IC: James Polkinghorne, Jared Polec, Patrick Karnezis, Jack Crisp
Emg: Sam Sheldon, Ryan Harwood, Billy Longer
In: James Polkinghorne, Patrick Karnezis
Out: Sam Sheldon, Ryan Harwood
B: Josh Hunt, Tom Lonergan, Corey Enright
HB: Andrew Mackie, Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor
C: Taylor Hunt, Joel Corey, Allen Christensen
HF: Paul Chapman, Tom Hawkins, Mitch Duncan
F: Mathew Stokes, James Podsiadly, Steve Johnson
Foll: Trent West, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood
IC: Steven Motlop, Jesse Stringer, Billie Smedts, Cameron Guthrie
Emg: Tom Gillies, George Horlin-Smith, Orren Stephenson
In: Matthew Scarlett, Billie Smedts
Out: Tom Gillies, George Horlin-Smith
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