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Kicking off round 20, West Coast and Geelong are in the running for that coveted top-four position on the ladder. Join us on The Roar at 8.30AEST for a live blog of this blockbuster clash.
The in-form Cats travel to the ‘House of Pain’, where the Eagles will be looking to bounce back after an uncharacteristic loss to Fremantle last week.
Last time they met, in Round 16 of last year, West Coast defeated Geelong 14.12.96 to 13.10.88 at Pattersons Stadium.
West Coast had just come off the bye and was clearly the fresher team after Geelong had come off a disappointing loss to Essendon the week before.
Geelong was without Joel Selwood, who was serving a suspension. His absence in the engine room was clearly missed.
Andrew Embley starred with 32 possessions, Matt Priddis picked up 29 possessions and six clearances while Daniel Kerr had 24 and seven.
For the Cats, Cameron Ling led the possession count with 31, followed by Joel Corey with 24. With Ling having since retired and Corey out injured, the Cats young midfield will need to lift with Kerr coming off a 36-touch performance last week.
Geelong defeated the premiership favourite Hawks in a heart stopper last Friday night after Tom Hawkins kicked truly from 55m out after the siren. It mustn’t be ignored, however, that the Hawks played without arguably their best player in Lance Franklin.
The Cats bounced back after a 31-point loss to Collingwood with wins against finals contenders Essendon (67 points) and Adelaide (27 points).
The Eagles are coming off a lacklustre loss to Fremantle, who comfortably beat them by 63 points. The Eagles’ form shows little consistency after defeating the Brisbane Lions by 98 points a fortnight ago.
Prior to the Lions game, the Eagles were beaten by Adelaide (49 points) and Sydney by 52 points (at Patersons), suggesting the Eagles have been struggling to match it with top-four teams.
Geelong last ventured over to Pattersons Stadium in the opening round of 2012 to take on the Fremantle Dockers. Under hot post-summer conditions, the Cats were downed by the Dockers 16.9.105 to 15.11.101.
Tom Hawkins booted four goals against the Dockers and was suited to the size of the ground, where greater space is available in the forward line.
Both teams have made three changes this week.
The Eagles have two big inclusions with Darren Glass and Andrew Embley coming into the team as well as Jacob Brennan. They come into the side at the expense of Sam Butler, Mitch Brown and Brad Sheppard.
The Cats have two big losses in workhorse James Kelly and kick-in specialist Josh Hunt, who have together combined for 364 games. Billy Smedts has been dropped.
Coming into the team are Jonathon Simpkin, Cameron Guthrie and Jordan Murdoch. The trio have played a combined 22 senior games.
The key match-ups
Darren Glass versus Tom Hawkins
Glass was sorely missed last week after missing with suspension. The young Eagles backline was unable to contain Matthew Pavlich, who booted nine goals and outscored the entire Eagles team.
After a week off, Glass will need to be ready to take on Tom Hawkins, who is coming off his best game of the year. Hawkins kicked six goals against the Hawks and took a game-high four contested marks.
Nic Natanui and Dean Cox versus Orren Stephenson
Stephenson performed admirably against David Hale and Jarryd Roughead last week but is up against the competition’s best duo this week.
With no other ruckmen beside him, Stephenson must shoulder the load and looks to be outclassed.
Natanui and Cox should run Stephenson off his feet. Expect them both to be game changers for the Eagles if the game is in the balance.
The Cats midfield will need to work much harder in the clearances to make up for their lack of supply.
Geelong by 11 points
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