Cats vs Bombers: a clash with a bit extra

David Lazzaro Roar Rookie

By David Lazzaro, David Lazzaro is a Roar Rookie

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    Geelong Cats vs Essendon (Slattery Images)

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    The clash of the last two undefeated teams is always a highlight, but the meeting between the Cats and Bombers this Friday seems to have a touch more zing about it.

    The Cats have been the undisputed benchmark of the competition since their drought-breaking triumph in 2007. The Hawks, Pies and Swans have managed to pinch a flag in this time, but the Cats have never been too far away.

    The Bombers are very much the new kids on the block, slowly rebuilding their list to the point where they finally appear to be ready to take the next step and become a serious contender.

    The Bombers’ early season form has been quite impressive, even more so given the continual controversy that has engulfed the club.

    It has seemed every week a new piece to the jigsaw that is the ‘supplements scandal’ has emerged through the media. The players’ ability to continually front up and perform at the highest level is a credit to the coaching and leadership groups, and shows a great belief in their ability to match it with the best teams.

    There is no bigger test for the Bombers than fronting up against the might of the Cats. And it is a new Geelong team that has emerged this year after last year’s unexpected early exit from the finals.

    The Cats have lost Matthew Scarlett, and looked as though some of their other elder statesmen were coming towards the end of their illustrious careers.

    However, Geelong’s recruiters and development team have managed to inject some youth, dash and enthusiasm into their line-up.

    Players such as Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop, Billie Smedts and Taylor Hunt are now mainstays of this team, and alongside the experience of Joel Selwood, Corey Enright and Harry Taylor, the Cats are yet again defying the normal trend of teams having a limited time at the top of the ladder.

    During their reign, the Cats have taken great pride in trying to stamp their authority over any potential rivals who have the temerity to challenge their position at the top.

    This will be even more prevalent this week, as there is definitely a still a little bit of angst between these two clubs after the Cats’ premiership coach Mark Thompson left to return to his former club in dubious circumstances.

    Geelong players have always said they do not have any negative feelings towards their old mentor, and the club has been at pains to remain very diplomatic. However, the players would be keen to ensure that Mark Thompson does not manage to help the Bombers to a win over his former charges.

    As a non-Geelong supporter living in Geelong, I can certainly say the animosity towards Thompson from Cats fans has not waned a great deal since his departure.

    He has been blamed for the loss of their favourite son Gary Ablett Jnr and their failure to triumph in the 2010 finals series. For a man who brought the first premiership in 44 years to Geelong and followed up with a second, the negative feeling toward him is quite astounding.

    A little like Mick Malthouse’s departure from Collingwood, supporters can become very forgetful of what has been achieved by coaches and players when they are seen to be disloyal to the club when they part ways.

    This clash shapes as an intriguing contest, with the duel between the two in-form captains in Jobe Watson and Joel Selwood being a footy fan’s dream.

    These two have epitomised what great leaders should be, and their battle will go a long way towards deciding the match.

    The Bombers’ form has been more consistent this year, and they have the players capable of scoring quickly and putting scoreboard pressure on their opposition. However, I think this is clearly Essendon’s biggest test, and no one responds to a challenge like the Cats.

    Geelong believe in their ability to win from just about any position, and I think they might just be able to do it again.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • May 10th 2013 @ 1:39am
      Bogga said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:39am | ! Report

      I think Geelong are still aimed at September rather than this time of the year. While, as usual, the Bombers have gone flying headlong into the season at 100 miles an hour. History would tell us that they’ll keep this up for at least half of the season. Hell, they might even last til the finals this year, but a game plan built on being simply more intense and running more than your opponent for 26 games won’t hold up, especially through the last 10 games.

      And then in the finals when teams like Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong with their stronger un-drug-assisted bodies will push teams like the tired Bombers aside.

      Essendon will probably win this week, but it will be the highlight of their season, they should savour it. I’d suggest it might be the week when the strings start pinging from the heavy workload (although the GWS rest might have set this back til next week after this week’s slog).

      While, for Geelong, I’m sure they’re doing a lot better than they expected at this time of year. I suppose they would have hoped that Sydney or Hawthorn would have dropped a game here or there, but one of them will this week.

      I think next year the bombers will open their eyes and plan their season a bit better. With some subtle changes to the gameplan, they might last out next season and be competitive in finals by taking it a bit easier earlier in the season while still taking the games they need.

      • May 10th 2013 @ 8:25am
        Franko said | May 10th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Tend to agree Bogga, even though Geelong bet long, they are still doing well in the short term.

        Really is a good vs evil matchup tonight.

      • May 10th 2013 @ 1:49pm
        David Lazzaro said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

        I agree that the fast start does seem to be a Bomber trend, however, I do believe that they have a little more depth and substance to their list this year. As a Collingwood fan, I take no pleasure from saying that I think they are a vastly improved unit. And yes, I said substance, not substances!

    • May 10th 2013 @ 5:40am
      Andy og said | May 10th 2013 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      It should be called “The battle of the weapons”

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2013 @ 8:51am
      TomC said | May 10th 2013 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      Great artice. Really looking forward to this one.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2013 @ 9:14am
      mastermind5991 said | May 10th 2013 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Looking forward to what should be an intriguing match this evening. It could go either way, as will Saturday night’s Grand Final rematch.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2013 @ 11:23am
      Redb said | May 10th 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

      Good article. I agree Cats the fave for mine, just. Should be a cracker.

    • May 12th 2013 @ 1:22pm
      Deep Thinker said | May 12th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

      I think Thompson did a good job getting Geelong those premierships, but Chris Scott is a better coach in my mind. He won a flag against expectations in 2011, and last year maintained a serious tilt at the flag while blooding a lot of young guys. He is always upbeat and encouraging in his press conferences, and his use of Podsiadly, Taylor and Lonergan last nights demonstrates how astute a tactition he has been.
      Also – there was an obsession in Geelong with short kicks under Thompson which in my opinion didn’t take the team to its full potential. Scott made the game plan more direct, bringing back the long kick, which has made Geelong a far more potent team. I think he should be recognised as one of the best coaches going around.

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