Thursday Night Forecast: West Coast Eagles v Geelong Cats

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    We’ve all been marvelling at the evenness of this AFL season, and one of the noticeable traits that’s becoming evident is how hard it is to identify a “match of the round”.

    This week, there are three such matches that are battling it out for the title, and one of them is most assuredly West Coast versus Geelong as this week’s edition of Thursday night football hits Perth.

    Ryan Buckland wrote yesterday about how many ‘eight-point games’ are coming up in the second half of the season, and they are always tantalising prospects. It’s hard to recall a season where there have been more games each round that feel ‘must see’, and carry so much importance.

    Geelong has been a funny side to get a handle on this year, just as they were last season, with similar trends taking place. They are often at their worst against lower rated sides, but find their best when taking on those in the upper reaches of the ladder.

    The Cats haven’t been overly taxed in the fixture department as it has turned out, yet to play fellow top four powerhouses like GWS and Richmond, and have had a few things go their way at the right time. The jury is still out on their top four credentials.

    Joel Selwood Geelong Cats AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    West Coast have been a disappointment after letting slip a 6-2 start by losing their last three matches. It hasn’t been a good few weeks for the WA teams.

    The Eagles posted a strong away win against Port, and followed it up with a gritty performance when downing the Dogs, which looked to set their season up nicely, but have then lost games to Essendon, GWS and Gold Coast.

    West Coast have slipped a long way from their grand final standards of 2015. Comparing this year to then, the Eagles are a three goals worse side offensively, and conceding three more goals a game. That’s a six goal slip, which is why they are now deservedly occupying a rung in the middle of the ladder.

    Geelong is obviously being led by Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, and their match-winning capabilities have been frequently on display for all to see. Mitch Duncan is having a fine year on a wing, while Zach Tuohy has fitted in seamlessly to provide run and drive from half-back.

    Those four control a lot of the football for the Cats, and rare would be the foray forward that doesn’t involved at least one of those names. Steven Motlop is always maligned, but also provides a dangerous link between the mids and forwards.

    If these five are allowed to have significant impact, the visitors will get the win.

    Tom Hawkins and Daniel Menzel are proving a formidable inside 50 duo. Hawkins is moving better than he ever has, and is having his best season as a result. He won’t be there tonight, thanks to the MRP’s ridiculous grandstanding, which gives the Eagles a little edge, and will allow Jeremy McGovern to play with even more freedom than he usually does.

    West Coast’s running brigade isn’t as dynamic and balanced as what Geelong has. Luke Shuey is their best mid by a long way, while Andrew Gaff and Matt Priddis do what they do on the outside and inside respectively. Sam Mitchell is providing his usual effectiveness, but hasn’t been shaping games as he did in his Hawthorn days.

    While there’s no Hawkins for the Cats, Josh Kennedy is also missing for the Eagles, having failed to recover from his calf injury. With Kennedy out, the focus is always high on Jack Darling.

    Darling has maintained a remarkably consistent output across his career, but is harshly judged. He has had some poor moments on the big stage, which leads to a reputation that is hard to shake.

    The problem with Darling is that outside his mostly consistent games he has the valleys, but not the peaks. He always throws in a regular single figure possession game, but almost never has matches where he gets 20 touches or more. The last time he topped 20 was 2013. Since the start of 2015, he’s only had more than 16 disposals in a game twice, and they were 17 and 18.

    The Eagles have made a mini-statement at selection, dropping the experienced Sam Butler and Josh Hill. The Hill call is a brave one with Kennedy already out, meaning the Eagles are missing two of their top four goal-kickers this year, as well as having Darling coming off a goalless game.

    West Coast Eagles AFL

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    The emergencies that Adam Simpson has selected are instructive – Chris Masten, Sharrod Wellingham and Josh Hill. Experience counts for nothing if you aren’t producing what’s required on game day.

    Tom Barrass coming in, along with Eric Mackenzie and Will Schofield being in the side, suggests that Jeremy McGovern may start forward. The Cats don’t have a tall forward line, so he McGovern isn’t required, and he can stretch the Geelong defence.

    So, which team is going to win? Is the overall quality of the Cats enough to negate the West Coast home ground advantage?

    Yes, Geelong are coming off three wins against good opposition (Western Bulldogs, Port and Adelaide), but they were all in the comfort of Simonds Stadium. The Cats don’t need to be reminded how potent home ground advantage can be.

    West Coast’s season is on the line, and they will know their post-bye four week block consists of Geelong, Melbourne, Bulldogs and Port. Eight point game after eight point game. They will have set themselves for this.

    The Cats are chasing a top-four finish, and more than that, top two and a potential home final in Geelong against a GWS or Adelaide.

    The scene is set, and we should expect a classic. If either side doesn’t turn up, they deserve to be lambasted. I just can’t call it, so I’m going out on a limb and picking a draw. We haven’t had one this year, even though there’s been a lot of close games, so I reckon we’re due.

    That’s my Thursday night forecast. What’s yours?

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (71)

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2017 @ 7:29am
      Cat said | June 15th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      If the Cats weren’t coming off a bye I’d have absolute confidence they would take the points easily. In the past 5 years though Geelong haven’t won a game after a bye in the H&A season. That trend has me worried far more than the game being in WA. Still … I always back my side, Cats by 4 goals, Menzel to kick a bag.

      • Columnist

        June 15th 2017 @ 9:53am
        Cameron Rose said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Yeah, I meant to write something about that too. Last year they were very ordinary against Sydney off the bye. A concern.

        • June 15th 2017 @ 7:25pm
          Don Freo said | June 15th 2017 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

          WC not coming off a bye too?

        • June 15th 2017 @ 8:00pm
          Bill Main said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

          Hi Cameron, is it possible to write an article about the free kick count heavily favouring the Eagles at home and losing the free kick count away. I think it just highlights the fact that umpires are influenced by the noise of crowds. It surprises me that journos seem to let this go without comment, I’d really like to hear from the umps boss to see how he tries to justify this anomaly. Btw it’s not just the Eagles but they are probably the best example. We’ll see what happens tonight.

      • Roar Pro

        June 15th 2017 @ 12:13pm
        anon said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Back in September everyone was complaining that the bye was a huge disadvantage.

        Now everyone saying the bye is an advantage.

        People can’t keep their stories straight.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2017 @ 4:37pm
          Cat said | June 15th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

          I’ve never wavered – Cats suck after the bye and I hate the bye.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2017 @ 6:34pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

          The affect of the bye seems to vary depending on the circumstances (which is perfectly logical).

          The bye seems to be an advantage for those teams who have it first up and are playing those who haven’t had it, maybe due to the newly fatigue-ised game being at peak effect on one opponent and not the other.

          However, when a team is coming off the bye to play an opponent who has had their bye in recent weeks but not the week before, there seems to be an advantage to the team who has got back into the swing of things through continuity of play.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 6:24pm
        Joe said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

        The first quarter in the Prelim last year. =/ Any doubt that crap was because of the bye (and the extra bye a fortnight earlier)? Wouldn’t want to say it cost us a flag, but… uh… yeah…

        Geelong getting over its bye woes is pretty important to our flag chances I reckon.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Chaos said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      “Three of their four losses have come in Victoria this season, and they are 0-3 with a percentage of 59.8 in Melbourne. Ouch.”

      Round 1. North Melbourne at Ethiad. Ouch.

      Also they have lost 5 times. 1x Ethiad, 2x MCG, 1x Subi & 1× Metricon.

      Anyway, Eagles picked too many slow talls. (Vardy, Petrie, Darling, Schofield, Emac, McGovern & Barrass). Cat’s to outrun and outgun by 25.

      • Columnist

        June 15th 2017 @ 9:52am
        Cameron Rose said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Bad mistake by me there Chaos, thanks for picking that up.

        Eagles definitely look a bit top-heavy.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2017 @ 8:08am
      gameofmarks said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      The Eagles will get flogged. Simpson has picked the most unbalanced side of the year with:

      9 backs – Hurn, McKenzie, Schofield, Yeo, McGovern, Sheppard, Nelson; Barrass and Cole;
      8 midfielders – Gaff, Mitchell, Sheuy; Priddis; Duggan; Hutchings; Jetta and Sheed;
      4 forwards – Le Cras, Petrie; Cripps and Darling; and
      1 ruck – Vardy

      And Simpson has been harping on about finding a balance all year. Well Simmo, if the side you picked yesterday is balanced I would hate to see an unbalanced side!

      When we are screaming out for some pace in the midfield, Simpson ignores Luke Partington who has been tearing it up in the midfield for East Perth gathering 30+ disposals a game and kicking goals to boot. Instead he goes with a back flanker who is averaging between 15-18 disposals a game for East Perth, when we have a plethora of half backs in the side already.

      Really surprised that 54% of Eagles fans surveyed are happy with Simpson. I thought it would have been a lot lower than that. Maybe they took the survey when we were sitting 6 and 2!

      • June 15th 2017 @ 9:45am
        I ate pies said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Good to see an honest assessment of the Eagles by one of their supporters; maybe if the Perth media were as honest they’d have some accountability.
        That forward line looks very thin without Kennedy – Le Cras is the most selfish player in the game; Petrie will celebrate his 40th birthday next week; Cripps is average; and Darling is the very definition of a flat track bully.

        • Columnist

          June 15th 2017 @ 9:58am
          Cameron Rose said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          Didn’t realize Petrie was only 39. I thought he was in his 30’s when North won their last flag.

          I think McGovern will play forward, which we know he can do, and Yeo is more of a utility than a strict back. I wonder what Hurn would be like as a half-forward. It would be good to see most of his possessions going inside 50 from the middle of the ground or closer.

          • Roar Guru

            June 15th 2017 @ 10:03am
            gameofmarks said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            I don’t think McGovern has proven himself as a forward. Big difference between taking an intercept mark and taking a mark on the lead with a backman breathing down your neck and giving you an ear massage IMO.

          • June 15th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Jack said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            • Roar Guru

              June 15th 2017 @ 12:03pm
              gameofmarks said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

              You are probably right about McGovern playing up forward at CHF given so many defenders named in the side. That being the case then I would expect Nelson to start on the HBF and Yeo at the CBD with Priddis on the bench. Jetta on the wing and Darling to take Jetta’s place on the HFF making way for McGovern.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 12:48pm
                Gecko said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                Proposing a Brownlow medallist on the bench! Has Priddis’s form suffered this year because they’ve now got two midfielders (he and Mitchell) playing the same inside role?

                I wonder whether Priddis’s value would be much higher if WC had balanced out their midfield by recruiting a speedier midfielder.

              • Roar Guru

                June 15th 2017 @ 2:40pm
                gameofmarks said | June 15th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Priddis started on the bench against GC. WCE can’t afford to have both Priddis and Mitchel at the CBD as they are both as slow as each other and with Scooter to tag Shuey who’s left to get the clearance – no one! Need someone with a bit of pace and muscle, ie bring in Yeo for the CBD.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 7:33pm
                Don Freo said | June 15th 2017 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

                Mitchell’s kicks go no more than 10 metres to a team mate..often in a worse position. Nothing is created apart from pressure. He has to retire. Sheed needs to get more of the game time that Mitchell has taken. Partington and Cole offer way more than Mitchell.

                Mitchell needs to be in a track suit alongside Cox, coaching players on the bench.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 4:10pm
        Baz said | June 15th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

        Mitchell & Priddas should not be in the same side.
        Drop Priddas.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Wayne said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Learning that Kennedy is still out this morning leads me to think Geelong will get up.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm
        Don Freo said | June 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

        He’ll certainly be missed more than Hawkins.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 9:02am
      DH said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Geelong are no chance on the open expanses of Subi.

      Without Hawkins and coming off the bye. Geelong are getting worse at playing the larger grounds, they’re much better in the smaller confines of Simonds, Etihad and even AO. But they’re dreadful on the MCG and Subi as clubs just switch the play to the other wing and run around the structured cats defence.

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2017 @ 11:32am
        Cat said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Compared to the Eagles Geelong as world beaters on the MCG. Which is irrelavent anyway since the game is not being played there. It’s at Subi whose dimensions are the closest to KP as any other ground.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2017 @ 9:32am
      gameofmarks said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Domain is 175m by 122m and Simmonds is 170m by 115m. Not much difference between the two IMO.

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2017 @ 11:31am
        Cat said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        Why let facts get in the way of peoples perceptions.

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