Structural shake up needed for Cats to topple Swans

Dony Dalgliesh Roar Rookie

By Dony Dalgliesh, Dony Dalgliesh is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    Not many people are giving Geelong a chance of beating Sydney this Friday night in the Second Semi Final at the MCG – and with good reason.

    The Swans have won 15 of their last 17 games, only losing to the long gone Hawthorn since round six. They have a midfield that bats as deep as the Australian Cricket team used to, a defensive unit that has given away the fewest points this season and a forward line that regularly blows teams away right from the opening bounce.

    They’ve also won 11 of their last 19 games at the home of football and 36 of their last 48 games at other venues interstate or abroad – remember New Zealand 2013 versus St Kilda.

    This is a team that is not fazed one bit by travel, in fact, they relish it.

    So how do these Cats, so lacklustre last week against a rampaging Richmond outfit, turn it around this week against a Sydney team every bit as hungry and even more experienced in the pressure cooker that is finals footy?

    1) Break even at the coal face
    Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack, Isaac Heeney – imagine if they had kept one Tom ’35 possessions a game’ Mitchell.

    The above names are a scary proposition for any side, but the Cats do have the names to go with them.

    Patrick Dangerfield had the most contested possessions in the league this season, we all know who Joel Selwood is, while his brother Scott and Mitch Duncan were two of their best last week.

    They all need to fire along with Sam Menegola and Mark Blicavs this week to match it with the Swans star-studded midfield.

    2) Harry Taylor needs to go back
    Before his move to an occasionally dangerous forward, remember this man as a dominant, intercept marking and spoiling two-time All Australian defender?

    Cats fans certainly would, and Harry T needs to go back to that role to help quell Sydney’s dangerous tall timber.

    Taylor is one of the best in the business at organising play from behind the ball and if things go south for the Cats, they can always throw him into the aforementioned occasionally dangerous forward role to shake things up.

    3) Passengers last week, driving seat this week
    Following and even during the game against The Tigers, Cats fans were calling for the head of a few mid-tier players.

    As much as the Geelong match committee might like to make sweeping changes after last week, these mid-tier passengers of last week all have significant upside and the time is now for them to step up in September. We’re talking Menegola, Blicavs, Steven Motlop, Brandon Parfitt, James Parsons and Jordan Murdoch.

    4) Personnel and structural change
    With Dan Menzel already forecast to replace the injured Cam Guthrie, Chris Scott doesn’t exactly have a plethora of options screaming out for selection.

    But he does have a few and, after such a disappointing outing in a final, changes need to be strongly considered with it all on the line. There are two questions though.

    How do they strengthen the team and who gets omitted?

    In this case, the need to drop someone from the side may be greater than bringing someone in. Along with the aforementioned passengers of last week, a few players would not feel completely safe when the coach reads the team out this week.

    Apart from last week, Menegola had been a fine support act to Danger and Duncan in the captain’s absence around the ball, along with booting a more than handy 14 goals for the season.

    Blicavs is not only a former steeplechaser but a former Best and Fairest winner who can play a multitude of roles.

    While we all know what Stevie Motlop can bring, not many of us know why he hasn’t brought it more often and probably only he knows whether he’ll be at Kardinia Park next year.

    But he’s there now and his goal sense is undeniable. Throw him forward for longer and see how he goes.

    As for the two Par’s, young Parfitt and Parsons, had speedy trio Nakia Cockatoo, Lincoln McCarthy and Cory Gregson been available then those boys may not be in the team.

    However, they can add a touch of class up forward and will need to play their role.

    Then there are first-year defenders Tom Stewart and Zach Guthrie. Stewart had moments he’d like to forget last week, but on the whole, has had an outstanding season down back.

    As for baby Guthrie, his poise in the heat of a first final was super impressive and his presence allows Zach Tuohy and Jed Bews to give the drive off the half back line the Cats need, so he stays.

    Which brings us to the last of the (last time I’ll use it) passengers and the man who should be omitted from the team this week – Jordan Murdoch.

    Some may disagree and say a Parsons or Zach Guthrie should make way, but the experience those youngsters will get from playing another final will be invaluable and they’ll be much better for the run.

    Murdoch has arguably had his most consistent season. But the Cats need more from him and the question has to be asked – after 92 games, has he really improved to the level Geelong people thought he would?

    His main assets, his speed, tackling pressure and goal snagging ability have been there in glimpses, but far too infrequent and the time may have come for him to make way.

    Geelong Cats coach Chris Scott

    Chris Scott has some decisions to make at the selection table. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Who for? With the backline and midfield fairly well served, the forward half needs a boost and some further unpredictability, to go with the x-factor that Menzel will provide.

    Cue Rhys Stanley.

    Rhys Stanley?! “He’s far too inconsistent” most would say and it’s hard to argue with them. Seven goals from 11 games this season would hardly strike fear into the Swans defence.

    But a man standing 200cm who has been known to take a pluck, as well as being the winner of the 2009 grand final sprint, could just make this well structured Sydney defence sweat a tiny bit.

    If Lewis Melican doesn’t come up for the Bloods, it might be left to 188cm Dane Rampe to support Heath Grundy against this new look Cats forward line.

    At the very least, Stanley will take some of the pressure off Tom Hawkins and Menzel, as well as giving Zac Smith a chop out in the middle, leaving Blicavs to play a more traditional midfield or wing role.

    So that’s what the Cats need. Match it with the Swans superstar engine room, send Harry back, have far fewer p words, drop Jordan and play big Rhys.

    Sounds so simple! In his seven seasons in charge, Chris Scott has preached versatility and unpredictability and Geelong will also need both of those things, along with a bit of luck if they’re to seriously challenge the in form team in the comp.

    Even then, it just may not be enough.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • September 14th 2017 @ 6:43pm
      Glenn said | September 14th 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

      Unfortunately all if the above has been written in isolation, much like the idea that Essendon’s speed could prove a factor. A problem for the Cats is that their players just aren’t that good. The Swans are settled, full strength and supremely confident and there are probably only about 4 Cats players that might contest for a spot in the Swans team.

      • September 15th 2017 @ 1:31pm
        Gecko said | September 15th 2017 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

        Agreed. Those runners actually don’t have much upside. None will step up to assist Duncan and Dangerfield. They’ll get murdered tonight by a Swans midfield that murders B-grade midfields but normally struggles in finals against A-grade midfields.

    • September 14th 2017 @ 9:25pm
      Ajax said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

      I had been pessamistic about the Cats chances all year and the Tigers exposed many flaws in thier game. Im not sure any changes to the 22 will make any difference at all, but perhaps a Stanley will be a game changer as it forces some key matchup changes as you suggest. The cats will need to produce something drastically different to disrupt this Swans team.

      • September 15th 2017 @ 3:38pm
        Gecko said | September 15th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

        Against most teams, Stanley up front allowing Taylor to start down back would be a good option.

        However against the Swans, Taylor is less needed down back because the Swans don’t use a 3rd tall forward (Henderson can take Reid) and don’t tend to bomb blindly to interceptors like Harry.

        Geelong probably need to keep Murdoch or another runner who applies better defensive pressure and can play up forward or down back, giving them flexibility.

        Stanley is probably ready to move to another club and have one last chance (along with all the other dud centre half forwards like Kersten, Cloke, Griffith, Vickery, and Majak Daw).

    • September 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm
      Powerboy said | September 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

      Here’s a tip, Dony…. The fact that Blicavs is a “former steeplechaser” means bugger all. They are all supposedly “elite” athletes. What they used to do means nothing. The fact that a full forward in a team might be a qualified surveyor does not make him any mere accurate when kicking for goal, despite his experience with laser accuracy.
      Whenever I read that bunkum about Blicav, or any other player, I just swipe left. Cheers.

    • September 16th 2017 @ 5:28pm
      Dony Dalgliesh said | September 16th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

      I think its much easier to make a case for the warm favourites then give an argument for the underdogs. cheers for your thoughts gentlemen

    • September 17th 2017 @ 11:58am
      Bernard Hickey said | September 17th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      Scott must have read it
      What next o grand seer?

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