While Chris Scott has now coached Geelong into seven final series in his eight years at the club, it’s now been seven years since the Cats won a premiership, and their recent final performances have been poor.
Geelong won’t finish this season on top of the ladder.
At this stage, with a two-game buffer, the money is on West Coast to be minor premiers. Therefore, if Geelong finishes the season fourth, they will play the Eagles at Optus stadium.
By then, the Eagles will have played 13 games at their new ground, compared to Geelong’s one. A huge advantage, even without the travel.
If the Cats finish second or third, and Richmond finishes either above or below them, the Tigers will likely get the luxury of a home final either way. This means home advantage is not an option for Geelong in the first week of the finals in this particular ladder configuration.
They would be the only team with this disadvantage – good luck telling an interstate team their home final will be played at the MCG against a team that has had 14 home games there.
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Should Geelong finish fifth, they would likely get a home game against the supposedly weakest team in the finals. This is, of course, after the pre-finals week off.
The Cats are not known for top performance after a bye so it is to their advantage to play at home against a weaker opponent.
Of course, they will still have to play away the following week, likely at either Optus stadium or the MCG. While this is still a disadvantage, barring injury, playing a weaker team in the first week will mean they are a little fresher facing the previous week’s loser in the top tier.
Should Geelong win, they then face a team that has played one game in three weeks. After that, it’s in the lap of the footy Gods.
The introduction of the bye has been part of the reason for the Bulldogs and Tigers’ success and can be exploited in the finals.