The Roar
The Roar



Questions don't need to be asked of Geelong yet... but they're coming

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13th April, 2021
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The Cats have dawdled out of the gates in 2021.

First they were punished by Adelaide in Round 1, albeit clawing back to a 12 point loss after being eight goals down. Then they had unimpressive wins over Brisbane and Hawthorn, both currently in the bottom three, by a combined six points.

And they were never a chance against Melbourne, who controlled all but 15 minutes of that game.

The common refrain, similar to that about Geelong’s fellow 2020 grand finalist Richmond who are also 2-2, is that the longer 2020 season and shorter pre-season has particularly counted against those that were there at the pointy end last year. Brisbane made the preliminary final and have also fluffed their lines in the early stages.

One could argue the Cats’ wins over Brisbane and Hawthorn were about an experienced team putting the cue in the rack before the final siren, and potentially misjudging how quickly their opponents could come back or how close they might get. If not for the biggest umpiring howler since Tom Hawkins ‘hit the post’ goal in the 2009 grand final, they would be 1-3.

A little-discussed point has been how much the lower scoring and shorter quarters helped Geelong last year. No team is better at defending with the ball than Chris Scott’s men, and with so many games being slogs last year, their experienced bodies were well equipped to handle it. Less energy is spent chipping the ball around than applying fierce pressure without it.

Chris Scott

Chris Scott address his Geelong side. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

It’s a long season, of course, but right now the ball-control coaches like Scott and Nathan Buckley are looking around wondering where everybody went. Their teams are slow and stale, while the top five spots on the ladder are filled by vibrant sides like Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Sydney, and the two from South Australia.

We know Richmond has run rings around the Cats late in finals in recent years, high energy, speed and pressure eventually wearing them down, and never has AFL looked more like a young man’s game than in the first four rounds.

Geelong has 12 players that have already hit 30 years of age, or will have done so when it’s finals time, plus Luke Dahlhaus who is playing like he’s 40.

In four games so far, they have been outscored 13.14 to 6.11 in last quarters. In their last three matches, they’ve kicked only one goal in each last term while the opposition has run all over them.

Is this because of a mysterious lack of fitness due to a shorter pre-season, even with so many players that have ten-plus years of pre-seasons under their belt and therefore bring a decades worth of residual fitness? Or are the older bodies not coping with the rise back up to full matches, coupled with rule changes that see the game moving quicker than ever from arc to arc?

Now, Patrick Dangerfield has missed the last three matches and is developing a habit of knocking opponents out. (On a side note, many a footballer has got frustrated as they get older and resorted to more physical acts as the game slips away from them.) Clearly, he will give them a shot of life.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats makes a break

Patrick Dangerfield (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)


Jeremy Cameron is yet to don the hoops, and could pile on the goals if Geelong can get the ball down to him and let his natural talent get to work. Has a forward-line ever contained the previous two Coleman medallists? Still, two hamstring injuries within six months of landing at the club.

Most people are assuming the Cats will come good and it’s a reasonable position. But people thought the same thing about Adelaide in 2018 and GWS in 2020. It never happened.

Geelong will take care of North Melbourne at GMHBA this Sunday evening and should get their percentage into a healthier position while doing it.

They’ll be a respectable 3-2 and get a chance to build momentum.

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Their following four matches are against West Coast at home, Sydney at the SCG, Richmond at the MCG and St Kilda at Marvel. We’ll get more of a read on them then.

No alarm bells at this stage for the Cats, but they’re on the watchlist.