The story so far
The dominating Geelong side we’ve known for the better part of the last decade is unfortunately not the same side we’ve seen run out thus far in 2015. The ladder has the Cats just a game out of the top eight: however, truth be told, the Cats have had only two convincing wins for the entire campaign, those being against Collingwood and Port Adelaide.
However, at the end of the day, all of their wins continue to add up: as a result, they’re still in the hunt for a finals berth, despite a tough draw beckoning.
Mark Blicavs has definitely been one of the shining lights for Geelong this season, with the mobile ruckman-cum-ruck rover displaying terrific agility and game sense around the contest. Chris Scott was able to utilise the big man with great effect with Rhys Stanley predominately playing in the ruck, before the St Kilda recruit was struck down with a season-ending foot injury.
With the Cats searching for some consistency in the second half of their season, there’s no question Blicavs has been able to find that in his own form: it is a stretch which sees him arguably leading the club’s best and fairest after 12 games.
The emergence of youngsters including Cory Gregson and Darcy Lang has been another positive for the Cats. The pair have caught the eye of many fans across the football world, having played all 12 games this year while combining to kick 18 goals. Jed Bews, Jackson Thurlow and the maturing Josh Caddy all continue to impress and develop to an even greater degree by the week.
Furthermore, out of contract star Steven Motlop is having arguably his best season for the club, averaging 21 disposals with increased time through the midfield while also kicking 17 goals. The big question looms large though – will we see him put pen to paper before seasons end?
For all the positives around the Cattery this season, injuries have taken a big toll with key players like Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly and Rhys Stanley all spending lengthy time watching from the grandstands. Both Mitch Duncan and Mitch Clark have also spent time off the park: while this has led to Geelong blooding some young kids, a team with bigger aspirations than simply playing in September can’t afford lengthy periods missing key pieces to their puzzle.
While they may not be able to physically control their injuries, a bigger problem for the Cats has been finishing off games. Geelong has won just four last quarters this season, being outscored by 83 points across 12 games in fourth quarters. For a team that sits fifth in total goals per game, this highlights clear defensive issues for Chris Scott’s men.
In their six games on the wrong end of the scoreboard, they’ve lost by an average of 41 points while giving up 16 goals on average, as compared to 9.9 goals per game when they’ve won. Sure, they’ve played an Essendon outfit who can’t kick a winning score and a then-hapless Carlton team, but they’ve also beaten Port Adelaide away from home as well as Richmond and Collingwood.
Where to from here?
So what’s in store for everyone’s favourite non-Melburnian-but-still-Victorian team?
While history tells us 12 wins might be good enough to get into the eight, it might take something a little extra this year with the competitiveness in the middle third of the ladder.
Regardless, Geelong has to win at least six of its final 10 games to make the eight.
Of its final 10 games, I would only pencil them in to beat Brisbane with six of the other nine game against top eight teams – the remaining two games against North Melbourne and St Kilda aren’t particularly easy tasks either. With tough games against North, Sydney, Collingwood, perennial rival Hawthorn and the Crows in Adelaide next weekend, it’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park for Geelong to play finals football for the ninth consecutive season.
However, as we’ve learnt in the past, write off Geelong at your own peril.