Three Weeks Out – Geelong

Three weeks to go and the wheels haven’t fully come off for the Cats but they are coming down the hill with one hell of a speed wobble. The feeling in the pit of my stomach is that we’re going to eat bitumen at the bottom.


The game plan that took Chris Scott to 11-1 is only working on alternate weeks post-bye. Opposition clubs have devised how to counter it and the players that were key to making it work have dropped off in the back half of the year. Players who started the season so well, who picked apart defensive webs and pulled spectacular goals out of all sorts of places.


Kelly, Dangerfield, Ablett, Ratugolea, Miers, and Rohan. Rohan… where, oh where is the red-headed demi-god who kicked twenty goals in the first nine rounds (0, 3, 2, 2, 4, 4, 1, 1, 3), who tackled like a demon and marked everything in sight? Since the round 10 game against Gold Coast, Rohan’s output has dropped to binary levels (0, 0, 1, 0, DNP, 1, 0, 1, DNP, 1) totalling four goals from the last ten matches.


The GOAT’s output has also begun to stutter from his steady 2+ goals a week. From the outside it would look like Gablett needs a rest. Chris Scott tells us Gablett hates rest and sleeps no more than three hours a night, especially on weekends. But that just means he’ll be even hungrier after a week off. Plus he’s running out of chances to give Narkle or Jones a look in ahead of finals. Something he had the luxury to try when they were two and a half games clear on top of the ladder.


Miers has been a machine all year and is probably suffering from the team-wide drop off but with one goal from the last five matches he might need a rest and refresh ahead of September.


Dangerfield and Kelly should be benefiting from sides having to choose one or the other to focus on, though neither of them doing the midfield damage they need to if Geelong are to make a Prelim, let alone a Granny.


As for Ratugolea, who looms as the saviour so important to their structure and in boosting the form of Hawkins…if our hopes ride solely on the shoulders of a twenty-one year old, even be he a Fijian giant, we are in trouble.


The kick-mark, slow, controlled game play is susceptible to the fast moving, high pressure game style that has seen both Brisbane and Richmond go unbeaten since the bye. Geelong seem unable to pull the trigger in the back half of the year. “Boring” and “safe” are apt descriptors. They will need to take the game on to get past North next week and Brisbane the week after in a game that may decide top spot. They may even, unbelievably, find themselves in trouble against a reincarnated Carlton and their human wrecking-ball captain.


One more win all but guarantees Geelong top four but the way they’re going the Cats will need more than that to do any damage in finals. Three wins will lock up top two, but a loss to Brisbane could see them slip to third depending on other results, facing a Qualifying final in Perth or Brisbane. In this nightmare scenario that I’ve concocted with the help of’s ladder predictor, Geelong would then host a “home” final at the MCG against Richmond who won’t have had to leave Victoria since their round 16 trip to the Gold Coast. Should they somehow manage to lose all three remaining games they can fall as far as sixth.


All of this is compounded by Geelong’s much noted long-term issues with the bye.


This week is dark and every path I see leads only to heart-ache and further frustration. Every week I hope to see the spark, to see them click back into the seamless machine that had Fox Footy analysts waxing rhapsodic over them week after week. To feel what Richmond and Brisbane fans are feeling as they watch their teams make their move on the flag, to feel excited by their brand of football and the results that it yields, to feel hope.


Maybe next week.




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