Geelong’s injection of senior talent this year has brought them to within one game of a Grand Final.
To bring in Patrick Dangerfield, Zac Smith, Lachie Henderson and Scott Selwood at the expense of draft picks was a brave and bold move by the Cats.
But it was also a successful move, particularly given the fact the club missed the finals last year.
When the Cats have struggled this year, though, it is their younger players who have let them down.
Denis Pagan expressed concerns with Geelong’s bottom six or seven players earlier this week and it is an opinion hard to disagree with.
Even the likes of Steven Motlop and Cam Guthrie – highly rated young players – have failed to fire when the pressure is on.
A key indicator for premiership teams is an even contribution across the board and the Cats haven’t been getting that.
It was highlighted when they nearly let Hawthorn back in the Qualifying Final from a position they were safe in.
Dangerfield and Joel Selwood are regularly asked to do too much and one gets the feeling that if the reliance on the high-profile pair is high at the MCG on Friday night, it will be Sydney winning through to the big dance.
The Weekend Preview
You can’t take your eyes off the Western Bulldogs in this finals campaign. Can they keep the fairytale going and topple the Giants – against the odds, again?
Most at stake:
Sydney just about broke the bank to get Lance Franklin to leave Hawthorn. The mega-rich nine-year deal has hampered them in other negotiations and they are still yet to win a flag since luring the star. With the Giants on the rise – is this their last chance?
Patrick Dangerfield will rack up plenty of the ball against the Swans. It’s just a foregone conclusion these days that the ex-Crows star gets plenty of the ball. The key for Sydney is restricting his impact.
Don’t expect many early free-kicks – in either final. The umpires put the whistle away on the big occasions.
One to watch:
Liam Picken is having an outstanding finals series and currently leads the Gary Ayres Medal count. We’re used to seeing him play dour tagging roles but three goals and 24 touches against the Hawks suggests he is in serious form.
Lachie Henderson is being looked at by Chris Scott and Co to play more of a forward role this weekend. The Cats back six have been solid, but could another tall be counter-productive?
Feeling the heat:
GWS forward Rhys Palmer is in – but only because of Steve Johnson’s suspension. His challenge is to play so well he can’t be dropped, even if Johnson is a certainty to come back in.
Mitch Honeychurch had another excellent game for Footscray in the VFL last weekend. He has missed selection on this occasion, but his hand is certainly up if the Doggies get past GWS.
One star is contemplating a switch to his club’s cross-town rivals. And it isn’t Hayden Ballantyne.
Don’t set the IQ:
Patrick Dangerfield has one hand on the Brownlow Medal. Every year it’s a snoozefest, so make other plans for Monday night.
James Fitzgerald also writes for footyprophet.com – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.