Thu, Sep 22, 5:58pm by Kevin Pitstock
When and Where:
2.20pm at MCG
Geelong – 20
West Coast Eagles – 22
Draws – 1
Last Time They Met:
West Coast Eagles 14.12 (96) defeated Geelong 13.10 (88), Round 16, 2011 at Patersons Stadium
Geelong – WBLWW
Great teams seem to find another gear when challenged. Geelong found that gear in the first week of the finals.
The Cats mounted a stunning four-goal burst in a five-minute period in the third term to help them seal a 31-point victory over the Hawks. They wound back the clock to the glory days of 2007-09, moving the ball quickly through the corridor and showing off tremendous skills by hand and foot. Steve Johnson starred in the finals spotlight, booting 1.4 from 27 touches and seven marks, while big forwards James Podsiadly, Tom Hawkins and Brad Ottens booted seven goals between them on a night that didn’t suit big boys. The only negative to come out of the game was the knee injury to young gun forward Daniel Menzel, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the third term and will miss a fair chunk of 2012.
West Coast Eagles – WWWLW
West Coast’s remarkable ‘Cinderella story’ will have another enthralling chapter.
The Eagles snatched their first finals victory since 2006, defeating Carlton by three points in a classic and thrilling semi-final at Patersons Stadium. With his side desperately needing a spark, Daniel Kerr ignited the Eagles’ fightback with a brilliant second term, showing the poise that once made him an elite midfielder. He looked a class above the other players on the ground and finished with 27 possessions and eight clearances. Mark Nicoski caused the Blues the most headaches up forward, restricting the dangerous Chris Yarran to five first-half touches, while booting three clever goals himself. Dean Cox was also important, spending the majority of the night in the ruck and amassing 35 hit-outs, 19 touches and a goal to comprehensively outplay opponent Robbie Warnock. Scott Selwood significantly restricted Chris Judd’s output, while Matty Priddis was influential at the stoppages with 27 touches.
Matthew Scarlett is perhaps the best AFL defender in the modern era. The 32-year-old won another All-Australian jumper during the week, making it six from the past 10 years, while also revealing 2012 will be his final year in the league. Scarlett reads the play so well and has the perfect balance between defence and attack. He’s not blessed with tremendous speed, but he’s full of wisdom. It will be interesting to see who Scarlett plays on against the Eagles. But whether it’s Kennedy, Darling or Lynch, one of those is in for a hard time.
Mark LeCras seems like a player born for the big stage. The blonde locks, match-winning capabilities, the coolness under pressure – it all adds up for the 25-year-old. LeCras has been a little down on form in the finals series so far, kicking just three goals from the Eagles’ two matches. But he’s due for a big one – which is a scary sign for the Cats. If he plays forward, someone like Josh Hunt or Andrew Mackie will certainly have their hands full. If he plays in the midfield, he can’t be underestimated.
Geelong Team Changes:
IN – Joel Corey
OUT – Daniel Menzel (Knee)
West Coast Eagles Team Changes:
These two teams played off in two Grand Finals (1992 and 1994), which the Eagles won both. When they last met this season the Eagles got the jump and led by six goals at half-time before the 2007 and 2009 premiers roared home but fell just short. What will this finals instalment have?
The older and wiser Geelong players would’ve really enjoyed the weekend off. However, sometimes a lack of game time and fitness can be a disadvantage.
No doubt the Eagles would be better off for their qualifying final run against Collingwood at the MCG in the opening week of the finals. Their younger players would’ve learned plenty that day and will be keen to replicate their attack on the footy.
It must be great to be a West Coast player at the moment. The vibe around the club seems to be extremely positive, while supporters are excited and optimistic about their chances. There is a genuine belief about this team.
However, the Eagles know the job is far from done.
What will be interesting to see is if the two Selwoods – West Coast’s Scott and Geelong’s Joel – clash in the midfield. As mentioned previously, Scott, the best tackler in the competition this season, is in stellar form at the moment after restricting Carlton superstar Chris Judd to an uncharacteristic 17 touches. Joel, the Cats’ best midfielder, could be feeling some unique brotherly love come Saturday afternoon.
Overall, the Cats and the Eagles teams match up well. They both boast elite midfields, mobile ruckmen, strong marking forwards and All Australian defenders.
But Geelong has earned the right to play off in the Grand Final and seem the more logical tip here.
The Cats are primed. They are fresh, fit and have genuine competition for spots. Joel Corey will replace the unlucky Menzel, while there are a number of other players knocking on match committee’s door.
We mustn’t forget Eagles stars Kerr, Cox, Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy are all under injury clouds too, while the rest of the team could still be feeling the effects of the brutal encounter with Carlton. And also the fact they haven’t won at the MCG for a couple of years makes it tougher to tip the West Australians.
The Eagles obviously have a chance but the Cats are a more complete team. Even if the Eagles can stick with them for the first half, the week’s rest should mean the Cats will wear them down in the end.
Geelong is in sensational shape and is back to its best. Coach Chris Scott has his boys trained to the minute and they should win reasonably easily.
Best Head-To-Head Bet:
Geelong line -31.5 ($2.00 – Sportsbet)
Also Sportingbet Australia is doing a first goal scorer special on the AFL, on top of the usual first goal scorer payout. If your first goal scorer bet scores the second goal, the guys at Sportingbet will pay you out as well! If he kicks the first two, they will pay you double! Get on!
Other Suggested Bets:
First Goal Scorer – Mark Nicoski on Sportingbet
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