Cats Look To Keep Purr-fect Record Intact

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Mathew Stokes has been a great ball-winner this season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Last Five Meetings

Round 22, 2012 – Geelong Cats 107 d Western Bulldogs 73
Round 9, 2012 – Geelong Cats 95 d Western Bulldogs 75
Round 11, 2011 – Geelong Cats 148 d Western Bulldogs 87
Round 20, 2010 – Geelong Cats 161 d Western Bulldogs 60
QF, 2009 – Geelong Cats 96 d Western Bulldogs 82


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3       Rd 4   
Western Bulldogs   W  L  L  L
Geelong   W  W  W  W

This one has the potential to turn very nasty for the Bulldogs . After comprehensively dismissing the Lions in round 1, the ‘Dogs have gone backwards a couple of steps the past three weeks. They have been smoked by Richmond and Adelaide the past fortnight, and even taking in to account the slosh at AAMI Stadium on Sunday, they’re struggling to find goalkickers which was a major problem last year.

That problem has been exacerbated with the loss of goalsneak Daniel Giansiracusa to a shoulder injury, while developing big man Ayce Cordy has been dropped. Possibly the bigger loss, though, is blue-chip midfielder Ryan Griffen, also to a shoulder problem. Skipper Matthew Boyd made his return from injury against the Crows last weekend, but even the ‘Doggies veteran leader won’t be able to save his team from the rampaging Cats.

Geelong could scarcely have been more impressive against reigning premier Sydney last Friday night. Their ability to move the ball quickly through the corridor put the Swans’ defence under enormous pressure all night. Their hand skills are second-to-none and the kittens in this Cats group are playing a major role, with George Horlin-Smith picking up a Rising Star nomination after his excellent performance at the SCG. Paul Chapman (hamstring) will be missing but he has been replaced by hard nut James Kelly.


Key Men

(Bulldogs) Adam Cooney – It seems like a long time since Adam Cooney won the Brownlow Medal. 2008 isn’t that far back, but he has lost some of his explosiveness thanks to a degenerative knee condition. After two injury-interrupted seasons, he has looked his old self at times this year picking up 30-plus disposals in losses to Freo and Adelaide, while he was a standout in the opening round against the Lions. He has also booted six goals, something that was a feature of his game in 2008.

(Cats) Mathew Stokes – The career of Mathew Stokes was in the balance in 2010 when arrested and charged for drug trafficking. Then last year, it looked as though youngsters Allen Christiansen and Steven Motlop had overtaken him in the pecking order. But the 28-year-old has been in brilliant form to start the 2013 season, leading the team in disposals in its past two wins over Sydney and Carlton. He is playing around the ground more than he has in previous seasons and his pace has added an extra element to Geelong’s midfield.


Prediction

Geelong hasn’t been winning big, but it has been winning impressively, nevertheless, against some good quality opponents. This is the Cats’ first soft game of the season against a team that’s very unlikely to figure in top eight calculations. Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney was at Kardinia Park for a decade, but the knowledge he acquired in that time probably won’t help his young side much at all on Saturday night. Surprisingly, they have better tackle and contested possession numbers than Geelong, but that’s probably a reflection of the free-flowing game Geelong has been playing this season. This could really be a blowout of epic proportions if the Cats go anywhere near full throttle. Cats by 62 points

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