Cats Look To Light Up Geelong

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Steve Johnson has been in stellar field in the midfield this season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Three Meetings

Round 15, 2012 – Geelong 110 d Gold Coast 96 (Metricon Stadium)
Round 20, 2011 – Geelong 188 d Gold Coast 38 (Skilled Stadium)
Round 10, 2011 – Geelong 139 d Gold Coast 73 (Metricon Stadium)


Form

     Rd 5       Rd 6       Rd 7       Rd 8       Rd 9   
Geelong   W  W  W  L  W
Gold Coast   W  L  W  W  L

Talk about a nightmare fortnight. After holding a half-time lead against competition front-runner Hawthorn last week, Gold Coast now has to back up for a second week in a row in Melbourne taking on the other team with just one loss to its name, Geelong . Add to that the Cats are finally back at Simonds Stadium and under lights for the first time, and you get a sense of the enormity of the task facing Guy McKenna’s men.

Saturday night’s game marks Gary Ablett Jr’s first return to the Cattery since leaving the club at the end of 2010. He missed the Suns’ embarrassing 150-point loss there at the end of 2011, but the result is almost certain to be different this time as the visitors are now a more experienced, fitter and stronger unit. Fittingly, this match will be the bald one’s 50th in a Gold Coast uniform.

Engimatic Suns utility Jared Brennan will miss a couple of weeks after straining a medial ligament in his knee, while promising Tasmanian Jess Lonergan is out for over a month with a hamstring problem. Former Lions Best and Fairest winner Michael Rishitelli is one of three inclusions. For Geelong, James Podsiadly is out with a knee problem but they regain tough nut James Kelly . Young ruckman Nathan Vardy also earns a place in the side.


Key Men

(Cats) Steve Johnson – He has made his name as a forward across his career, but on his performances the past few weeks, there is strong evidence to suggest Steve Johnson may even be considered a better midfielder by the time his career comes to a close. He has topped the Cats’ possession count the past four matches he has played, and their only loss of the season came when he was a late withdrawal against Collingwood. He kicked seven goals against the Suns two seasons back; don’t expect those sort of numbers, but given his footy smarts and movement off the ball, Gold Coast will find it hard to lock him down for the evening.

(Suns) Rory Thompson – Lance Franklin had his problems with his hands and feet in the first half last week, but Rory Thompson was simply superb against the most talented forward in the league. Franklin admitted as much, labelling the Suns’ backman a “super player” post-match, and only really at ground level was ‘Buddy’ able to beat him. Another big challenge beckons this weekend with Tom Hawkins in great form, having bagged 10 goals the past two weeks for the Cats.


Prediction

The Suns showed great application and desperation in taking the Hawks on last week, and even when Hawthorn got on top, they didn’t stop running and managed to keep the margin to a very respectable 26 points . It’s possibly an even tougher assignment this weekend with Geelong returning to its spiritual home. It will be fascinating to see the reaction of Cats fans to Gary Ablett Jr , but the Suns’ skipper will need to be at his very best to stop the bleeding as his side surely tires in the second half. Cats by 68 points

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