Cats Set To Purr Again After Bye

Image courtesy of the Herald Sun
Tom Hawkins kicked six goals in the win over Brisbane last season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Matches

Round 5, 2012 – Geelong 79 d Brisbane Lions 41 at The Gabba
Round 17, 2011 – Geelong 133 d Brisbane Lions 104 at The Gabba
Round 17, 2010 – Geelong 127 d Brisbane Lions 64 at Skilled Stadium
Round 8, 2010 – Geelong 155 d Brisbane Lions 74 at The Gabba
Round 15, 2009 – Brisbane Lions 108 d Geelong 65 at The Gabba


Form

     Rd 8       Rd 9       Rd 10       Rd 11       Rd 12   
Brisbane Lions   W  L  L  B  L
Geelong   L  W  W  W  B

After creating much optimism with their NAB Cup win, the Brisbane Lions almost have to accept that their finals hopes for 2013 are over. A 3-8 record is well below what was expected, and their inability to match it with the better teams in the competition (apart from the shock win over Essendon in Melbourne a month ago) means they’ll be languishing down the bottom half of the table yet again. It should come as no surprise, given they beat just two top eight teams all of last year.

At least the performance against Fremantle last weekend would have given fans some confidence the team will at least show some heart the rest of the season. The return of Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett from suspension at least beefs up both ends of the ground, but it will take a superhuman effort to stop the Cats, who have the added benefit of freshening up following the bye. Midfielder Brent Moloney also makes an earlier than expected return from a back problem.

It’s hard to criticise a team that has lost one just one of its first 11 games, but Geelong appears to be struggling for motivation when taking on the weaker teams in the competition, as evidence by their efforts against GWS and Gold Coast where the Cats only pushed in front in the fourth quarter on both occasions. Lively forward Stephen Motlop and key defender Harry Taylor both return from rests, while ruckman Trent West is out with a back injury.


Key Men

(Lions) Daniel Rich – Given their lack of firepower up front, the Lions badly need some goalkicking midfielders, and they got one back last week with Daniel Rich returning from a shoulder injury. He spent a fair part of the game playing across half-back, though, and looked mighty effective doing so with his ability to read the game and pump the ball towards Brisbane’s forward 50 with his thumping left boot. He should spend more time in the middle as his fitness returns.

(Cats) Tom Hawkins – Last season in the slosh Tom Hawkins somehow managed to kick six straight as the Cats gave the hometown Lions a lesson in how to play wet-weather football. He has kicked 13 in his past three games against Brisbane and would be looking to boot another bag at the ‘Gabba, given he only has one haul of five or more this season (6 vs Port Adelaide in round nine). The Lions will be thanking their lucky stars Daniel Merrett is back from suspension so the hard-working Joel Patfull and impressive newcomer Justin Clarke can be utilised elsewhere.


Prediction

It was almost comical when these teams met last season after torrential rain hit Brisbane pre-game. The Cats held their hosts goalless until 20 minutes in to the third term, and a rash of goals in the final term (three, in fact) only just allowed the Lions to eclipse some unwanted records. It was Simon Black’s 300th game, and after strangely coming on as a substitute, befitting Brisbane’s performance he was almost dropped by Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett while being chaired off the field. You would think things couldn’t get that bad again, but if they don’t improve on their last home appearance against the Magpies, then it could get worse. The returning troops will help matters, but the Cats won’t even have to get out of second gear to win this one, and that’s probably a good thing for those hoping for a contest. Geelong by 52 points .

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