Geelong forward Tom Hawkins can add to his 38 goals for the season. Image courtesy of the Herald Sun
Geelong v Essendon
Friday June 27 – 7:50 PM (AEST)
Geelong and Essendon kick off round 15 in the AFL on Friday night when they clash at Etihad Stadium in what is shaping up as an intriguing match up.
The Cats appeared to have recovered from a mid-season slump in form with back-to-back wins over St Kilda and Carlton, but a loss to the Suns on the Gold Coast last week has shown they may not be the championship winning side many thought they were. The loss at Metricon Stadium saw the Cats slip to fifth on the ladder, eight points behind competition leaders Port Adelaide. This week they come up against a Bombers outfit flying high after a solid win over the Crows. Chris Scott is likely to make a couple of forced changes to his squad, after a string of players picked up injuries against the Suns. Defender Harry Taylor remains under a cloud after missing the loss to Gold Coast, while midfielder Mathew Stokes is in doubt after being subbed out of that game with an ankle problem. Scott will turn his attention to the club’s VFL players, with Jarrad Jansen and Darcy Lang among the contenders for a first team call up.
The Bomber’s seemed to put the ongoing ASADA investigation behind them last week as they edged the Crows by nine points. Mark Thompson’s men looked like a completely different side that lost to the Demons by one point the week before, and will fancy their chances against the Cats on Friday. After being rested in last week’s win, midfielder Paul Chapman returns to face his former teammates for the first time this season. Jake Carlisle though remains under an injury cloud, as he continues to battle a knee problem which sidelined him in round 14. Fancying his chances to return into the Bombers squad will be Jackson Merrett. The 21-year-old has been missing in action with a hand injury, but he put in an impressive shift in the VFL last week and is certainly in with a chance to be named in the squad.
Although his side is well in touch with the top four, Chris Scott will demand a comprehensive performance from his players to steady the ship, as we enter the final run home of the season. There’s no doubting the team’s potential and with Tom Hawkins up front, they have arguably the best forward in the competition. 'Tomma Hawk' has kicked 38 goals for the Cats this season, and if he can continue that sort of form on Friday night, it would be a decisive factor for Geelong in what should be a close encounter.