Felines Face Off At The 'G

Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au, Photo: Michael Klein
Dustin Martin has lifted his output in 2013. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Michael Klein
Last Five Meetings

Round 4, 2012 – Geelong Cats 75 d Richmond Tigers 65 (Simonds)
Round 18, 2011 – Geelong Cats 113 d Richmond Tigers 51 (Etihad)
Round 6, 2010 – Geelong Cats 161 d Richmond Tigers 53 (Simonds)
Round 2, 2009 – Geelong Cats 105 d Richmond Tigers 85 (Simonds)
Round 18, 2008 – Geelong Cats 134 d Richmond Tigers 71 (Etihad)


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3       Rd 4       Rd 5   
Richmond   W  W  W  L  L
Geelong   W  W  W  W  W

Richmond has lost its past eight to the Cats by an average of 65 points , and there have been some frightful beatings in there (anyone remember the 157-point drubbing back in 2007?). It gets worse as Richmond has won just one of the last 16 contests between the sides. The good news for the Tigers is that last year they managed to keep the gap to just 10 points .

After starting the year with three straight wins, Richmond has hit a road bump with back-to-back losses to Collingwood and Fremantle. The Tigers had a golden opportunity to beat a Dockers team light on big men last week, but the home side scraped by just a single point, with a little help from an overzealous goal umpire. Jake King (corked thigh), Troy Chaplin (calf) and Steven Morris (suspension) all return with the inconsistent Robin Nahas dropped.

Geelong did what it had to do in keeping its unbeaten record alive last week against the young Bulldogs. Tom Hawkins was a late withdrawal last week with a back issue, but he and Paul Chapman (hamstring) both return to the line-up for the Tigers clash. Defender Jared Rivers suffered a knee problem against the ‘Dogs which is worse than first thought, and he looks set to be sidelined for the next couple of months.


Key Men

(Tigers) Dustin Martin – There is plenty of pressure associated with being a No. 3 draft pick, and it’s fair to say Dustin Martin has taken some time to mature during his three-and-a-bit years in the AFL. After a disappointing 2012, he seems to have found his mojo this year, and was particularly impressive in the round 3 win over the Bulldogs racking up 35 touches, 10 marks and two goals. Not surprisingly he was quieter in the losses to the Magpies and Dockers, but an encouraging sign was his tackle count last week in a high pressure contest, something he hasn’t exactly been renowned for in previous seasons. Maybe the switch has flicked and we can expect a more consistent season from the mecurial Martin.

(Cats) Harry Taylor – There aren’t too many fullbacks who can go forward as successfully as Harry Taylor on his rare forays to the other end of the ground. The Lions’ Daniel Merrett spent plenty of time at full forward in his early years and kicked five in the first quarter in the demolition of GWS last season. Ben Rutten bagged three goals with his first three kicks in league footy many moons ago. But Taylor seems to do it with regularity every time he gets an opportunity forward of centre. He booted five against the Bulldogs last week and now has nine goals for the season. Add that to the six he nailed against GWS in 2012, and he presents a genuine option at either end of the ground for Chris Scott, which is a nice luxury to have in a team which isn’t exactly short of options in the forward line. He was an All-Australian defender in 2010, and that’s where he’ll play on Saturday, especially given Jared Rivers’ absence and the return of Tom Hawkins.


Prediction

It’s hard to make out how good the Tigers are right now. A better team would have beaten an undermanned Freo last Friday night, but there was nothing in it at the end. They were neck and neck with Collingwood for a half, but they were blown away by a Magpies team which sandwiched that win with blowout losses to the Hawks and Bombers. History says Geelong will get the chocolates and the formline does, too. If people are going to take this Richmond team seriously, these are the games they need to step up and win. They’re a bit tackle-shy the Tigers, but the way this Cats team is moving the ball through the centre corridor by hand, they won’t get many chances to lay a hand on them. Cats by 22 points

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