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The Big Questions - Geelong v Sydney

Geelong took a little while to get going, but once they took control of the contest they barely got out of third gear, and despite a late Sydney fightback, the Cats were able to record to a comfortable victory over the young Swans. Here are the big questions to come out of the Cats 22-point win.

Do the Cats have one foot in the Grand Final?

Now two games clear on top of the ladder, the Cats have defied all the odds in season 2019. Teams shouldn’t be able to produce the games Geelong has with all the youth in their side. But these kittens have given veterans Dangerfield, Selwood, Taylor and co a new lease on life. With the buffer they enjoy, Geelong can now manage their superstars with one eye on September, and if they are able to play their home finals on their actual home ground, Geelong look like the team to beat this year.

Why can’t Geelong play their finals at GMHBA Stadium?

Geelong need to lobby the AFL that all of their home finals need to be played at GMHBA Stadium, regardless of who their opponent is. It is unfair that the Cats have a proper home ground at their disposal, but are unable to use it because the AFL wants the bigger crowds of the MCG. Try telling West Coast they can’t play at Optus Stadium even though they’ve earnt it. There would be uproar and the Cats are always getting the short end of the stick just because they have a stadium that doesn’t hold 50,000 people.

Will Horse leave the Swans?

When Brad Scott moved on from the North Melbourne coaches box, undoubtedly it was Longmire that was the No.1 target to return and coach the club that made him a legend. While Horse has appeared to put the rumours to bed in the last week, it perhaps could be win for everyone if Longmire was to move to Arden St at the end of year. Coach since 2011, the Swans could benefit from a new voice as they rebuild, while North Melbourne would profit from an experienced head in the coach’s box.

Is Tom Hawkins in trouble?

Taking lessons from teammate Gary Ablett, Tom Hawkins has found himself in the eyes of the MRO after a careless hit on young Swan Jordan Dawson. Intentional and extremely careless, Hawkins knew straight away he was in trouble. The positive for the Tomahawk is that Dawson was able to return to his feet quickly and take his free kick, meaning Hawkins should only receive a fine. However, the AFL has been strong on eliminating hits to the head from the game, and could hit Hawkins with a week’s suspension.

 

Who was best and worst on ground for both teams?

Geelong:

Best – Mark Blicavs

Another superb defensive performance from Blicavs, as he was able to shut Buddy Franklin completely out of the game. Normally Buddy is able to work his way up the ground to lose his opponent, but not the former steeplechaser, who consistently spoiled the ball every time Franklin went for a mark. Gathered 16 disposals and six marks himself, and his disposal efficiency of 93% was the highest for players above 10 touches.

Stiff: Tim Kelly

Let’s all remember that this is just Tim Kelly’s second season of AFL football. Gathering 25 disposals and kicking a goal, Kelly possesses the composure and class of a 200 gamer, and has become Geelong’s best and most important midfielder. With Joel Selwood’s battered body now 31, Chris Scott and the Geelong list managers will need to find a way to keep Kelly at Kardinia Park long term. With both West Coast and Fremantle firmly in the top eight, if Kelly is firm in his stance to move back to WA, Geelong can demand at least two first round draft picks and possibly more depending on how the draft order shapes up.

Worst – Gary Rohan

It seems Rohan’s inconsistency has again resurfaced, as his last five matches have only yielded one of any substance. Essentially a straight swap for the equally ineffective Dan Menzel, Rohan had no impact on the game at all, only collecting four disposals, no marks, and most damningly, just two tackles and no scores. With Rohan now 28 years old, time is running out for him to improve his consistency and if he is unable to correct this fault, he will on the outside looking in as the Cats make their September charge.

Lucky: Gryan Miers

We need to remind ourselves that youth often brings inconsistent performances, so it is important not to judge the youngsters too harshly. A quiet game for 20-year-old Miers, it may be time to give the young man a rest for a week or two. He gathered 11 disposals and contributed Geelong’s first goal to halt Sydney’s momentum, but Miers output certainly wasn’t the worst performance we will see in his career. For now, there’s still much improvement to be made, and he has the right players around him to learn from.

Sydney:

Best – George Hewett

The future of Sydney’s midfield, Hewett found himself opposed to Tim Kelly for most of the evening, and while Kelly won the battle, Hewett more than held his own, collecting 29 disposals, including a team high 15 contested possessions. Still only 23 and with already 82 matches under his belt, Hewett has taken his game to another level in 2019. Still needs to improve his consistency, but with Sydney’s midfield aging and rapidly approaching retirement, Hewett has the ability to become the Swans leader in the centre square. 

Stiff: Jake Lloyd

It was a typical defensive display from Lloyd, with 34 disposals and 13 marks as the Swans primary defensive rebounder. Going at 88% disposal efficiency, Lloyd is averaging career best numbers in possessions, marks and rebound 50s. It continues to astound that teams do not utilise a tagger to curb Lloyd’s influence in defence and make him accountable for an opponent.

Worst – Dan Menzel

Playing in his first game in the red and white, Menzel would’ve been disappointed in his performance against his old side. While Gary Rohan has been in Geelong’s team all year, this was Menzel’s first game, and it will take him a few weeks to get used to the pace of AFL football. It is obvious that Menzel is too talented to play in the level below, but like others in this game, his inconsistency has been his undoing too often in his career. Capable of a 40 goal season if his body holds up, Menzel has the experience to help his young teammates build their careers and take the Swans up the ladder as he enters his twilight.

Lucky: Lance Franklin

With Buddy firmly entering the twilight of his career, rumours have started to rumble that it would be in Sydney’s best interest to move the Coleman Medallist on. With Blicavs completely nullifying Buddy’s influence, it might be time for rumour to become reality. All of Franklin’s vital numbers are his worst since his second season in 2006, and with the Swans entering a rebuilding phase, they will be able to save significant money and fast track the development of the young key forwards if they are able to facilitate a trade.

 

Stray thoughts:

-          Jordan Clark has been overlooked in Rising Star conversations. Firmly entrenched in Geelong’s best 18, Clark is on par with Sam Walsh and Connor Rozee for the Ron Evans Medal. It seems that Clark flies under the radar because he doesn’t stand out, and that’s due to the consistency of his performance and how well he fits in with a very well-balanced team.

-          While he was down on his output from previous weeks, Nick Blakey once again showed why he is the future of the Swans forward line. Blakey plays with an enthusiasm and dare beyond his years, and once he bulks up, will command Sydney’s forward half for the next decade. We could be looking at the Swans long term captain.

-          Another player in the future star category is Aliir Aliir. Taking intercept marks at will, Aliir is a player the Swans will build their defence around in the wake of Heath Grundy’s retirement. Finding himself in the NEAFL at various stages last year, Aliir has taken his game to the next level and has become Sydney’s best tall defender.

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