These are two of the underachievers of the finals since the bye. Geelong hit the bye week three games clear on top only to be overrun by Brisbane before clawing back the minor premiership despite being five and five since the bye. Fremantle handed them a six goal loss in Perth. Collingwood had some awful games including a soulless loss to North Melbourne where they were bullied by the Roos hardness. Despite this mid season slump the Pies finished six and four after the bye and have some momentum having won their last four and being handed a top four spot by the very charitable Eagles.
If it seems like forever since you saw a Geelong v Collingwood game, you’re right. Round 1 this year, March 22. Geelong got over the line in an ugly game. It looked like neither side had done a pre-season. The lack of a form guide just adds more intrigue to what will be a very close game.
Round 1, 2019 – Geelong by seven points
Round 8, 2018 – Geelong by 21 points
Round 22, 2017 – Geelong by eleven points
Round 6, 2017 – Collingwood by 29 points
Rucks – Collingwood has not gone all season without providing some sort of cover for Grundy, be it Cox, Reid or Roughead (or Rupert Wills … srsly?). Roughead will be required to look after Hawkins. Does Moore go in despite his injury issues? Geelong has had issues with their rucks and have selected Rhys Stanley. With a short forward line, this could give Geelong the option to push Blicavs through the ruck and double team Grundy much like Eagles did with Lycett and Vardy in last year’s Grand Final
Mids – these sides are both well matched but the midfield is where the stars are. Does Grundy give first use to Pendlebury, Treloar, Adams and Sidebottom? Selwood, Dangerfileld, Kelly and Ablett is arguably the best midfield quarter in the game with finals experience to burn. Unless Grundy can consistently put the ball into the hip pocket of the Collingwood mids, Geelong will get it out. It’s an exciting and frightening prospect.
Forward Options – Geelong are cognisant of Collingwood’s multi faceted forward line and this can be seen from Geelong’s omission of Lachie Henderson. Collingwood have one traditional tall in Mihocek so Geelong going with three tall backs would be an imbalance. Geelong conversely have two traditional talls in Hawkins and Ratugolea and also have mid sized and smaller forwards in Rohan, Dalhaus and Miers. A lot hinges on Darcy Moore here. Is he really fit? What of Roughead, will he be used in the ruck? If Moore goes down, Collingwood loses the option of Roughead as a change up in the ruck, if that was what was intended. Matthew Scharenburg looks unlucky to miss out, or was he?
To Cattery or not to Cattery – there will be 95,000 at this game. It was never going to be played at Kardinia Park, or whatever it is called this year. If Geelong starts getting big home finals at GMHBA (I Googled it), look for Collingwood to rebuild Victoria Park as a “boutique stadium” and play some homes games there – although it will be more like a 20,000 seat cage fight than a boutique. No one wants that.
Darcy Moore – so much hinges on him. If he starts and pulls up sore, the downstream effects are significant for Collingwood. Expect Scarenburg to be called back in. Rupert Wills or John Noble seem the likely replacement although Collingwood will be looking for Noble to go with Miers and/or Narkle .
Dangerfield – is Dangerfield really a key? Is Steve Smith filling Khawaja’s shoes in the Fourth Test? Is Hot n’ Spicy better than traditional recipe? Of course he’s a key. The player that the umpires stopped giving Brownlow votes to because it’s not fair to everyone else. This mountain of skill, brains and finesse can deliver the Cats a “home” Preliminary Final by himself if he sees fit. You can’t tag him, you just have to stop him getting the ball or pressure the hell out of him when he gets it. Adams will start with him in the middle but if Danger presents danger, Collingwood might resort to another big body in DeGoey
At this early stage you’d have to say Australia. The Jack Leach no ball could become as pivotal to this series as the Nathan Lyon fumble and now Paine has been put down on 49 and this pitch will turn square on day five.
Oh, the football, sorry …. the more I look at this the more interesting it gets. Two very evenly matched sides with superstars in all parts of the ground. Collingwood’s ins here look to the be the key – three fresh guns in and Darcy Moore has played 1/4 in six weeks. Geelong have struggled since the bye. There were big wins against North and Carlton but Collingwood’s momentum looks better having won their last four, albeit not in completely convincing style. Collingwood by 16 points.