AFL 2019: Semi Final Preview – Geelong vs West Coast

Joel Bowes tells us what we need to know ahead of the knock out semi final between Geelong and West Coast.

Overview

This looms as one of the matches of the year as the Cats try desperately to avoid the dreaded straight sets exist, whilst the Eagles look to continue their charge towards back to back Premierships. With the season on the line and a game against the Tigers waiting both teams will need to be on their game to win and survive another week. There’s plenty of stars on both sides so Friday night at the MCG will be a thriller.

Recent Meetings

Round 6 2019: Geelong 15.14 (104) def West Coast 7.4 (46) at GMHBA Stadium

Round 3 2018: West Coast 14.11 (95) def Geelong 11.14 (80) at Optus Stadium

Round 13 2017: West Coast 11.17 (83) def Geelong 10.10 (70) at Domain Stadium

Round 7 2016: Geelong 18.15 (123) def West Coast 12.7 (79) at GMHBA Stadium

Round 9 2015: West Coast 16.24 (120) def Geelong 10.4 (64) at Domain Stadium



Key Factors

Return to the MCG for Geelong

After all the controversy surrounding the Cat’s ‘home’ final last week against Collingwood they’ll be eager to bounce back and take down an opponent from outside Victoria. Geelong shot themselves in the foot last week after a terrible first half and although they made better use of their second half efforts, they weren’t enough to drag them back over the line. Now they return to the ground they were brushed aside last week, to face the number one interstate team for not fearing the MCG.

Midfield Battle for the Ages

With such elite sides clashing this will be a ripper in the middle. Gaff, Yeo, and Shuey versus Dangerfield, Selwood and Kelly will be awesome to watch. Last week the Cat’s midfielders were run all over, whereas the Eagle’s men had a day out. It will be absolutely crucial that Geelong’s engine room stands up against a very strong test from the west.

Stopping the Twin Towers

Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will both look to get off the hook early and make names for themselves early on Friday night. The Cat’s defenders, namely players like Harry Taylor and Tom Stewart will have their hands full with two elite kicking big men in the same forward line. If Geelong can shut down the Eagle’s favourite two options up front it greatly reduces their scoring power, and this might juts be enough to win them the game.

Chipping In Can Win It

The Cats have been great for most of season 2019, partly due to excellent game play, partly due to stand out performances, and partly due to an excellent level of contribution from relative unknowns and first year players. Jack Henry, Tom Atkins, Mark O’Connor and Quinton Narkle have all played their role when they’ve been called up this season, and after all featuring last week would be lucky to miss this week. If Geelong can keep up its no passengers way of playing it will serve them well against a side filled with dynamos.

Key Players

Tim Kelly

Kelly, now certainly a star of the game, was once just a mature aged recruit Geelong had put some faith in. Now he’s entrenched in a very classy side and looks good with and without ball in hand. If Kelly plays well, normally so does the team, with added spice this week however is that Kelly is likely to nominate West Coast as his club of choice for 2020. Although this won’t affect the match, it will be interesting to see how Kelly fares, mixing with a side that may just become his next year.

Nic Naitanui

Last week, West Coast big man Nic Naitanui reminded the world why he is so highly regarded. He burst back into the side with massive impact, and no one felt that impact more than the hair-pulling culprit himself, Zach Merrett. Naitanui was bull-like through the middle, racking up touches and putting opponents in their place. This week, the Cats look set to be without a traditional ruckman, and Naitanui looks set to capitalise. As before mentioned, the midfield will be a critical area of battle this week, and so if the Eagle’s ruckman wins a lot of taps, the men from Perth will win a lot of clearances.

Prediction

There is plenty to like about the look of this match. Geelong were the best side this year and the Eagles can beat anybody at their best. It’s pointy end of the season stuff now, and this one should be very, very close.

West Coast Eagles by 5 Points.


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