2019 in a Nutshell
The 2019 season for Geelong could be divided into two groupings, firstly the stretch of games to the bye, which was outstanding. Secondly, the games that followed the byes including the finals which was well below what both them and their supporters would have deemed to be a success.
The opening 12 rounds of the season saw 11 victories with the Cats pitted against a lot of the sides expected to play a role in the 2019 finals series. Games against Collingwood, West Coast, Essendon, Western Bulldogs and Richmond all resulted in victories against sides who played finals, their only loss was a four point loss to eventual Grand Finalists GWS.
Post bye however was an all to familiar pattern for the Cats, they played ten games after their bye and only won five of those games in a draw that was a lot easier than their first 12 games. They still managed to secure top spot and clearly had the best defence in terms of points conceded and were only shaded marginally for the best offence by Brisbane. After two wins against Collingwood and West Coast their season was ended by eventual premier Richmond in the Prelim Final.
2020 Playing List
|1 Rhys Stanley||17 Esava Ratugolea||33 Jake Tarca|
|2 Zach Tuohy||18 Charlie Constable||34 James Parsons|
|3 Brandan Parfitt||19 Quinton Narkle||35 Patrick Dangerfield (vc)|
|4 Gary Ablett||20 Oscar Brownless||36 Blake Schlensog|
|5 Nakia Cockatoo||21 Jacob Kennerley||37 Sam Simpson|
|6 Jordan Clark||22 Mitch Duncan||38 Jack Henry|
|7 Harry Taylor||23 Gary Rohan||39 Zach Guthrie|
|8 Jake Kolodjashnij||24 Jed Bews||40 Luke Dahlhaus|
|9 Jack Steven||25 Lachie Henderson||41 Cameron Taheny|
|10 Ben Jarvis||26 Tom Hawkins||42 Mark O’Connor|
|11 Josh Jenkins||27 Sam Menegola||43 Stefan Okunbor|
|12 Cooper Stephens||28 Darcy Fort||44 Tom Stewart|
|13 Lachie Fogarty||29 Cameron Guthrie||45 Bradley Close|
|14 Joel Selwood (c)||30 Tom Atkins||46 Mark Blicavs (vc)|
|15 Nathan Kreuger||31 Francis Evans|
|16 Sam de Koning||32 Gryan Miers|
|INS:||Josh Jenkins (Adelaide), Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons), Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays), Francis Evans (Calder Cannons), Cameron Taheny (Norwood), Jack Steven (St Kilda).|
|OUTS:||Ryan Abbott, Wylie Buzza, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly, Scott Selwood, Zac Smith.|
The Cats play nine games at GMHBA Stadium, which is almost a fortress now, as well as five at The G and two at Marvel giving them 16 games in Victoria. Double up games against West Coast, Brisbane, GWS, StKilda and Hawthorn will be testing and should hold them in good stead come finals time. Overall the draw for season 2020 is a lot more friendly than last season.
Five Fearless Predictions
The Bye, or bye bye.
As mentioned above, Geelong is a side that has had issue’s with the post bye part of the season dating back to 2012. Despite Chris Scott regularly shrugging off this record, the stats speak for themselves in terms of the Cats either coming back after the bye or after having the week off.
It now sits at 2-13 in the last eight years, and is surely an area for concern for Scott and his players down at the Cattery. In 2017, they turned 9-2, in 2018 they had a 8-4 record and 2019 they were 11-1. All these should have been good launching pads to make an assault on the flag, but all resulted in not making a grand final. If the key to this mystery can be unlocked the Cats will have a lot better chance of claiming it’s first flag since 2011.
Farwell to the Little Master.
I feel guilty having this discussion but on the evidence seen so far in the early stages of the 2020, little Gaz looks like he might not see the season out. Many were quick to start stamping his papers late last year but a solid last month to the year kept the wolves at bay for at least another preseason anyway.
Those wolves are starting to circle again on the eve of the season propper, and I’m not sure if the little master can see them off again. There are so many questions starting to arise, can he be damaging enough to hold his spot? Will he play VFL? How much credit in the bank does he have to buy him time to be back into form? One thinks if an “old man” injury surfaces like a calf or hamstring, the great man may not make it back and make an announcement on his career before the season is done.
To Trade or to Draft, that is the question.
How many times can the Cats use experienced players from other clubs to top up and reload at the flag and avoid an inevitable slide down the ladder that most other clubs in the competition have sucombed to? The general consensus is that Geelong picking up players from other clubs has been overall a successful approach as the side has maintained success over this period.
A real thorough examination of the players it has brought in provides interesting reading and could well challenge whether it has been actually been worth it. Since 2014 the cats have traded for and brought to the club Mitch Clark, Rhys Stanley, Sam Blease, Patrick Dangerfield, Lachie Henderson, Zac Smith, Scott Selwood, Aaron Black, Zach Tuohy, Gary Ablett, Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus as well as adding Stewart Crameri as a rookie. One could argue of all those players listed only Dangerfield has had consistent levels of performance that is of benifit to the team.
The Cats have gone to the well again this year adding Stevens and Jenkins as two players that have had careers elsewhere. The clubs success this year could dictate the direction the club takes in the next few years in terms of list strategy.
Time to step up.
The Geelong forward line in the past few years in terms of a key power forward focus has been left to one man, Tom Hawkins. As he approaches the twilight of his career it is time for one of the younger members of the team to step up.
This year could be the perfect opportunity for Geelong giant Esava Ratugolea to showcase his development and start to stamp himself as an emerging talent in the competition. After a promising start in 2018 before breaking his leg, he managed to play 20 games in 2019 and showed glimpses of what he is capable of.
With Geelong having plenty of rucks on their list but none playing consistently enough to hold down the key ruck post for any period of time, the door is ajar for Ratugolea to play that 75 forward 25 ruck role which can actively keep him in the game longer and help speed up his development.
To Scott or not to Scott?
Ask any Geelong fan is Chris Scott the right man for the job, and you get mixed answers. It seems despite coaching a flag in his first year he has never fully had the trust of the Geelong faithful. Some would ask if that flag was rightfully his or the result of Bomber Thompsons reign down at Sleepy Hollow.
As an outsider looking in, I think most footy fans would like to have Selwood, Dangerfield, Ablett, Stewart, Blicavs, Taylor, and Duncan running out for your club each week. He has a proven record of getting them up and going early and being in positions to challenge for a flag.
Unfortunately this hasn’t turned any of those outstanding starts into getting the cup returned down the freeway. His high level of success and playing finals has kept any pressure from getting directed his way, but is success measured in playing finals or winning flags? That answer may be getting closer than we think to being answered.
Where will they finish?
It would take a very brave man to tip against Geelong being there come September and I am certainly not of that thought process, not this year anyway. I think they are a classic 5-8 finish this year. Will be able to beat sides around the mark and possibly higher but not enough times to finish in the Top Four. They have given their supporters a lot more smiles then frowns over the last couple of years and this year should pan out exactly the same. Geelong to finish between fifth and eighth.