WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Friday May 25, 7.50pm
LAST TIME: Geelong 23.10 (148) d Western Bulldogs 13.9 (87), round 11, 2011 at Simonds Stadium
The Western Bulldogs will rate themselves a chance to inflict the Cats third straight defeat in round nine’s opening game at Etihad Stadium.
The Bulldogs come into Friday night’s clash off a six-day break after their come from behind, but comfortable win over the Gold Coast Suns in Darwin, their fourth win from their past five starts.
The Cats will still be reeling from a rugged 2011 grand final rematch against Collingwood that was contentiously decided in the last two minutes. If the Cats were to be defeated, on top of their round seven loss to the Crows, it would be their worst losing streak since 2006, the last time the team failed to make the finals.
The Cats are the ‘what might have been’ team for the Western Bulldogs, over the past five seasons the Bulldogs lost to Geelong in the 2008 Prelim and the 2009 Qualifying final. After both bowing out in the Preliminary finals of the 2010 season, Geelong would go on to win the 2011 flag while the Dogs slipped to tenth in a disappointing season. In 2012 the teams meet in round nine both at 4 -4 in 10th and 11th place with the game vital to both teams to just stay in touch with the eight.
The Western Bulldogs will be able to draw upon Brendan McCartney’s eleven years as Cats’ assistant coach and have some notable inclusions, with former Brownlow medallist, Adam Cooney, emerging ruckman Jordan Roughead, small forward Patrick Veszpremi – who notched 24 touches in the Dogs win against the Roos – and 20-year old debutant Daniel Pearce, an athletic midfielder with a basketball background. Dylan Addison misses through suspension for his off-the-ball bump on the Sun’s Harley Bennell, with Jarrad Grant, Liam Jones and Clay Smith all omitted.
Geelong welcome back veteran Matthew Scarlett and play their fifth debutant of the season in Jonathan Simpkin to replace the injured James Kelly, with Billie Smedts omitted. Simpkin, the 24-year old former Geelong Falcon, won the 2011 Best & Fairest for the Cats VFL side and is the tenth new player to pull on the ‘hoops under coach Chris Scott. The Cats have beaten the Dogs on eight of their past ten meetings.
The Dogs are currently leading the league for contested disposals and total disposals, but haven’t been readily turning the possession into points averaging only 79 points a game compared to the Cats 92. A tight, hard-fought contest is on the cards with the two teams sitting second and third for the number of tackles made.
Brian Lake v Tom Hawkins
Brian Lake is returning to close to his best after ongoing injuries, Hawkins had a forgettable night against the Pies and still sits in second in the Coleman race.
Matthew Boyd v Joel Selwood
The two captains and ball magnets (261 and 196 disposals respectively) meet in the middle in a clash which will go a long way to giving their respective team’s first use.
Luke Dahlhaus v Josh Hunt
Dahlhaus has been very handy in close for the Dogs in contested possessions and clearances, while Hunt will hoping to deflect the glare of the footy world and media with a hard-at-it effort, don’t expect any spoils.
Both team’s wins in 2012 have come largely against teams below them on the ladder, of which there aren’t many. The match shapes as an unexpectedly vital clash for the two teams seasons, the Cats have a big scalp in Hawthorn, and all but caused a stirring victory against the Pies as their big occasion form, while the Bulldogs are yet to trouble any team above them in any serious way, and although they will get the inside running from coach McCartney, Geelong should to be too strong.
Geelong by 14.
B: Robert Murphy, Brian Lake, Ryan Hargrave
HB: Daniel Cross, Mark Austin, Patrick Veszpremi
C: Zephaniah Skinner, Matthew Boyd, Justin Sherman
HF: Shaun Higgins, Jordan Roughead, Daniel Giansiracusa
F: Luke Dahlhaus, Ayce Cordy, Mitchell Wallis
Foll: William Minson, Ryan Griffen, Liam Picken
IC: Adam Cooney, Thomas Liberatore, Daniel Pearce, Tory Dickson
EMG: Liam Jones, Christian Howard, Clay Smith
In: Adam Cooney, Jordan Roughead, Patrick Veszpremi, Daniel Pearce
Out: Dylan Addison (Suspension), Jarrad Grant, Liam Jones, Clay Smith
New: Daniel Pearce (Oakleigh Chargers)
B: Matthew Scarlett, Tom Lonergan, Josh Hunt
HB: Corey Enright, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie
C: Steve Johnson, Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel
HF: Paul Chapman, James Podsiadly, Steven Motlop
F: Mitch Duncan, Tom Hawkins, Mathew Stokes
Foll: Trent West, Joel Corey, Taylor Hunt
IC: Jonathan Simpkin, Jesse Stringer, Cameron Guthrie, Orren Stephenson
EMG: Shannon Byrnes, Billie Smedts, George Horlin-Smith
In: Matthew Scarlett, Jonathan Simpkin
Out: James Kelly (Calf), Billie Smedts
New: Jonathan Simpkin (Geelong VFL)