WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Friday July 20, 7.50pm
LAST TIME: Essendon 18.7 (115) d Geelong 16.15 (111), round 15, 2011 at Etihad Stadium

The last time these two teams met was over a year ago, and for the Cats in particular, the situation could not be more different.

The tight outcome in a thrilling encounter saw Geelong’s unbeaten run of 14 games broken in one of the upsets of the season.

12 months later, the Bombers are a game off top of the ladder and the Cats are only a game clear of tenth spot and have rarely looked like capturing the form that saw them easily fend off all challengers during their peak years.

Tonight their finals chances aren’t on the line, but there is a belief that without a top four spot and the double chance secured, your ability to win a flag is severely hampered. If the Cats lose tonight their top four dreams are dashed, and for a club that hasn’t proven itself on the big stage, it needs to respond in a big way.

Key Matchups

Jobe Watson vs Joel Selwood – The captains will find themselves facing each other at the stoppages and they will both be attempting to negate the clearance work of the other. The fortunes of the respective sides relies heavily upon the performance of these two, so their battle tonight will go a long way to deciding the outcome.

Angus Monfries vs Corey Enright –  Although Stewart Crameri also returns for the ‘Dons, Monfries will have to shoulder a lot of the attacking responsibilities for an Essendon side which has lost a lot of firepower to injury. Scott Gumbleton impressed last week, but with Enright a possible matchup, Monfries will also have to be switched on defensively as Enright’s ball use is so vital in the Cat’s game plan.

Final Say

The past few seasons have trained everyone to think that the Cats at their best can beat anybody, and while that reputation is a deserved one, we simply haven’t seen this side at their best at all in 2012.

Essendon have been one of the genuine highlights of the year to date, and should continue to improve their credentials with a win tonight.

Bombers by 28

Geelong Cats

B: Joel Corey, Tom Lonergan, Matthew Scarlett
HB: Harry Taylor, Josh Hunt, Corey Enright
C: Andrew Mackie, James Kelly, Taylor Hunt
HF: Billie Smedts, Tom Hawkins, Steven Motlop
F: Paul Chapman, Josh Walker, Mitch Duncan
Foll: Trent West, Joel Selwood, Steve Johnson
I/C: Mathew Stokes, Jackson Sheringham, Cameron Guthrie, Jordan Murdoch
Emg: Mitch Brown, George Horlin-Smith, Jordan Schroder

In: Jordan Murdoch

Out: Allen Christensen (Shoulder)


B: Jake Melksham, Dustin Fletcher, Cale Hooker
HB: Kyle Hardingham, Jake Carlisle, Mark Baguley
C: Courtenay Dempsey, Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell
HF: Alwyn Davey, Stewart Crameri, Leroy Jetta
F: Scott Gumbleton, Tom Bellchambers, Angus Monfries
Foll: David Hille, Brent Stanton, Ricky Dyson
I/C: Nathan Lovett-Murray, David Myers, Ben Howlett, Cory Dell’Olio
Emg: Sam Lonergan, Tayte Pears, Alex Browne

In: Angus Monfries, Stewart Crameri

Out: Kyle Reimers (Hamstring), Michael Hibberd (Quad)