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Geelong (Last year 18 wins) – 14.5 wins – Over/Under $1.88
Looking back: Geelong continued its dominance last season and slammed any pre-season critics who thought that the juggernaut was going to slide down the ladder. The Cats finished 18-4 for the year and hosted the Dockers in a home qualifying final. A preliminary final against eventual Premiers, Hawthorn, was one of the games of the year and saw the Cats lose by 5 points. They had their chance late to hit the lead and will be ruing that missed opportunity. Of the Cats 4 losses, the biggest was 10 points (10, 2, 5 and 6 point losses). It just shows how consistent and competitive they were all season.
What went wrong(right): Very little didn’t go to plan for the Cats. Captain Joel Selwood, had arguably his best season so far (which sounds crazy given what he has achieved thus far in his career) finishing just behind GAJ in the Brownlow Medal. Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie and Corey Enright all made the All-Australian team with Selwood. Christensen and Motlop were prolific hard running half forwards all season and Stevie J was as damaging as anyone when he took the field.
Player movement: Picking holes in the Cats has not been an easy feat in the last decade but now we may start to see some regression. The Cats lost stalwart Joel Corey, who has been one of the most underrated Cats during their recent dynasty. Chapman, Hunt, West and Podsiadly were all traded in the off-season. Losing Corey, Pods and Chapman will no doubt impact the depth at the club. They may not have been top 7 players in this side recently but will force younger players to step up into their roles.
What to expect: Geelong’s last 5 seasons look like this.
Win/Loss past 5 years
19-3 (2011) *Premiership
18-4 (2009) *Premiership
Geelong have rarely dipped in their excellence shown over the last half dozen years BUT now we see a ‘new team’ evolving.
Players left from Premiership teams
2011 – 14
2009 – 9
2007 – 7
Some of those players that are left have entered their 30s and how effective or productive they will be is yet to be seen. You would be very brave to count out some of these Geelong superstars this season but it is hard to see them play the role of protagonist for much longer in this team.
Bartel (30), Kelly (30), Enright (32), Johnson (30), Lonergan (29), Mackie (29) and Stokes (29).
It is really the only hole that you can punch into this predictably outstanding team. Will they start to regress as their stars get older and they face new rule changes that analysis suggests will require more endurance. Young fresh legs may be suited but the team has quashed any ideas of a drop off in recent seasons and will aim to do it again this year.
Draw: The Cats are very difficult to beat at home as Skilled Stadium has shown itself to be as good a home fortress as any over the years. 7 home games at the cattery should translate favourably and another 9 games in Melbourne will help the Cats pile on the wins. The biggest concern is that the Cats play both Grand Finalists from last season twice (Freo and Hawks) as well as games against teams like North Melbourne, Carlton and Essendon at Etihad Stadium and a trip up to Sydney to face the Swans.
Final Word: Should the older legs not dominate as they have in the past and the younger players are relied upon to play more prominent roles, the Cats may suffer a few more defeats than normal. They have the cattle with players like Motlop, Christensen, Duncan and co to take up the mantle. The ability to rest players as the Cats have done in the past may not be there should there be a few early loses and injury problems that have hurt McIntosh, Hawkins and Menzel hopefully don’t linger in 2014.
The statistics, makeup of the team and inevitable decline face Geelong once again this season. The problem with relying on that is that there is no calculation for the intangibles that Geelong have shown for so long. Since Scott took over from Thompson, there has been no sign of decline but nothing lasts forever.
Geelong may not be entrenched in the top 4 like seasons past but I still think they win around 13-14 games and play finals as per usual. A lean to the under at this stage is the only recommendation.
Geelong UNDER 14.5 wins – $1.88