By Justin Flynn
Geelong’s recent record against Richmond is one of the more remarkable winning streaks in AFL history.
The stats make compelling reading. The Cats haven’t tasted defeat against the Tigers since round 9 in 2006, making it 12 consecutive wins.
The Cats have won 17 of their past 19 games against Richmond at Simonds Stadium and 24 of their past 30 against the Tigers at all venues.
No team has won as many matches against Richmond by 60 points or more than Geelong has. Not one player on the Richmond list has been involved in a win against Geelong.
It’s as lopsided as it gets.
But fast forward to round 21, 2017 and there’s never been a better time for the men from Punt Rd to buck the trend.
The Cats are decimated by injury and suspension with Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan feeling the wrath of the MRP during the week and Joel Selwood set to miss the rest of the home and away season with an ankle injury.
Patrick Dangerfield returns from a one-game suspension but Nakia Cockatoo, Mark Blicavs and George Horlin-Smith are all still on the injury list.
In front of what will be a full house at Simonds Stadium tomorrow afternoon, the game is, basically, a mini final.
A win to Richmond will virtually guarantee a top four spot while the Cats can lay similar claims.
Geelong rarely loses two games in a row at its Moorabool St fortress, but that’s exactly what confronts the side if it loses tomorrow.
The Cats were humbled by a resurgent Sydney last week and will go in as underdogs tomorrow.
The Tigers have been the surprise packet of the season. Sitting third on the ladder, Richmond still needs one win from its last three games to guarantee a finals berth. Lose their last three and there’s still a possibility Richmond could finish – wait for it – ninth.
Dangerfield is a massive inclusion but is offset by the loss of Selwood and Duncan. Richmond’s midfield is in fine form with Brownlow Medal favourite Dustin Martin, captain Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia and the unheralded Kane Lambert all playing good footy.
Richmond’s defence is the stingiest in the competition and with no Hawkins, the Cats may struggle to kick a winning score.
Josh Caddy kicked four goals last week for the Tigers and he returns to Simonds Stadium after being traded by Geelong last year.
History usually counts for little in football, but Geelong’s imposing record could play in the minds of the Tigers’ players.
Still, the circumstances surrounding the Cats’ depleted side all points to a Richmond win.
Beware the wounded the Cat. This side has been so good over the past decade that tipping against it is always a dangerous thing to do.
If the Tigers win this, it will be well and truly Tiger Time.
Richmond by 11 points.