Middling Cats, Pies in ‘match of round’

IMPROVED CAT: Tom Stewart has slotted into the Cats' defence with Jack Henry in the absence of Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson. (Rebecca Hosking) 167380

By Justin Flynn

At first glance, Geelong’s match against Collingwood seems like just another run-of-the-mill game between two sides languishing around the middle of the ladder.

But delve a little further and it could well be the game of the round, even ahead of the Adelaide showdown, a tantalising clash between Hawthorn and Sydney and a huge encounter between GWS and West Coast.

Geelong regained some form last week with a belting of GWS while the Pies were pushed to the brink by a winless Brisbane, but has been in good nick this season.

If you can have a season defining game in May, then this Mother’s Day afternoon game shapes as a beauty.

The Cats will be missing key forward Tom Hawkins, who pleaded guilty to making contact with an umpire.

The big Cat received a one-match ban at the tribunal on Tuesday night.

“I absolutely respect the umpires and their importance to the game at all levels,“ Hawkins said after tribunal’s verdict.

“The tribunal came up with a decision today that was in the best interests of the game and I totally respect that.“

Geelong had some good news this week, though, with Jack Henry being the AFL’s round 7 Rising Star nominee.

Henry, 19, has slotted into the Cats’ defence seamlessly this season with fellow key defenders Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson out injured.

In fact Henry and Tom Stewart have proven to be more than worthy in Taylor’s and Henderson’s spots.

Henry delivered the best performance of his six-game career – an 18-disposal, 11-mark effort – in the Cats’ win over the Giants.

“It is pretty crazy just going into the club and seeing some of the guys I’ve grown up watching, and now I’m working with them,“ Henry said.

“I’m lucky how everything’s panned out; being picked up by Geelong and living down the road. It’s a dream come true.

“But I’ve been here for the best part of a year-and-a-half now, so it’s worn off a little now – I’m not as star struck, anyway.“

Collingwood has been one of the big improvers of the season and is playing some good footy despite sitting ninth on the ladder.

Adam Treloar and Steele Sidebottom are racking possessions in the midfield while Jordan De Goey booted five goals last week.

The Pies, along with Geelong, are one of six teams on four wins and three losses. The loser of this clash will temporarily slip back on the pegging order of teams looking for that important top four spot.

Sunday’s game starts 3.20pm at the MCG.

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