By Justin Flynn
Geelong can all but sew up a top four spot if it defeats Sydney tonight at Simonds Stadium.
The Cats are six points clear of fifth-placed Port Adelaide and 10 points adrift of a host of other sides all vying for a finals spot. With Adelaide’s draw to Collingwood last weekend, top spot is also back on the agenda with just a game separating the two teams at the top of the table.
Geelong will have to defeat Sydney tonight without Patrick Dangerfield, who was suspended for one match for a tackle on Carlton big man Matthew Kreuzer.
Coach Chris Scott said he would not expect his side to change the way it tackled, even after the decision by the match review panel to suspend Dangerfield.
“If the alternative is to be a very poor tackling team and be poor in the contest, then I think we are just going to have to risk that players are going to inadvertently cross the boundaries as the rulemakers dictate they are at the moment,” Scott said.
Dangerfield is now ineligible to win a second Brownlow Medal this year due to the suspension, and Scott said there was an element of bad luck in the decision.
“Luck, in my experience, almost always plays a factor in these things. Especially when things aren’t malicious or intentional, then sometimes you can just be on the wrong side of those things,” Scott said.
Tonight’s game is the first of a two-week Simonds Stadium blockbuster patch. After the Swans, the Cats take on Richmond in what is tipped to be a full house next Saturday afternoon.
Sydney has won 10 of its past 12 games, which included a narrow loss to Hawthorn last weekend.
Tonight’s game is the first time these sides have met this season. The last encounter was during the 2016 preliminary final, which Sydney won by 37 points.
During that final, the Sydney midfield ran rampant with Isaac Heeney, Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack and Josh Kennedy playing starring roles. Kennedy is under an injury cloud for this game after playing his 200th game against the Hawks.
Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan, Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola will need to lift to help fill the void left by Dangerfield.
Tom Hawkins returned to form in a huge way last week with six goals against Carlton. Sydney’s defence has been solid this season with Dane Rampe and Heath Grundy dominating in the air.
It’s a brave tipster who goes against Geelong at home. Even without Dangerfield for a week, the Cats should do enough to scrape home in what could be one of the games of the season.
Geelong by seven points.